Sophos Takes On Encrypted Network Traffic With New XG Firewall 18

By leveraging SophosLabs intelligence, the new firewall is able to rapidly push safe or known traffic through while quarantining only the unknown or unsafe traffic for deep packet inspection.

Sophos has debuted a new version of its XG Firewall that provides visibility into previously unobservable transport mechanisms while retaining high levels of performance.

The Oxford, U.K.-based platform security vendor will make it more difficult for adversaries to hide information in different protocols by inspecting all encrypted traffic with the XG Firewall 18, according to Chief Product Officer Dan Schiappa. Adversaries are turning to encryption in their exploits, with 23 percent of malware families using encrypted communication for command and control or installation.

“We’ve kind of turned the light on in a kitchen full of roaches,” Schiappa told CRN.

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[Related: 10 Things To Know About The Planned $3.82 Billion Thoma Bravo-Sophos Deal]

Pricing for the Sophos XG Firewall starts at $359 per year and scales based on term length and model, according to the company. The performance of the XG Firewall has been vastly improved by better determining which applications and traffic should go through the company’s deep packet inspection engine, according to Schiappa.

By leveraging SophosLabs intelligence, the company is able to rapidly push safe or known traffic through while quarantining only the unknown or unsafe traffic for deep packet inspection, he said. The XG Firewall will also be easier to manage in Sophos Central with better alert engines and reporting capabilities, according to Schiappa.

Sophos Central now has full firewall management capabilities, meaning that customers can apply policies universally across multiple firewalls from the central dashboard and granularly adjust settings for a specific firewall from the same location. In addition, synchronized app control has strengthened the sharing of information between the endpoint and the firewall, Schiappa said.

The company has been working on the XG Firewall 18 for more than two years, he said, and considers it to be the most transformative version of the XG thanks to the new Xstream architecture.

“We really wanted to build the firewall without any historical backdrop,” Schiappa said. “We’ll have the most next-gen and recent firmware OS on the market, and that was something that was important to us.”

The improvements Sophos has made around security and performance combined with the vast gains in its natural rules engine will make the XG Firewall much more credible to enterprises, according to Schiappa. Adding enterprise management functionality also will help Sophos attract larger customers at a much higher rate than in the past, Schiappa said.

“We now have an enterprise-credible firewall, but we’re never going to abandon our sweet spot in the SMB and midmarket,” he said.

Existing Sophos customers will get the XG Firewall 18 as part of the normal upgrade process without any type of new license required, according to Schiappa. Customers will be notified when the Xstream architecture is available for their model of firewall.

The growth of Sophos Central and embrace of synchronized security have dramatically increased the number of Sophos products being used by the average customer, according to Schiappa. Although the XG Firewall 18 is a great stand-alone product, it also represents a golden opportunity for channel partners to expand their footprint with endpoint-focused customers into the network.

“This was a big effort, and I think it’s going to be worth it,” he said.