Virtual firewalls are a way to maximize your security dollar by consolidating multiple logical firewalls onto a single hardware platform. In Cisco Systems Inc. parlance, they're known as security contexts.
From a security perspective, they're a fine way to save a few bucks, as long as you purchase a product from a reliable vendor and configure it properly. Each virtual firewall has its own rulebase, interfaces and configuration options that make it completely independent from other virtual firewalls running on the same device. The independence of virtual firewalls means that a configuration mistake on one device won't affect the performance of other virtual firewalls.
One additional word of warning: If you're planning to use virtual firewalls, be sure to purchase highly redundant hardware. You don't want a single device failure taking down all of your firewalls!
If you have the complex network infrastructure that would benefit from multiple firewalls, virtual firewalls/security contexts are a great way to go!
For more information:
- What firewall controls should be placed on a VPN? Read more.
- Do virtual machines offer increased security protection? Find out more in this expert response.
This was first published in July 2009