Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Valuable Features

Lead Network Administrator at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
With the FMC and the FirePOWERs, the ability to quickly replace a piece of hardware without having to have a network outage is useful. Also, the ability to replace a piece of equipment and deploy the config that the previous piece of equipment had is pretty useful. The administration is a little easier on the FirePOWER appliances because we're not using two separate products. For example, in the ASAs with FirePOWER Services, we were using the FMC to manage the FirePOWER Services, but we were still using ASDM for the traditional Layer 2 and Layer 3 rulesets. That is all combined in FMC for the FirePOWER devices. Our particular version includes application visibility and control. Most next-gen firewalls do. The product is maturing with what they call FirePOWER Threat Defense, which is the code that runs on the firewalls themselves. The FirePOWER Threat Defense software has matured somewhat. There were some issues with some older versions where they didn't handle things in a predictable manner. Applications that we didn't have a specific rule for may have been allowed through until it could identify them as a threat. We reorganized our rules, because of that "feature," in a different way so that those extra packets weren't getting through and we weren't having to wait so long for the assessment of whether they should be allowed or not. We took a different approach for those unknowns and basically created a whitelist/blacklist model where applications on the list were allowed through. Then, as you progressed into the ruleset, some of those features became more relevant and we stopped this. We looked at it as "leaky" because it was allowing some packets in that we didn't want in, while it made the determination of whether or not those applications were dangerous. Our mindset was to assume they're dangerous before letting them in so we had to adjust our ruleset for that. As the product matures, they've come out with better best practices related to it. Initially, there wasn't a lot of best-practice information for these. We may have been a little early in deploying the FirePOWER appliances versus continuing on with the adaptive security appliances, the old PIX/ASA model of firewalls. Cisco proposed this newer model and our VAR agreed it would be a benefit to us. There was a bit of a transition. The way they handle the processing of applications is different between the ASAs and the FirePOWERs. There were growing pains for us with that. But ultimately, the ability to have this configured to the point where I could choose a specific user and create a rule which says this user can use this application, and they'll be able to do it from whatever system they want to, has been advantageous for our functionality and our ability to deliver services more quickly. There haven't been a lot of specific use cases for that, other than troubleshooting things for myself. But having the knowledge that that functionality is there, is helpful. Certainly, we do have quite a few rules now which are based on "this application is allowed, this whole set of applications is blocked." It does make that easier because, in the past, you generally did that by saying, "This port is allowed, this port is blocked." Now we can say, not the ports; we're doing it by the services, or instead of by the services we're doing it by the applications. It makes it a little bit easier. And Cisco has taken the step of categorizing applications as well, so we can block an entire group of applications that fall under a particular category. For the most part, it's very good for giving us visibility into the network, in conjunction with other products that give us visibility into users as well as remote items. It's really good at tracking internal things, really good at tracking people, and really good at giving us visibility as to what's hitting us, in most situations. In general, Cisco is doing a pretty good job. Since we started the deploy process, they've increased the number of best-practice and configuration-guidance webinars they do. Once a month they'll have one where they show how we can fix certain things and a better way to run certain things. The product continues to improve as well. Some of the features that were missing from the product line when it was first deployed — I was using it when it was 6.2 — are in 6.4. We had some of them in ASDM and they were helpful for troubleshooting, but they did not exist on the FirePOWER side of things. They've slowly been adding some of those features. They have also been improving the integration with ISE and some of the other products that utilize those resources. It's getting better. View full review »
Network Administration Lead at Forest County Potawatomi Community
The most valuable features of Cisco firewalls are the IPS and IDS items. We find them very helpful. Those are the biggest things because we have some odd, custom-made products in our environment. What we've found through the IPS and IDS is that their vulnerability engines have caught things that are near-Zero-day items, inside of our network. Those items are capable being exploited although they were not actually being exploited. Being able to see what those exploits are, the potential for vulnerabilities and exploits, is critical for us. View full review »
IT Infrastructure Specialist at RANDON S.A
For us, the main feature is due to the fact that we have internet connections for all these sites, and we use the internet to communicate with our data center using VPN. So the VPN support in these boxes is one of the most valuable features. Also, with the firewall itself, the protection and security features, like URL filtering, the inspection, and the IPS feature, are also very valuable for us. We don't have IT staff at most of the sites so for us it's important to have a robust firewall at those sites, to support the business and give us peace of mind. If we do have an incident, since we don't have any IT personnel there for support, we need to do everything remotely. It provides us with application visibility and control. We can see, on the dashboard, all the applications that are most used and which are under some sort of risk or vulnerability. From my perspective, which is more related to the network itself and the infrastructure, not the security aspect, it helps a lot when we need to check some situation or issue that could be related to any attack or any violation. We can see that there are one or two or three applications that are the top-consuming applications. We can use this information to analyze if there is a deviation or if it's something that we need to consider as normal behavior and increase the bandwidth on the site. It's very important to have this analytic view of what's happening. That's especially true for us, since we have information on all these remote sites but we don't have IT resources on-premises. Having this view of all the sites in the same pane of glass is very important. It's not just the visibility of things, but the management of application behavior is very important. If I see that, for example, Facebook is consuming too much bandwidth, I can make a policy on the console here and deploy it to our remote offices. So the application visibility feature is one of the key parts of the solution. NGFW's ability to provide visibility into threats is also one of the important features. Although we have several applications that are based on-premises — we have databases and file servers that only exist inside the company or inside those remote sites — we see more traffic going to and coming from the internet every day. It's not optional anymore to have visibility into all this traffic. More and more, we are moving things to Office 365 or other SaaS platforms which are hosted on the internet. We need to see this traffic crossing our network. It's a top priority for us. When it comes to Talos, I recognized the importance of it before they were even calling it Cisco Talos. As a user of the URL filtering product, the IronPort appliances, for six or seven years, perhaps or more, I was introduced, at that time, to a community that was called, which was like the father of the Cisco Talos. Knowing them from that time, and now, the work they do is very important. It provides knowledge of what is happening in the security space. The information they can collect from all the hardware and software they have deployed with their customers is great. But the intelligence they also have to analyze and provide fixes for things like Zero-day attacks, for example, is crucial. They are able to map and categorize risks. They're unbeatable, currently. Although we know that other vendors have tried to replicate this service or feature, the history they have and the way they do their work, make it unbeatable currently. View full review »
Learn what your peers think about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2020.
