Firewall is a term widely used in the information security market, and certainly the most remembered asset within a security architecture. Moreover, no wonder the concept did not have major changes over time; however, the scope underwent major modifications. Even with so many new features in the perimeter security market, firewalls are always present in the corporate world.
Throughout this post, we will bring you a bit of the history of firewall, understanding everything from the need to the evolution through time, bringing to the present day in highly modern and complex solutions ready for security challenges.
If you want to deepen your knowledge about firewalls, continue reading the article Firewall: Concept and Terminology.
What is firewall?
Firewall is nothing more than a concept, applied in a software or set of software and hardware, which aims to offer security features and interconnection of networks, regulating all traffic passing through it, according to the policies previously established.
Complementarily, the firewall is an asset in face of a strategically positioned infrastructure where traffic is tunneled, and because of this, it can allow or block the continuity of the communication if it does not present any non-compliance or threat to the network.
Firewalls are heavily used as a defense strategy in companies of the most varied and segmented types, and are generally placed in a topology between public networks (internet) and private networks (internal network segments).
Getting to know a little of history is to understand how challenges have been posed over time, and how market and businesses have adapted and transformed into an excellent business model for an increasingly interconnected world.
Timeline: Firewall in the 80’s
Firewall is not a new concept; it has become especially popular with the spread of the TCP/IP protocol stack due to its own nature. Since the IP protocol has the ability to intercommunicate, leaving networks with different purposes or domains (companies, universities etc.) without any control, it presents a potential risk of unauthorized access, data compromise, among other possibilities.
So defending the perimeter is nothing more than creating a barrier that separates the public part of the interconnection offered by the internet, and operated by large telecommunications companies and local providers as well, in the private network segments.
In computer networks, information travels through packets from one point to another. Each packet is a unit that carries a portion of identification (header) and data (content), being routed independently through the internet.
The first firewall proposal, or packet filter, came in 1989 by Jeff Mogul of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), marking, therefore, the first generation.
Timeline: Firewall in the 90’s
AT & T Bell Labs, through Steve Bellovin and Bill Cheswick, developed in 1991 the first concept of what would be consolidated later as stateful packet filtering, or simply stateful firewall. This stage was marked as second generation of firewalls.
In a short time, the third generation of firewalls appeared, when the commercialization of the DEC SEAL was started, counting on modern resources of application proxies. The combination of packet filtering and proxy in a single solution has made the hybrid firewall name begin to be more widely used in the market and academia.
In 1994, Checkpoint launched Firewall-1 that was extremely important for the development and maturation of the security market, pioneering the GUI (Graphic User Interface) concept, as well as other technologies directly related to security.
In the second half of the 1990s, several parallel projects appeared, such as Squid (1996) and Snort (1998) that had as their main purpose not commercialization but the development and maturation of solutions and concepts over time. These projects have, to this day, great use by commercial and free security solutions.
At the same time, other companies emerged, and other security features were added to the solutions, making them increasingly hybrid. Features such as VPN, URL filters, QoS, integration or incorporation of antivirus, WAF and other solutions have allowed for greater robustness in the construction of secure environments for companies.
Timeline: Firewall between 2000 and 2015
With the incorporation of complementary security solutions for firewalls, in 2004 the term UTM (Unified Threat Management) appeared for the first time through IDC. The term is nothing more than a better name for the evolution of firewalls over the years.
Through the popularization of the internet, many services and applications began to centralize their operation on the web. This move greatly increased the need to protect specific systems based on the HTTP protocol. In 2006, Web Application Firewalls (WAF) appeared as a standalone solution, but also incorporated as a resource for UTM.
Although the UTMs were prominent, by bringing together various functionalities and security features in a single solution, it had the negative side associated with performance, in view of the amount of resources. In 2008, Palo Alto Networks brings to the market the concept of next generation firewalls (NGFW), solving the performance problem presented by UTMs, and adding an important feature: visibility and application-based controls.
Then, in 2009, Gartner goes on to define the concept of next-generation firewalls. Many vendors underwent technical and commercial reformulations to keep up with the trends they would follow in the coming years. Many of the other known features have been upgraded, most of them only commercial, to the next generation term, as was the case with NGIPS.
The technologies behind firewall solutions have changed a lot in the last few years, driven by the convergence of information and knowledge to the electronic world, and the internet was a great impetus for that to happen. In the coming years we will see major changes with IoT (Internet of Things) and many other new challenges for mobile devices that already have significant presence in the corporate world. History does not stop being built.
Did you know the evolution of firewalls over time? Tell us about your experience reading this article and help us contribute to its construction. Improve your knowledge by reading the article Firewall: Learn the main differences between UTM and NGFW.