In a world of increasing cybersecurity attacks, all businesses small or big need to balance the network performance with the network security concerns. There is a need for high-security architecture to maintain high performance and effectiveness on applications. Next-generation firewall (NGFW) is the key solution to maintaining network security without compromising the network performance.
The traditional firewall creates a security risk to today’s growing technology since it can only track traffic in layer 2 -4. The next generation firewall classifies all traffic and creates comprehensive security policies to safeguard web applications, content and track identity of end users. This helps in reducing cyber-attacks within the organization.

Technologies behind NGFW
NGFW combines traditional firewall functionalities with network device filtering functionality to increase network productivity. It employs deep packet inspection (DPI) technics by integrating application firewall, intrusion prevention system (IPS) and network security services to control and monitor data traffic. The NGFW performs traffic inspection and blocks any attacks on the system.
Additional features and functionality of packet filtering, network address translation (NAT), and URL blocking for virtual private networks (VPN) have increased deep packet inspections and detection of malware reducing the growing number of sophisticated attacks as well as blocking traffic that exploits the vulnerability. The IT department should set up controls for monitoring traffic entering and exiting the network.
Evolution of next-generation firewalls

NGFW has reduced modern web-based malware attacks through the introduction of improved intrusion prevention mechanisms and detection of encrypted applications. Next-generation firewall filter packets and block any vulnerabilities, unwanted applications, and malware or exploit attacks on the fly. Administrators can also create rules to deny access to various applications on the web by either blocking the associated ports or protocols. Today, web applications and firmware run over TCP port 80 and blocking this port will affect all HTTP protocols.
Almost 80% of new malware intrusions affect web applications as opposed to creating weaknesses on the network. Next-generation firewalls operate in layer 2 to 7 of the OSI model making various protocols and IP addresses more reliable. Introduction of Identity-based security approach puts the organization at the forefront security appliance to incorporate security on various IP addresses.

How next generation works
1. The firewall identifies and controls applications: Using various user based applications, an IT administrator need to gain control over the network applications and limit traffic to approved applications.
2. Prevent threats: Another major application of NGFW is to monitor for any type threat on the installed application. Creates security policies based on all traffic to connected devices, applications, end users, and content.
3. Simplify network infrastructure: NGFW is used as a tool to increase network visibility and control as well as a security infrastructure to monitor network traffic and save on the cost of cyber-attacks. NGFW protects users and applications through anti-virus, spam filtering and carrying out deep packet inspection.

Benefits of implementing next-generation firewall
1. Network visibility and control: Next generation firewall creates traffic visibility for users, applications, and devices. Its additional capabilities in device inspection increase traffic flow. It supports the highest performance of network through control mechanism intended for intrusion prevention.
2. Automated security: using innovation security infrastructure features helps deal with sophisticated cyber-attacks. Real-time network monitoring indicates a possible attack or threats on the network.
3. Protects users and data threats: NGFW is integrated with other security platforms to block cyber-attacks to users and data. The chosen security control measure should deliver the most robust performance as well as carry out network analytics and reporting.
4. Increase network productivity: Network administrators set up controls to manage the business and non-business applications, monitor network security, and performance, scan files and ensure infected files do not slip unnoticed under heavy firewall load. Application control technologies are applied to SSL encrypted traffic to ensure no new malware vector is brought to the network.
5. Customized reports: NGFW provides customized reports to enable IT security personnel monitor web activity of the users, network outages and any security breaches in real-time.

A good NGFW should provide:
1. Network-address translation (NAT), stateful protocol inspection (SPI) and virtual private networking (VPN) are used as the standard first-generation firewall protocols.
2. Use SSL decryption mechanisms to identify any malicious encrypted applications.
3. Increased visibility, application awareness, and control.
4. Using directory-based policies to incorporate information outside the firewall.
5. Use integrated signature-based IPS engine.
6. Configure the firewall to generate reports on future security threats.
7. Non-disruptive in-line bump-in-the-wire configuration.
Investing in the next-generation firewall will not only utilize your network performance but also ensure there is maximum network security. The more traffic your firewall can see, the better it can protect your users, devices, and content. Some encrypted traffic can conceal threats from firewalls.

References
https://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/next-generation-firewalls-security-without-compromising-performance/
https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/products/secure-the-network/next-generation-firewall
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next-Generation_Firewall
http://uk.security.westcon.com/content/vendors/paloaltonetworks/the-next-generation-firewall1/what-is-the-next-generation-firewall
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/next-generation-firewall-NGFW