Check Point CloudGuard IaaS Review

Enables us to deliver connectivity in very short time frames and gives us much better control over sizing of firewalls


What is our primary use case?

We use CloudGuard IaaS for cloud security in AWS, and it serves all kinds of purposes for us. It could be internal segmentation between on-prem or between application VPCs, and it can also help us to provide perimeter security for those parts of the network that require internet access.

How has it helped my organization?

Our company has a very dynamic IT landscape, and the demand to go live is very high. That means we have to deliver connectivity in very short time frames, and we can do that using CloudGuard IaaS. Once we have figured out a working template for connectivity, it becomes our standard, and we can run connectivity for new applications within a day or two, and sometimes it might only take hours. In the past this would take a much longer time. We also now have much better control over the sizing of the firewalls, which gives us a lot of flexibility in our planning.

In addition, we use an existing on-premise appliance, which is a multi-domain security server. The use of CloudGuard's Unified Security Management was an easy part of our integration. We didn't need to make a lot of effort to incorporate the new firewalls. We just needed to apply some existing policies to the new firewall. We didn't have to develop something from scratch. We just used our existing infrastructure and existing policies, and it was the easiest part of the deployment. And the use of the Unified Security Management has definitely freed up security engineers to perform more important tasks.

What is most valuable?

The features of the solution which I have found most valuable are its flexibility and agility. It's a fully scalable solution, from our perspective. We can define scaling groups and, based on the load, it will create new instances. It's truly a product which is oriented toward the cloud mindset, cloud agility, and this is a great feature.

Check Point is a known leader in the area of block rate, so I don't have any complaints about it. It's working as expected. And similarly for malware prevention. When it comes to exploit resistance rate, it's excellent. I haven't seen any Zero-day vulnerabilities found in Check Point products in a very long time, which is not the case with other vendors.

The false positive rate is at an acceptable level. No one would expect a solution to be 100 percent free of false positives. It's obvious that we need to do some manual tuning. But for our specific environment and for our specific traffic, we don't see a lot of false positives.

Overall, the comprehensiveness of the solution's threat prevention security is great. It was changed in our "80." version and I know that Check Point put a lot of effort into threat prevention specifically, as a suite of products. They are trying to make it as simple as it can be. I have been working with Check Point for a long time, and in the past it was much more complicated for an average user, without advanced knowledge. Today it's more and more user-friendly. Check Point itself has started to offer managed services for transformation configuration. So if you don't have enough knowledge to do it yourself, you can rely on Check Point. It's a really great service.

Check Point recently released a feature which recognizes that many companies are going with the MITRE ATT&CK model of incident handling, and it has started to tailor its services to provide incident-related information in that format. It is easier for cyber security defense teams to analyze security incidents, based on the information that Check Point provides. It's great that this vendor looks for feedback from the industry and tries to make the lives of security professionals easier.

I highly rate the security that we are getting from the product, because the security research team is great. We all know that they proactively analyze numerous products available on the IT market, like applications and web platforms, and they find numerous vulnerabilities. And from a reactive point of view, as soon as a vulnerability is discovered, we see a very fast response time from Check Point and the relevant protection is usually released within a day, and sometimes even within a few hours. So the security is great.

What needs improvement?

Clustering has not been perfect from the very beginning. There weren't too many options for redundancy. It was improved in later versions, but that's something which should be available from the very beginning, because the cloud itself offers you a very redundant model with different availability zones, different regions, etc. But the Check Point product was a little bit behind in the past. 

The convergence time between cluster members is still not perfect. It's far away from what we get in traditional appliances. If a company wants to move mission-critical applications for an environment to the cloud, it somehow has to accept that it could have downtime of up to 40 seconds, until cluster members switch virtual IP addresses between themselves and start accepting the traffic. That is a little bit too high in my opinion. It's not fully Check Point's fault, because it's a hybrid mechanism with AWS. The blame is 50/50.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using CloudGuard IaaS for close to one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of the stability, so far everything is good. We have had no problems. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is also great. It's not complicated to configure it and the environment can become really scalable. Everything can be auto-provisioned: instances created, policies pushed, licenses installed. Check Point did a great job in covering all these aspects and reducing manual intervention, which is how it is supposed to be on the cloud.

It is deployed in all AWS regions and we plan to increase the number of security features in use in the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

Check Point's technical support is great. We are a Diamond customer, meaning we have the highest level of support available from them. We always have very competent engineers and the right level of attention. We haven't had an opportunity to test technical support regarding this product, but in general we are happy with technical support we get.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not have a similar previous solution. 

The favorable results of its security effectiveness score from third-party lab tests were not a major part of our consideration because Check Point is a known leader. There were no doubts about security.

As for the solution being a leader for many years in industry reviews of network firewalls, it is important to go with a solution that not only has good specs on paper, but also has a known record of success.

How was the initial setup?

The setup process offered by Check Point is quite straightforward. The challenge is that there is no single blueprint for an organization, and that's why each and every company chooses its own design for the cloud. That means we have to be creative and start adjusting whatever Check Point provided as a setup guide, for our needs.

Setting up a working environment took us approximately 10 days.

Our implementation strategy was quite simple. We first needed to understand the business needs and what the stakeholders wanted us to deliver. Based on that we created a design draft: How to proceed with the least complexity, the best way to provide connectivity, and obviously, to do everything in a secure way. After creating a high-level draft, we started our work. Since the environment was not really in production yet, it was a long path of trial and error. But at the end of the day, all aspects were accounted for, lessons were learned, and we adjusted our initial design and prepared operational documentation for our operational team.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is easy since this is a virtual instance which does not require RMA.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The cloud security provided by public cloud providers is great because it's cloud-native. Sometimes it comes without an additional cost or as part of a basic license, but it's definitely not enough for an enterprise environment. Everything comes back to operational complexity. I could incorporate a new, simple tool from a public provider, but on my side it would mean I would need to up-skill team members and manage an additional layer of security, and it could be hard for troubleshooting. To integrate these tools into the peripheral systems, like sending logs, and analyzing these logs, and maintaining additional rule sets from additional dashboards, would require additional efforts.

So cloud-native security has its own disadvantages. Many companies try to stick with the simplicity whenever they define the operational flows, but I prefer choosing Check Point everywhere in a hybrid environment to make my life easier from all perspectives.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned from using this solution is that network security is moving away from traditional deployments and companies have to adapt themselves to stay competitive.

We are fully managing the service. As soon as a new version is released on the Check Point site, they make sure to release it for CloudGuard as well. But so far, we have stayed with our original version. We haven't done any upgrades.

The integration process between CloudGuard and AWS Transit Gateway is not straightforward, because we're not talking about traditional networking. There are a lot of different aspects that we are still not used to keeping in mind. For example, routing is completely reworked in AWS. It's just a matter of time to get used to it. Once you get used to it, everything becomes relatively easy.

In terms of our workflow when using the integration between CloudGuard and AWS Transit Gateway, we needed to review our operational documentation and prepare additional guides for our operations team on how to do it. We needed to up-skill our team members, and we needed to utilize new technologies or new features, like BGP over VPN, to make communication secure in the cloud.

The solution provides security for numerous corporate applications and is under the responsibility of the operations team which consists of about 15 people. For deployment and maintenance of the solution we have one security operations engineer, one network operations engineer, one AWS operations engineer, and one SDWAN engineer.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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