One of the best ways to protect IT infrastructure in this technology-reliant world is by using firewalls. Firewalls provide security from cyber vulnerabilities to both individuals and enterprises.
In a recent survey by Palo Alto, an American multinational cybersecurity company, 97% of respondents from corporations admitted that they used a firewall as their primary vulnerability protection tool. Palo Alto also stated in the survey that firewalls had been a staple in the network security sector for decades. This is because firewalls offer top-notch security to your business network and system by filtering out unwanted traffic.
For example, you could prevent non-business-issued devices from accessing the business’ network. By the end of the article, you will clearly understand the differences between software and hardware firewalls and know which is suitable for protecting you or your small business (SMB) from cyber threats.
Please check our cybersecurity report covering among other things the top trends shaping the global cybersecurity landscape.
For prices, please check our comprehensive guide on firewall prices including factors that influence the prices.
Now join us as we uncover the best enterprise firewalls.
Best enterprise firewalls
These firewalls have earned their place not through flashy promises, but through the steadfast application of cutting-edge technology and a proven track record of defending against the ever-shifting landscape of cyber threats.
As we guide you through this thoughtful selection, we have chosen each entry for its practical merits and real-world impact.
Top hardware firewalls for enterprises
As we mentioned above, hardware firewalls are typically dedicated to performing network protection duties. They are appliances that have to be installed physically in your network infrastructure.
Here are what we consider to be the top hardware-based firewalls for businesses. Please note that the numbering here does not reflect superiority.
1. The Cisco Meraki MX68 security appliance
It is a cloud-based hardware firewall that is ideal for small businesses looking to incorporate Unified Threat Management into their cloud network. It was developed by Meraki and was released in 2017.
The Cisco Meraki MX68 is a powerful cloud-based hardware firewall that offers comprehensive protection for small businesses looking to secure their cloud networks.
The device is designed to provide Unified Threat Management (UTM) features, including application control, intrusion prevention, content filtering, and advanced malware protection.
It is easy to set up and manage, making it an ideal solution for businesses that lack IT staff or have limited resources. With the MX68, small businesses can have peace of mind knowing that their network is secure and their sensitive data is protected.In addition to its security features, the Cisco Meraki MX68 offers a range of other benefits. The device is cloud-managed, which means that it can be easily configured and monitored remotely, eliminating the need for on-site IT staff.
The MX68 also provides excellent visibility and control over network traffic, enabling businesses to monitor and analyze traffic patterns and identify potential threats. It is also scalable, meaning that it can grow with the needs of the business, making it an excellent long-term investment.
Best suited for
If you are seeking a streamlined yet robust security solution, this is where the CISCO MERAKI MX68 excels. It performs optimally in environments where simplicity in deployment and management is paramount.
The cloud-centric approach makes it particularly well-suited for distributed organizations with multiple locations, offering a unified security infrastructure.
Whether you’re a growing enterprise expanding your network or an established business looking to enhance your cybersecurity posture, the MX68 caters to a spectrum of needs, making it a versatile choice across various industries.
What users like about CISCO MERAKI MX68
The CISCO MERAKI MX68 has garnered acclaim from users who laud its user-friendly design and seamless integration into diverse network architectures.
Businesses appreciate the simplified management afforded by its cloud-centric approach, reducing the complexities traditionally associated with firewall deployment.
What users don’t like about CISCO MERAKI MX68
Some users have expressed reservations about the CISCO MERAKI MX68, citing concerns such as its comparatively higher initial cost and ongoing licensing fees. Additionally, a dependency on cloud-based management has been a point of contention for those who prefer on-premises solutions or face challenges related to consistent internet connectivity.
Users seeking extensive customization options have noted that the firewall’s simplicity may come at the expense of more advanced configuration features.
Parent company: Cisco Systems, Inc
2. The WatchGuard Firebox T45
The WatchGuard Firebox T45 is a state-of-the-art hardware firewall that offers advanced security features to small businesses. It was released in 2020 by WatchGuard Technologies, a leading network security company that has been providing innovative security solutions to businesses of all sizes for over 20 years. According to WatchGuard, it is suitable for small businesses looking for enterprise-grade security.
