SD-WAN, IoT, and the disruptor taking aim at the enterprise firewall market – the first IoT firewall

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This is the second in a series of four posts by Tony Burgess.  You can read the first post here, and follow the series as it's published here

Yesterday we looked at a little history on enterprise firewalls.  Now let’s get back to early 2000s. That’s when a large bank in Germany decided that it wanted to upgrade its network of automated teller machines (ATMs). At the time, the bank had about 2,500 ATMs, all of them connecting to headquarters via a built-in telephone modem. They wanted to upgrade and future-proof their ATM network with a secure solution that would have the flexibility to adapt to coming infrastructure and connectivity modernization.

Specifically, they envisioned a firewall at each ATM, connected via a secure VPN network using the internet, with comprehensive, updatable security filtering. They wanted ethernet connections, but they also wanted to be able to failover to modem/landline if needed. And ideally, a 3G wireless modem to use as a last-resort failover connection. Plus more ports to allow for future connectivity upgrades.

Curious about the history of the Internet of things?  Here's the story of how one bank in Germany hired a small security company to create the first firewall specifically designed for IoT security . Click To Tweet

Moreover, they wanted all this in a small, rugged form factor that could be stuffed into, and survive in, all their existing ATM enclosures. Finally, they also wanted a centralized control unit to remotely provision, manage, and configure the entire network of 2,500 firewalls, requiring no more than two full-time administrators.

“phion has defined the next generation
of enterprise firewall technology,
bringing the security, management, and
reliability features needed to thwart
today’s ever-changing
threat environment,”
— Dean Drako, (former) president
and CEO of Barracuda Networks.
Barracuda Networks
Buys Austria’s Phion
September 29, 2009

At the time, phion AG was the name of a small Austrian firm that was earning a reputation for delivering purpose-built next-generation firewalls to address complex networking challenges, particularly in the finance sector. Once phion got wind of the big ATM project coming up, they contacted the bank and proposed a proof-of-concept.

The demonstration was a success, phion got the contract, and they delivered on all counts, meeting every one of their customer’s demanding requirements. In essence, they built, deployed, and configured the world’s first IoT firewall—that is, a firewall that was purpose-built from the ground up to secure and connect large numbers of remote devices, in a small, ruggedized form factor for harsh environments.

In addition, phion developed a separate centralized management unit that made the administration of thousands of firewalls incredibly simple and intuitive. Even today, no other vendor has a comparably powerful and easy-to-use solution for centralized management.

This unique approach drew Barracuda’s interest, and they soon acquired the young Austrian company. Barracuda saw more clearly than other vendors of the day that with the advent of the cloud era, the complexity of firewall management would soon become a core issue—one that phion had solved. They also saw that firewalls of the future would need to be portable by design—form-factor-agnostic to bridge hardware, virtual, and cloud deployments with complete transparency. Again, phion had laid the foundation.

'Barracuda saw more clearly than other vendors of the day that with the advent of the cloud era, the complexity of firewall management would soon become a core issue—one that phion had solved.' ~Tony BurgessClick To Tweet

The bank that inspired this new firewall design is still a Barracuda customer, currently upgrading their entire deployment to the latest firewall model. And more than a decade later, the newest generation of that firewall is still a winner. Already in 2018, Barracuda CloudGen Firewalls have won multiple deals to secure large IoT deployments involving 10,000-plus devices.

The team ships the first Barracuda NextGen Firewall
Stop by tomorrow for part three, The Road Less Travelled.  Check out part one here or keep up with the entire four-part series as it's published here.

For information on Barracuda CloudGen Firewalls and Internet of Things security, visit us online at



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