Sophos XGS Firewall

Sophos XGS Series firewall features Transport Layer Security inspection

With its findings that the surge in cybercriminals using Transport Layer Security (TLS), security solutions firm Sophos introduced its new XGS Series firewall appliances, which promises to deliver advanced protection against cyberattacks.

The research titled “Nearly Half of Malware Now Use TLS to Conceal Communications,” details how adversaries encrypt and encapsulate the content of malicious communications to avoid detection as they carry out attacks.

To illustrate, 45% of malware detected by Sophos from January to March 2021 used TLS to conceal malicious communications. That is a rise from the 23% Sophos reported in early 2020. Sophos has also seen an increase in the use of TLS to carry out ransomware attacks in the past year, particularly with manually deployed ransomware. The majority of malicious TLS traffic that Sophos has detected includes initial-compromise malware, such as loaders, droppers, and document-based installers like BazarLoader, GoDrop, and ZLoader.

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The XGS Series firewall appliances feature Transport Layer Security (TLS) inspection, including native support for TLS 1.3, which is up to five times faster than other models available on the market today.

“Security teams can no longer afford to overlook encrypted traffic for fear of breaking something or hurting performance — there’s too much at risk,” said Dan Schiappa, chief product officer at Sophos. “We’ve completely redesigned the Sophos Firewall hardware to handle the modern encrypted internet. Security teams now can easily inspect encrypted traffic and shine a light on what was once a black hole, and they can confidently do so without compromising on performance.”

Cybercriminals use TLS to avoid detection

“TLS has undoubtedly changed the privacy of internet communications for the better, but for all the good it’s done, it’s also made it much easier for attackers to download and install malicious modules and exfiltrate stolen data right under the noses of IT security teams and most security technologies,” said Schiappa. “Attackers are taking advantage of TLS-protected web and cloud services for malware delivery and command and control. Their initial compromise malware is simply the advance guard for major attacks, as they’re setting up camp for the heavy artillery that follows, like ransomware.”

Accelerating Threat Protection Powered by Sophos Firewall’s Xstream architecture, XGS Series appliances promise to deliver the industry’s best zero-day threat protection, identifying and stopping the most advanced known and potential threats including ransomware. Protection is fueled by powerful threat intelligence, available only through SophosLabs Intelix and based on petabytes of SophosLabs threat data. Suspicious files are safely detonated in SophosLabs Intelix virtual environments and subjected to in-depth static analysis for additional detection coverage and intelligence gathering.

Software as a service

New Xstream flow processors within the appliances automatically accelerate trusted traffic, such as software as a service (SaaS), software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN), and cloud applications, providing maximum headroom for traffic requiring TLS and deep packet inspection. Sophos claims that it greatly reduces latency and improves overall performance for important business applications, particularly those using real-time data. The Xstream flow processors are software programmable, allowing Sophos to offload additional traffic in the future. The flexibility to enhance and adapt connectivity on the hardware itself further protects customers’ hardware investment.

Sophos provides unique and intuitive dashboard visibility of TLS traffic and inspection issues, and security administrators can add exceptions for problematic streams with one click. Performance is also optimized out of the box with an extensive set of rules that are updated and maintained by SophosLabs to exclude safe traffic from inspection.

Sophos Firewall XGS Series appliances and firmware are easily managed on the cloud-based Sophos Central platform alongside Sophos’ entire portfolio of next-generation cybersecurity solutions. Solutions share threat intelligence and automatically respond to security incidents through Sophos’ unique synchronized security approach. Integration with Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) further boosts protection with human analysis for 24/7 fully managed threat detection and response.