Exploring AWS Network Firewall: Features, Use Cases, Pricing & More

1. Introduction to AWS Network Firewall

In the evolving digital landscape, securing your cloud infrastructure is not just optional; it’s essential. One of the pivotal elements of this security infrastructure is a robust and dependable firewall. 

AWS Network Firewall is a managed service that enables you to easily deploy essential network protections across your Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs). It offers flexible, granular controls over your VPC traffic, allowing you to define customizable rules for your inbound and outbound network traffic.

This Network Firewall operates at the perimeter of your VPC and provides scalable security across multiple accounts and VPCs, enabling you to isolate workloads while maintaining centralized control.

2. Key Features of AWS Network Firewall

AWS Network Firewall comes packed with features that provide you comprehensive control over your network traffic.

  • Stateful Inspection: This feature allows the firewall to analyze the complete context of a network connection, not just individual packets. It can make decisions based on the state of the network connection, including tracking active connections and inspecting all packets in their full context.
  • Stateless Inspection: For faster, broad matching, AWS Network Firewall uses stateless rule groups. They inspect each packet individually, which makes them useful for straightforward allow/block decisions.
  • Web Filtering: AWS Network Firewall can block access to malicious domains, preventing your network from becoming a source of harmful web traffic.
  • Alerting and Monitoring: With CloudWatch integration, AWS Network Firewall can send metrics and alerts, enabling you to closely monitor and respond to any changes in your network traffic patterns.
  • Support for IPv6 for dual-stack subnets, allowing the filtering of both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic. 
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) inspection for ingress VPC traffic, enabling the decryption, inspection, and re-encryption of TLS traffic without the need for additional network security infrastructure.

3. Use Cases of AWS Network Firewall

AWS Network Firewall can be leveraged for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Protecting Web Applications: AWS Network Firewall can protect your web applications from common web exploits that could affect availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources.
  • Securing Remote Access: You can use AWS Network Firewall to secure remote access to your AWS resources, creating a secure environment for your remote workforce. Related Reading: Fundamentals of Cloud Security
  • Enforcing Compliance: AWS Network Firewall can help enforce compliance requirements and security aspects of an enterprise cloud governance strategy by allowing you to control inbound and outbound traffic based on rules that align with your organization’s policies.
  • Comprehensive IDS/IPS on AWS: AWS Network Firewall, with its robust set of features, plays a vital role in an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) on AWS. It provides detailed alert logging and allows for proactive response to suspicious activity, acting as an effective IDS. Simultaneously, its stateful inspection, domain filtering, and custom action capabilities make it a powerful IPS, blocking potential threats in real-time.

4. Setting up AWS Network Firewall

Setting up AWS Network Firewall in your VPC involves a few steps. Here, we will walk through the process of creating a firewall policy, creating and configuring a firewall, and setting up stateful and stateless rule groups.

Step 1: Creating a Firewall Policy

A firewall policy defines the behavior of the firewall in terms of how it inspects and handles network traffic. You can create a firewall policy using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or one of the AWS SDKs.

Here is an example of how to create a firewall policy using the AWS CLI:

aws network-firewall create-firewall-policy --firewall-policy-name MyFirewallPolicy --firewall-policy file://myfirewallpolicy.json

The myfirewallpolicy.json file should define the rules for stateful and stateless rule groups.

Step 2: Creating a Firewall

You can create a firewall using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or one of the AWS SDKs. For this guide, we will use the AWS CLI.

To create a firewall, you would use the following AWS CLI command:

aws network-firewall create-firewall --firewall-name MyFirewall --firewall-policy-arn "arn:aws:network-firewall:us-west-2:123456789012:firewall-policy/MyFirewallPolicy" --vpc-id vpc-0abcd12efgh34ijkl

This command creates a firewall named MyFirewall, attaches the policy MyFirewallPolicy, and assigns it to the VPC with the ID vpc-0abcd12efgh34ijkl.

Step 3: Creating Stateful and Stateless Rule Groups

Stateful rule groups inspect network traffic based on the context of the network connection, while stateless rule groups inspect each packet individually. 

You can create these rule groups using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or one of the AWS SDKs.

Here’s an example of creating a stateful rule group using the AWS CLI:

aws network-firewall create-rule-group --rule-group-name MyStatefulRuleGroup --type STATEFUL --rule-group file://mystatefulrulegroup.rules

The mystatefulrulegroup.rules file should define the rules for stateful inspection.

For a complete and detailed guide on setting up AWS Network Firewall, refer to the official AWS Network Firewall Documentation.

5. Best Practices

In order to maximize the benefits of AWS Network Firewall and maintain a secure network environment, follow these best practices:

  • Regularly Reviewing Rules: Security needs evolve, and so should your firewall rules. Regularly review and update your rules to ensure they align with your current security posture.
  • Monitoring Network Traffic: Use the monitoring capabilities of AWS Network Firewall, like AWS CloudWatch integration, to keep a close eye on your network traffic patterns. Any anomalies could indicate a potential security threat.
  • Testing and Validating Rules: Before deploying new rules, ensure that they are tested and validated. This can prevent potential disruptions to your network traffic and ensure that the rules are effective in securing your network.

