PAN-OS 10.2 Nebula Is a Monumental Leap Forward

Apr 26, 2022
5 minutes
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What's in a Name?

As many of you noticed, Palo Alto Networks recently introduced PAN-OS 10.2 Nebula, the latest release of our industry-leading cybersecurity operating system. The same operating system that already protects more than 80,000 customers around the world. And yet, PAN-OS 10.2 represents something entirely new in both function, as well as fashion. This release marked the first time we’ve given our groundbreaking software a name – Nebula.

Nebula comes at a significant moment in cybersecurity. Cyber attackers and cyber threats are growing exponentially. Unknown threats have evolved to become even more evasive and can more easily bypass legacy or inadequate security and remain undetected long enough to steal data, disrupt applications and take down networks. While signature-based detection approaches remain critical to preventing known threats, a new approach is required to protect organizations from attacks that use evasive techniques.

“Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language."
— Dale Carnegie

Nebula Brings Deep Learning Inline to Stop the Most Evasive Threats as They Happen

Simply put, Nebula helps organizations stay ahead of evasive threats. By bringing together machine learning and, for the first time ever, inline deep learning, Nebula allows Palo Alto Networks customers to stop the most evasive threats as they happen. Deep learning, a subset of traditional machine learning, uses multi-layer artificial neural networks to move beyond the structured data analysis of machine learning and analyze data more in the way a human would. Unlike traditional machine learning, deep learning doesn’t require data scientists to tell the system what to look for; it doesn’t require defined data sets; and it continues to become more effective as more data is added.

For these reasons, deep learning is particularly useful from a security perspective in finding new threats and malware variants as compared to machine learning. When deep learning is brought inline, analysis can be done on real, live traffic – where attackers may be hiding – as it enters the network. Nebula marks the first time Palo Alto Networks customers have the ability to stop these unknown attacks as they happen, not just remediate them after the fact. This is a monumental leap forward, giving organizations around the world the protection they need and, we believe, they deserve.

NEXT Stops Zero-Day Threats in Zero Time

In a threat environment where evasive attacks make detection much more difficult, Nebula delivers more effective security than other vendors in three key areas:

Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities – As noted, traditional, signature-based detection approaches can no longer keep pace with today’s diverse and dynamic threat environment. Nebula uses the power of data and deep learning applied inline to actively block evasive attacks before they can compromise organizational assets.

Coverage Across Key Evasive Attack Vectors – Many attacks use the web in some form. The rise in remote work and the amount of time knowledge workers spend online has made this an attractive entry point for attackers. The ability to obfuscate their actions by exploiting the sheer scale of the Internet, as well as commonly used Internet protocols, only makes attackers that much more likely to focus their efforts here.

Our best-in-class Advanced URL Filtering, DNS Security and Advanced Threat Prevention deliver real-time visibility into web traffic and content. Our new and enhanced cloud-delivered security services identify and prevent attacker communications across channels used for stealth, including HTTPS, DNS and others, allowing organizations to prevent an incident from becoming a breach by ensuring data exfiltration can be detected.

Automated Intelligent Management Across Security Tools – Even if they include advanced machine learning and broad coverage across evasive vectors, security tools will not help organizations be as effective as possible without efficient management. IoT Security automates device discovery and policy creation via machine learning analytics, which helps security teams ensure the proper controls are in place and prevent attackers from exploiting unknown or unsecured devices.

As Dale Carnegie implied above, a name reminds us of the importance of the people, places and things that are important to us. The impact that moments in time have on us and over time describe who we are and what we represent to those who come to know us.

Nebulas are intermixed clouds formed in space where stars both end and begin. While they look like works of art in space, they are also incredibly important parts of our ecosystem, much like the Nebula we’ve created for your operating system. When we were choosing a name for the software that is beginning a new era, we had a lot of choices. Our PAN-OS operating system already secures so many, and it now has the power to stop the most advanced unknown and zero day threats inline. It is beautiful in both its effectiveness and its simplicity, as it spans entire networks to protect your HQ and branch devices, remote applications, data centers and the public cloud. We call it, PAN-OS 10.2 Nebula.

Learn how organizations can leverage inline deep learning to stop today’s most sophisticated attacks as they happen by reading Requirements for Preventing Evasive Threats. Then, register for our Tech Deep Dive Miniseries, where you'll get an in-depth look at the latest advancements in cybersecurity, best practices, tips, tricks and demos.

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