Gateways can take several forms -- including routers or computers -- and can perform a variety of tasks. These range from simply passing traffic on to the next hop on its path to offering complex traffic filtering, proxies or protocol translations at various network layers.
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The most common gateway is the internet gateway, which connects a home or enterprise network to the internet. An internet gateway also often acts as a security node, variously filling one or more security roles, such as proxy server, firewall or network address translation (NAT) server. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and virtual WAN systems serve as gateways between an enterprise network and two or more wide area networks (WANs).
In most IP-based networks, the only traffic that doesn't go through at least one gateway is traffic flowing among nodes on the same local area network (LAN) segment -- for example, computers connected to the same switch.
The following other types of gateways focus on higher protocol layers:
- Web application firewalls filter traffic to and from a web server and look at application-layer data;
- Cloud storage gateways translate storage requests with various cloud storage service API calls;
- Cloud bridges connect networks and services inside a data center to a virtual data center in an infrastructure as a service environment, or between IaaS environments;
- API, SOA or XML gateways manage traffic flowing into and out of a service, microservices-oriented architecture or an XML-based web service.
What are the purchasing criteria for network access control products?
Looking to buy network security tools to keep your gateways secure? Before you do, gain a better understanding of the basics and learn how network security tools have evolved. Also learn the right questions to ask before you buy.
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- This Buyer's Guide examines network security basics, starting with four critical network security tools for any enterprise.