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Fortinet unleashes FortiOS 7.6

Fortinet unleashes FortiOS 7.6

Fortinet today unveiled its FortiOS 7.6 operating system at its Accelerate 2024 event, alongside an array of new capabilities across its Security Fabric platform. The upgrades include new features for generative artificial intelligence (genAI), secure access service edge (SASE), managed services and network operations center (NOC) and security operations center (SOC) operations.

FortiOS is an integral part of Fortinet’s Security Fabric, which is the vendor’s security platform that pairs its software with hardware running on its custom ASICs and comprises over 50 products across networks, endpoints and clouds.

The new FortiOS 7.6 is designed to enable hundreds of enhancements across the Fortinet Security Fabric in areas such as SD-WAN, SASE, zero-trust network access (ZTNA), automation, provisioning, remote browser isolation and digital experience monitoring (DEM).

Fortinet Chief Marketing Officer John Maddison told SDxCentral the shift toward this platform-centric approach in cybersecurity emphasizes the dynamic nature of security requirements and the need for a flexible, integrated solution that can evolve with the threat landscape. “The question is, how far does the platform conversation go? We think it’s very much around the operating system.”

He added Fortinet is competing in four cybersecurity marketplaces including firewall, SD-WAN, SASE and wireless LAN, so there are new features across all these areas in this new FortiOS 7.6 release.

Meanwhile, Maddison highlighted the importance of the operating system’s capability to work across different places such as on-premises, across clouds and appliances as a thin edge.

“The FortiOS is spread. It’s not just a single instance inside an appliance that we do have that still, but it sits inside our data centers as an instance, it sits inside AWS, it sits inside a data center, it sits at a factory. And so what we do in there is apply different features of the OS depending on where you are inside the network,” he said. “I think in the past, a lot of operating systems became very monolithic and they just start in one place,” and the traffic would go somewhere else and get lost.

“Think about [FortiOS] as a network operating system that’s across a hybrid world,” Maddison said. “We’ll continue to see more devices attached, more users, more mobile, more applications moving, so the ability to put the security in different places will be very, very important going forward.”

FortiOS 7.6 for SASE and SD-WAN enhancement

Maddison noted Fortinet continues to add new SASE, SSE and SD-WAN features to support hybrid workforce and thin edge use cases.

For example, “a lot of these micro branches and homes have a very thin edge what we call a basic router or access point that you can’t put security on, so what we do is send that traffic from that thin edge right into our SASE pop [point of presence] and provide the security there like a SaaS [software as a service] service in effect,” he said.

FortiOS 7.6 also enabled more than 20 new SD-WAN capabilities to streamline operations and improve user experience, including the enhancements to Overlay Orchestration to simplify and automate connectivity across multiple clouds and improvements to its Underlay Bandwidth and Quality Monitoring Service to offer comprehensive link, path and application performance monitoring.

Fortinet rebrands genAI feature as FortiAI

The security vendor introduced its genAI integration last year called Fortinet Advisor, designed to bring natural language queries and improved operations to network security. Now, the vendor renamed the feature into FortiAI to align with its naming philosophy.

In addition, the FortiOS 7.6 integrates FortiAI with the vendor’s central data lake — FortiAnalyzer, and its management console — FortiManager, to assist with platform management, new product and feature deployment, network monitoring, accessing documentation and support assets, and facilitate faster decision-making and more effective incident remediation.

FortiAI also helps customers transition to public clouds and provides guidance on planning and deploying applications and services within specific cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Maddison said Fortinet is adding AI across the system with the core AI/ML capabilities, genAI, AIOps or monitoring large language model (LLM) for data leakage.

Fortinet Security Fabric enhancements

In addition to the introduction of FortiOS 7.6, Fortinet also announced several enhancements to its Security Fabric at the event.

It added endpoint detection and response (EDR) features to its Security Fabric’s unified agent — FortiClient. The agent now includes EDR, VPN, ZTNA, endpoint protection (endpoint protection platform (EPP)), DEM, network access control (NAC) and SASE to reduce agent sprawl and simplify management.

To address the security talent shortage, Fortinet also added options for out-of-the-box security information and event management (SIEM) and security orchestration, automation and response (security, orchestration, automation, response (SOAR)) services to its FortiAnalyzer, which allows the delivery of broader data ingestion and automated playbooks to streamline adoption and expand security operations (SecOps).

The vendor also launched a managed FortiGate service to support network operations teams, initially including assistance for firewall policies and SD-WAN setup, Maddison said.

“What we’re finding is that very much for smaller customers, [for] the analytics engine and the management engine, they kind of want some help like our SOC-as-a-service … the management service will help them do the management and configuration,” he added. “Customers [are] lacking some skills and resources in these certain areas, and so first to provide a managed capability there will help them.”