“You’ve got a level of network monitoring now that’s built into the firewall, and external threat intelligence,” Plaggemier says. “The minute you bring something to market, it’s already out of date because things are changing so quickly in security. So, having that communication with a threat intelligence network can help people keep their information up to date to identify bad actors.”
Next-Gen Firewalls Boost Bandwidth and Block Restricted Content
In addition to malware protection, NGFW application-layer controls can also help schools maximize bandwidth capabilities. For example, they might limit video streaming to teachers who use it for lesson planning, while giving bandwidth precedence to online testing so streamers don’t compromise students’ test-taking experience.
“It might allow somebody to look at Facebook, but maybe not play games on it,” Norman says. “A lot of our schools do content restriction.”
Having intrusion detection and prevention and content provisioning in a single platform also enhances network visibility, Norman says, which can help facilitate system management and cyberthreat prevention efforts, even for K–12 schools that don’t have an extensive IT staff.
“In a lot of ways, it simplifies what admins have to do,” he says. Some NGFWs can show “what web browser versions are running on the network, or where schools seem really vulnerable.”
A robust level of protection may be necessary, Fadhil says, because today’s cyberattacks are increasingly nuanced and more applications were adopted to facilitate remote learning during the pandemic, increasing students’ online exposure.
READ MORE: Asynchronous learning gains popularity following pandemic education adjustments.
Schools Benefit from Embracing a Single-Pane-of-Glass Cybersecurity Approach
When considering which specific next-gen firewall product to implement, Fadhil advises schools to look for a technology platform that can meet their evolving needs.
“Then you’re not limited by a solution that — when you need to go to the next level, and the next level after that — requires you to have multiple products when you have limited staff to learn, use and manage them,” Fadhil says. “It’s like wiring each room in a house differently, then needing an adapter for each room. The key here is a platform that’s integrated — you stay within the platform when you graduate to the next level.”