Why Don’t Firewalls Work?

Why Don't Firewalls Work?

Many businesses enable firewalls in order to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. But somebody claims firewalls do not work at stopping cyber-attacks. Let us determine if it is true.

Are Firewalls Trustworthy?

Companies worry about their security. Therefore they are ready to spend great sums of money on firewall technologies. This makes them the most regular expense in companies’ budgets on cybersecurity.

Taking into consideration that nowadays, more headlines often appear about data breaches in both small and big businesses, we can conclude that even having encryption firewalls will not stop hackers. Many people begin to ask, “how do firewalls work if they are useless against today’s hackers?”

A study was conducted recently among enterprise cybersecurity leaders. Less than half of the respondents consider firewalls effective at preventing ransomware. Less than half of the respondents consider firewalls effective at protecting clouds. And less than half of the respondents trust firewalls for protecting their data centers.

From the Perspective of Hackers

Cyber attackers impact and are dangerous not only for small and big businesses. They would steal the sensitive data of ordinary users with great pleasure. Who knows, maybe a paper writing service that promises to write your paper is a hacker and wants to steal your payment data. That’s why everyone should be on their guard.

If we put ourselves into the shoes of hackers, who have faced firewalls over the last period of time, we would better understand why firewalls do not work. Over the last three decades, cyber attackers transformed various practices and methods into reliable strategies that can defeat these means of protection.

► Firewalls Are Easily Blinded

The first reason firewalls are failing is that they are easily blinded. Cyber attackers came up with encrypting attacks in a way firewalls can not identify them. Deep verification becomes impossible. This leads to such attacks passing through firewalls unhindered. All experienced hackers know this, and nowadays, approximately 70 percent of all attacks utilize encryption.

Detection is possible with the help of many firewalls proposing limited SSL proxy support. But administrators too often discover that it loads the processor too much. This leads to network bottlenecks that make applications unresponsive. It is possible to offload the responsibility to other appliances such as email security MTAs and web proxies. This will help to detect and stop some of the attacks. Still, many of them can still get through unhindered. Moreover, firewall problems with encrypted traffic become worse when you realize that over 80 percent of web traffic is encrypted and 48 percent of the company applications work through encryption. Firewalls find it complicated to protect the company from malicious traffic if it clearly does not differ from the legitimate one.

The worst situation when firewalls become easily traversed is when hackers turn on different port forwarding and fragmented packet attacks. At the application level, there were many successful attacks spoofing HTTP and DNS protocols. Today this becomes part of the standard instrumentation of the modern cyber attacker.

► Firewalls Are Often Misconfigured

Firewalls are an administrative problem, and too often, we can discover that the burden of managing them leads to the following things. Firstly, we can discover that administrators usually forget to update and correct their endpoints. The same situation is with firewalls. Enterprises can cause network risks by simply forgetting to update firewalls. This is where hackers can easily use known vulnerabilities in firewalls to pass through them. Secondly, with time firewalls usually suffer from sprawling rule-sets and wrong configuration. This also leads to exploitation.

 Firewalls Are Easily Avoided

Hackers have the possibility to use vulnerabilities of firewalls such as blinding, traversing, and exploiting. To make matters worse, cyber attackers have learned they can just avoid firewalls. The most widespread examples of this involve using the web and messaging protocols in order to attack and utilize users directly to get access. Then attackers can utilize user side shells, libraries, command prompts, and overly permissive user permissions in order to sharpen the attack. We can discover that hackers are targeting publicly available enterprise applications. They look for weaknesses directly. These weaknesses include lack of multi-factor authentication, vulnerable certificate infrastructure, weak passwords, and network services.

► Firewalls Are on Wrong Places

Unfortunately, it is true that hackers have come up with many ways to get around firewalls. They can carry a firewall attack easily and fast. The most important conclusion that we can make from how hackers work is that as soon as hackers are within an enterprise, firewalls are no longer an obstacle for them.

Firewalls Are on Wrong Places

Hackers have the ability to move within the environment and perform reconnaissance on potential targets. By this, they elevate privileges within an environment. In modern companies, this movement too often turns out to be a simple process passing through corporate clouds, application workflows, and data centers. Firewalls simply do nothing for the protection of the inside of the enterprise like perimeter devices.

The whole industry becomes interested in a security approach that is called “Zero Trust”. This is a response to the glitches of legacy cybersecurity solutions like firewalls. But how is it possible to implement the “Zero Trust” concept of micro-perimeters? The best solution is to place firewalls between workflows, even if these devices were never intended for this.

Time to Change a Strategy

In order to protect enterprises better, we should accept that firewalls are now almost redundant for some very simple perimeter functions. We should re-evaluate the approach to security and dramatically reduce the costs on firewalls in favor of allocating these costs to more efficient approaches.

For instance, we can consider Software-Based Segmentation. It uses workflow visibility and host-based firewalling. This ensures complete security, and it will be more difficult for hackers to traverse and exploit workarounds. Moreover, it will be possible to create Zero-Trust micro-perimeters that follow the whole workflow. You may be surprised, but it is easier, faster, and considerably less expensive than firewalls.

Software-Based Segmentation begins with real-time and historical visibility into the organization’s workflows. This guarantees that you have the possibility to precisely display all workflows and create accurate policies. It is also based on agents and does not depend on a platform/operating system. This indicates it can be used across the entire enterprise environment from clouds to premises. This greatly simplifies management as well as deployment. Moreover, it guarantees flexibility and portability if the company wants to change, move or add additional platforms.

Its policies are detailed and enable companies to present the least attack surface, limit the process, user identity, and fully qualified domain name. Running workload and without tracking it, you aren’t blinded by encryption and can simply protect yourself from undefined lateral movement.


Hackers have perfected the possibilities of getting around firewalls. It has become easier to conduct a firewall attack. This is why it is time for enterprises to shift defenses in order to cover the entire enterprise all-inclusive with the help of utilizing Software-Based Segmentation. It is easier, faster, less expensive, and more effective.

There are widespread and emerging cyber threats; therefore, you can not neglect the cybersecurity of your business. In order to reduce network risks and assist in securing your network and the personal information that is maintained on your computer against cybercrime, it is recommended to utilize available defenses.

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