6. AWS Network Firewall Pricing

Understanding AWS Network Firewall pricing is essential for managing your AWS costs effectively. The pricing is based on several factors, including the amount of data processed, the number of Network Firewall endpoints, and the duration of usage.

Data Processing

The cost of AWS Network Firewall is primarily determined by the amount of data processed by your firewall endpoints. The more data that goes through the firewall, the more you pay.

Data processing costs vary by region. For example, in the US East (N. Virginia) region, the cost is $0.065 per GB. In the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) region, the cost is $0.10 per GB.

For the most up-to-date and detailed pricing information, refer to the AWS Network Firewall Pricing page.

Firewall Endpoints

Each VPC that uses AWS Network Firewall requires at least one firewall endpoint, and each endpoint incurs a cost.

You pay for each hour that the endpoint is provisioned, regardless of the amount of data processed. The cost varies by region. In the US East (N. Virginia) region, the cost is $0.395 per hour, while in the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) region, the cost is $0.595 per hour.

Surcharge for Domains

AWS Network Firewall charges an additional fee for each domain on your allow or deny lists for domain filtering. The cost is $10 per million domains per month.

AWS Free Tier

If you’re new to AWS, you might be eligible for the AWS Free Tier, which includes 1,000 hours of Amazon VPC usage and 15 GB of data processing at no cost each month for one year.

Remember, it’s essential to consider these costs when designing your network infrastructure on AWS. Always design with cost optimization in mind. For more insights into AWS cost optimization, read our article on AWS Glue Cost Optimization.

Also, preparing for AWS job interviews? Our article on Top 25 AWS S3 Interview Questions and Answers can help you get ready!

7. Alternatives to AWS Network Firewall

While AWS Network Firewall provides comprehensive network protection, there are alternatives within the AWS ecosystem that cater to more specific use cases:

  • AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall): If your primary concern is protecting your HTTP and HTTPS applications from common web exploits, AWS WAF might be a better fit. It provides control over which traffic to allow or block to your applications by defining customizable web security rules.
  • Security Groups: For stateful filtering at the instance level, AWS Security Groups are a simple and effective solution. They act as a virtual firewall for your instance to control inbound and outbound traffic. For more insights into security groups, check out our article on EC2 Security Group facts.
  • Network ACLs: Network Access Control Lists (ACLs) provide stateless filtering at the subnet level. They offer an additional layer of security and can be used alongside Security Groups.
  • AWS Shield: If you’re specifically looking for DDoS protection, AWS Shield provides advanced DDoS mitigation mechanisms.
  • AWS Managed Firewall Service for VPC: This is an AWS Partner Network (APN) solution that provides managed firewall services. This could be a valid option if you’re looking for a third-party managed solution.

Remember, choosing the right solution depends on your specific needs and the nature of the network traffic you’re dealing with.

8. Conclusion

Securing your network is crucial in today’s cybersecurity landscape, and AWS Network Firewall offers a robust, scalable solution to protect your Amazon VPCs. With features like stateful and stateless inspection, web filtering, and the recently introduced support for IPv6 and TLS inspection, it offers comprehensive network protection.

While there are alternatives like AWS WAF and Security Groups, AWS Network Firewall is a dedicated managed firewall service that provides granular control over network traffic at the VPC level. With its flexible pricing and the ability to handle complex, large-scale deployments, AWS Network Firewall is a valuable asset in any AWS-powered environment.

In the ever-changing world of cloud security, staying updated is key. For more insights into cloud security and AWS, visit our article on Cloud Security Explained and our comprehensive list of Cloud Architect Interview Questions & Answers.


How much does a network firewall cost?

AWS Network Firewall cost depends on data processing, number of endpoints, and duration of use, with specific rates varying by region. Network Firewall Endpoint in US East region costs $0.395/hr

Why use AWS Network Firewall?

AWS Network Firewall provides robust, adaptable security solutions that scale seamlessly with your AWS infrastructure, ensuring comprehensive protection against cyber threats.

How to implement a network firewall in AWS?

To implement a network firewall in AWS, create firewall endpoints in your Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), configure data processing rules, and set up domain filtering criteria to tailor security measures to your specific needs.

Which AWS service acts as a firewall?

AWS Network Firewall serves as a specialized, dedicated firewall service, providing advanced security and traffic filtering capabilities within the AWS ecosystem.

Is AWS security group a firewall?

Yes, AWS Security Groups function as virtual firewalls, offering finely tuned control over inbound and outbound traffic for EC2 instances, enhancing network security.

What are the primary factors affecting AWS Network Firewall pricing?

The cost of AWS Network Firewall primarily depends on the volume of data processed, the quantity of firewall endpoints deployed, and the overall duration of service usage.

Can AWS Network Firewall pricing vary by region?

Yes, both data processing and endpoint provisioning costs vary by region.

Is there a surcharge for domain filtering in AWS Network Firewall?

Yes, there’s an additional fee of $10 per million domains per month for domain filtering.

Does AWS offer any free tier for Network Firewall usage?

AWS Free Tier includes 1,000 hours of Amazon VPC usage and 15 GB of data processing per month for one year.

How can I optimize costs when using AWS Network Firewall?

To optimize costs with AWS Network Firewall, strategically design your network infrastructure focusing on efficiency, monitor and adjust firewall usage regularly, and leverage cost-effective settings and AWS Free Tier benefits where applicable.