Holes found in majority of leading network firewalls

Firewalls are well understood as the main barriers between an organization’s internal and external networks. Over the past 25 years, they have become the foundation of perimeter security and are considered to be commodity products.

Now as another generation of firewall technology is taking hold, NSS Labs has begun testing both traditional network firewalls and so-called next generation firewalls. NSS Labs engineers have discovered serious flaws in these products, despite the maturity of the market and their certification by two other major certification bodies.

Researchers have found that:

  • Three out of six firewall products failed to remain operational when subjected to our stability tests. This lack of resiliency is alarming, especially considering the tested firewalls were ICSA Labs and Common Criteria certified.
  • Five out of six vendors failed to correctly handle the TCP Split Handshake spoof (aka Sneak ACK attack), thus allowing an attacker to bypass the firewall.
  • Measuring performance based upon RFC-2544 (UDP) does not provide an accurate representation of how the firewall will perform in live real-world environments.

“IT organizations worldwide have relied on third-party testing and been misled,” said Vik Phatak, CTO, NSS Labs. “These test results point towards the need for a much higher level of continuous testing of network firewalls to ensure they are delivering appropriate security and reliability.”

All leading network firewall vendors were invited to participate in the test at no cost. All testing was conducted independently and was not paid for by any vendor. Products tested in the report include:

  • Check Point Power-1 11065
  • Cisco ASA 5585
  • Fortinet Fortigate 3950
  • Juniper SRX 5800
  • Palo Alto Networks PA-4020
  • Sonicwall E8500.

The Network Firewall Comparative Group Test Report is available here.

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Holes found in majority of leading network firewalls