Security Experts:

New VMware Firewall Focuses on Known Good Behavior

VMware on Tuesday announced the launch of a new internal firewall solution designed to reduce an organization’s attack surface by focusing on known good behavior rather than attempting to chase potential threats.

The new VMware Service-defined Firewall aims to protect apps, data and users by locking down known good behavior both at host and network level.

VMware says that while other companies have tried this approach – focusing on known good behavior – getting a complete understanding of every application has been difficult to achieve. Some solutions rely on agents installed in the guest, but that can be impractical and these agents can be easily bypassed if an attacker gains complete control of the host. There are also some challenges related to applications being increasingly distributed.

The new solution leverages machine intelligence from millions of virtual machines to determine what represents good behavior for an application. This takes into account not only the application itself, but also its hundreds or thousands of microservices. Once a baseline has been established, security policies can be generated for the firewall.

VMware says its firewall cannot be bypassed even if an attacker gains root access to the system due to the fact that it can inspect the guest operating system and applications without being a resident in the guest.

Since the VMware firewall is a software solution, it can track applications across clouds, making it more efficient for distributed applications that rely on numerous components and have services that run across many servers.

The VMware Service-defined Firewall, which is advertised as a solution that can be used on its own for internal needs, works in bare metal, VM and container-based application environments.

“Intrinsic security is different than integrated security,” said Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager of the networking and security business unit at VMware. “Integrated security repackages existing solutions, such as taking a traditional firewall and making it a blade in a data center switch. It doesn’t fundamentally change the firewall. Intrinsic security takes advantage of the unique attributes that are built in to the virtualization platform, allowing us to create very new and unique security services. The new VMware Service-defined Firewall is focused on internal network firewalling and changes the game by validating known good application behavior, rather than chasing threats.”

VMware says the new Service-defined Firewall is immediately available. SecurityWeek has asked VMware about pricing for the new firewall, but the company says “there is no single price point at this time.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.