442,141 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Dave Cooper
Network Engineer at CoVantage Credit Union
It's the brick wall that keeps us from the bad guys. It does a lot of things. In the beginning when you just have a firewall, of course, it's your NAT and it's your Access Control List. It's the thing that allows traffic in and out. There is some routing involved in that too. But once you add Firepower onto to it and you start enabling some of its features, you get some IDS/IPS involved with it and you can even do web filtering. We used to do some web filtering on the Firepower but we moved into Umbrella once we started. We do use Firepower for one piece of web filtering because Umbrella has yet to provide it: advertisement blocking. We don't allow our end-users to go into advertisements. If they're going to go to a site, they have to know what the site is, not just try to hit some kind of Google ad to get to it because those can be dangerous. View full review »
Security Architect
The IPS, as well as the malware features, are the two things that we use the most and they're very valuable. Cisco Talos is also very good. I had the chance to meet them at Cisco Live and during the Talos Threat Research Summit. I don't know if they are the leader in the threat intelligence field but they are very competent. They are also very good at explaining complicated things easily. We use all of their blacklist, threat intelligence, and malware stuff on our FTDs. We also use the website from Talos where you can get web reputation and IP reputation. View full review »
Al Faruq Ibna Nazim
Head of Technology at BDPEER Ltd.
Cisco Firepower NGFW is really easy to use right now to determine when my file requires a shift from primary to secondary status, and it can be done with automation. Earlier we used to do this with patching. I would say the Cisco Firepower NGFW actually gives superior intelligent behavior to transfer its active/passive infrastructure. Overall, Cisco Firepower NGFW has been a good power element in our systems due to its central location. View full review »
Girish Vyas
Architect - Cloud Serviced at NTT Global Networks
Firepower is an okay product. However, it is better as a firewall than the IPS or other services it provides. View full review »
Maharajan S
Associate Vice President - IT Infrastructure at Navitas Life Sciences
The advance malware protection (AMP) is valuable because we didn't previously have this when we had an enterprise gateway. Depending on the end user, they could have EDR or antivirus. Now, we have enabled Cisco AMP, which give us more protection at the gateway level. The application visibility is also valuable. Previously, with each application, we would prepare and develop a report based on our knowledge. E.g., there are a couple business units using the SAS application, but we lacked visibility into the application layer and usage. We use to have to configure the IP or URL to give us information about usage. Now, we have visibility into concurrent SAS/Oracle sessions. This solution gives us more visibility into the inbound/outbound traffic being managed. This application visibility is something new for us and very effective because we are using Office 365 predominantly as our productivity tool. Therefore, when users are accessing any of the Office 365 apps, this is directly identified and we can see the usage pattern. It gives us more visibility into our operations, as I can see information in real-time on the dashboards. View full review »
Henry Pan
Technical Consulting Manager at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
The most valuable feature is the intelligence. It sends a warning for a potential attack, a zero-day attack. It sends us an advanced warning. We really like this feature. We use other Cisco tools for switches, routers, and AppDynamics. We also use their wireless tool. We are Cisco's biggest partner, so we use the majority of their solutions. This is one of the reasons people become a Cisco-shop, because of the integration. The integration between these products isn't perfect. Firepower provides us with application visibility and control. We have a standard evaluation procedure with around 136 criteria. We have a team that does the evaluation and there were viruses reported. In terms of its ability to provide visibility into threats, we put a different application to be tested. We check how much we can see. What kind of network traffic goes through different devices. We know what's going on. If something went wrong, we see the attack, we know where and which attack. We put it into our testing center. You can never get 100% visibility. Sometimes we can't detect until the damage is done. That is the danger of being in the firewall business. You never know what kinds of tricks a hacker will use. It's endless work. Talos is pretty decent. It offers smart intelligence. It helps my team detect what is going on. Without it, the ability of the power stations would be much less. Talos is one of the reasons that we go with Cisco. It is a big advantage. We use automated policy application and enforcement. Any of the networks are very complex. It has freed up a lot of our time. Now, it's much better but it's still far from enough. We have saved 90% of our time due to the automation. Firepower has improved our enterprise defense ability by a lot. We use the whole suite of Cisco device management options. Compared to ten years ago, I have seen a lot of improvement, but it's still far from enough. I wish the intelligence will be improved. There is a big learning curve now. If a new gear comes into place, then the first three months aren't so accurate. With machine learning, it is getting better. The intelligence should be there from day one. But it will still need to learn the environment and which attack is the most common. We are still trying to figure out the best practices for harmonizing policies and enforcement across heterogeneous networks. It's something new. More and more applications are going onto the cloud and we need the hybrid Firepower ability. View full review »
