Improving Firewall Change Management

Changes – whether to a firewall, a router, or an application – are the single biggest cause of network outages. If you’re a firewall administrator, you know the anxiety of change all too well. Making a configuration change is pretty easy.

Making the right configuration change in a complex IT infrastructure requires investigation and planning. But firewall policies are too complicated, and there’s always too much to do – and you just got another access request.

Of course, your change management process helps you track each access request. Change management processes and the systems that support them display deadlines, send emails, and gather approvals. With them, you can manage a change ticket from beginning to end. With them, that’s about all you can do.

These processes don’t help you design the correct change from the beginning. That’s because standard change management processes lack the critical, device-specific intelligence to help you manage firewall changes. It’s no wonder; most IT change management processes and even some underlying technologies have been around since before firewalls.

So when the approvals are gathered and the change is deployed, when the ticket is closed and the right access has been granted in the wrong way, there’s a permanent record of an insecure and non-compliant firewall change.

I think there’s a better way. There is technology to automatically track firewall configuration changes, recommend correct changes, and supplement the change process to make it firewall-aware. And with it, you can start making the kind of firewall changes that you’d want to manage.

As Founder and CTO of Secure Passage, Jody Brazil is a seasoned entrepreneur with two decades of executive management experience and deep domain expertise in all aspects of networking, including network security design, network security assessment, and security product implementation. Before joining Secure Passage in 2004, Brazil spent eight years at FishNet Security, serving as their Chief Technology Officer, where he was responsible for providing direction for solutions to their customers. Previously, he was president and founder of Beta Technologies, a Network Services and Internet Application Development company. A few of Brazil's major accomplishments include his implementation of the first load balanced deployment of Check Point firewall software in 1997. A year later he engineered the security solution that allowed, for the first time, the transfer of criminal history data over the Internet as approved by the FBI. Brazil then released the first ever graphical firewall policy change view in 2001 and the first ever firewall rule usage analysis application in 2004. Brazil holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Kansas State University.