Zhulien Keremedchiev
Lead Network Security Engineer at TechnoCore LTD
The most valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy. Again, with that being said, I cannot shy away from giving kudos to all of the other features such as AVC (Application Visibility and Control), SSL Decryption, Identity policy, Correlation policy, REST API, and more. All of the features that are incorporated in the Cisco Firepower NGFW are awesome and easy to configure if you know what you are doing. Things almost always work, unless you hit a bug, which is fixed with a simple software update. View full review »
Senior Network Support & Presales Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
The Firepower Management Center is an easy way to manage the devices centrally. I guess this is something that all vendors provide so it's nothing special. I like the way Firepower presents the data. It gives you two classifications for the evidence, something based on the priority of the evidence and another classification based on the impact of the evidence in your environment. This makes it very easy to spot the evidence that is most impactful to my environment. Instead of having to go through all the evidence based on that priority, I can focus on the evidence that has the most impact on my environment. Sometimes you might have a high priority event but it has nothing to do with your environment. You have a vulnerability. You don't have to treat a vulnerability as an attack. Since you're not vulnerable, it's not impactful to your environment so you don't have to focus on it. This is something that other products don't provide. It is very flexible. You can have the next generation firewall work as a physical connection or as a Layer 2 device. You can have a combination of Layer 2 and Layer 3, which is really good. View full review »
Senior Data Scientist & Analytics at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
The architecture of FTD is great because it has an in-depth coverage and because it uses the AVC, (Application, Visibility, and Control) and also rate limits. Also, the architecture of fast paths is great. View full review »
IT Specialist at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
We can easily track unauthorized users and see where traffic is going. It is very useful. FTD is also fully integrated with Talos. We are in the process of acquiring it and we will integrate it. That way we will have everything from Talos to do correlations. View full review »
Sikander Ali
IT Infrastructure Engineer at Atlas Group
One of the most valuable features is the AMP. It's very good and very reliable when it comes to malicious activities, websites, and viruses. It also handles application vulnerabilities. I have blocked some applications in my Firepower. In addition, there are predefined policies that come with the Firepower and I have created my own policies as well. We also use Cisco switches, the 2920 for Layer 2 and the 3560 for Layer 3. The Firepower is integrated with the 3560. I have configured a gateway on the 3560 and all our traffic goes through the switch and is then passed on to the Firepower. The integration between the two was very easy. View full review »
Syed Khalid Ali
Senior Solution Architect at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
The Firepower+ISE+AMP for endpoint integration is something that really stands it out with other vendor solutions. They have something called pxGrid and i think it is already endorsed by IETF. This allows all devices on the network to communicate. I find it to be a more proactive approach as all devices collaborate with ISE in real time. I did a demo for a customer and there were no second thoughts in the usability of the solution. You should give it a try to find out more about how this works. View full review »
Ali Abdo
Technical Manager at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
They give me more visibility of what's going on when traffic comes in and goes out from the company or comes in from the outside. I can see what's going on with this traffic, which is a nice feature. I also like the malware inspection and management of the dashboard features. The management of the dashboard is different from the old Cisco Firewall. This management brings everything together into one management platform. View full review »
Information Systems Manager at a non-profit with 1-10 employees
With this solution, you can have an inspection of each package and see what the threat level it's at. It has made the work more dynamic. We don't have to block as much like we had to in the old days. View full review »
Gerald Zauner
Data Center Architect at Fronius International
It has many features but not all of them work. The features aren't stable enough for us to use them. The most valuable features are the firewalling and the deep inspection. View full review »
Omid Najafi
Managing Director at Fasp
The most valuable feature of the Firepower solution is FireSIGHT, which can be easily managed and is user-friendly. View full review »
Network Engineer at IT Security
I like the easy administration. View full review »
Learn what your peers think about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2020.
442,141 professionals have used our research since 2012.