The Firebox T45 is designed to provide enterprise-grade security to small businesses, making it an ideal choice for organizations that require top-level security features but have limited resources. It offers robust network protection against a variety of threats, including malware, ransomware, viruses, and other cyber attacks.
One of the key features of the Firebox T45 is its ability to inspect and filter incoming and outgoing traffic, ensuring that only authorized traffic is allowed into the network. The device uses advanced threat detection and prevention techniques, including intrusion prevention, URL filtering, and advanced malware protection, to protect against known and unknown threats.
The Firebox T45 also offers a range of other security features, including VPN capabilities, network segmentation, and multi-factor authentication. It is easy to set up and manage, thanks to the user-friendly management console and the intuitive interface.
Best suited for
The Firebox T45 is well-suited for mid-sized businesses and distributed enterprises requiring a powerful yet scalable network security solution.
Its versatile feature set makes it adaptable to a range of scenarios, from protecting remote offices to serving as a critical component in the cybersecurity infrastructure of growing organizations.
What users like about the WatchGuard Firebox T45
Users commend the WatchGuard Firebox T45 for its intuitive management interface and robust security features. The device’s scalability is often highlighted, accommodating the diverse needs of businesses as they expand.
The Total Security Suite, bundling multiple security services, appeals to users seeking a consolidated and effective approach to safeguarding their networks.
What users don’t like about the WatchGuard Firebox T45
Some users have mentioned that the initial setup and configuration of the Firebox T45 can be intricate, particularly for those without extensive experience in network security.
Additionally, while the device offers a comprehensive set of features, a minority of users may find the interface somewhat complex.
Parent company: WatchGuard Technologies, Inc.
3. Sonicwall Nsa 5650
Sonicwall Nsa 5650 is a hardware firewall developed by SonicWall Security Services and released in 2016. It is suitable for distributed networks and enterprises that have humongous information throughput.
Released in 2016, the NSA 5650 is built on SonicWall’s patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection (RFDPI) technology, which enables it to inspect and filter all network traffic in real-time, including encrypted traffic. The device uses advanced threat detection and prevention techniques, including intrusion prevention, gateway anti-virus, and anti-spyware, to protect against a wide range of threats, including malware, ransomware, viruses, and other cyber attacks.
One of the key features of the NSA 5650 is its scalability. The device can handle large volumes of traffic, making it suitable for organizations with high levels of information throughput. It is also designed to be highly reliable, with redundant power supplies, fans, and hard drives, as well as support for high availability and clustering.
The NSA 5650 also offers a range of other security features, including VPN capabilities, network segmentation, and multi-factor authentication. It is easy to set up and manage, thanks to the user-friendly management console and the intuitive interface.
Best suited for
The NSA 5650 is ideal for large enterprises and organizations with complex network architectures.
Its high-performance capabilities, coupled with advanced threat detection features, make it well-suited for securing expansive networks.
Whether safeguarding critical data, managing remote offices, or defending against sophisticated cyber attacks, the SonicWall NSA 5650 is designed to meet the diverse security needs of sizable enterprises.
What users like about SonicWall NSA 5650
Users appreciate the SonicWall NSA 5650 for its robust security posture and high-performance capabilities. The firewall’s ability to handle complex traffic scenarios while maintaining low latency is often highlighted.
The intuitive management interface contributes to a positive user experience, especially for IT professionals overseeing large-scale network deployments.
What users don’t like about SonicWall NSA 5650
While the SonicWall NSA 5650 is well-regarded for its capabilities, some users note that the initial setup and configuration may pose a challenge for those less familiar with advanced networking concepts.
The complexity of certain features might require a learning curve, particularly for organizations without dedicated IT security expertise.
Parent company: SonicWall
4. Protectli Vault
This is a hardware firewall developed by Protectli and released in 2015. It works with all Operating Systems and filters all malware-infected traffic from trusted networks.
The Protectli Vault was first released in 2015 and has since become a popular choice among small businesses, home users, and enthusiasts who require an affordable and reliable firewall solution.
One of the key features of the Protectli Vault is its compatibility with all operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. This makes it a versatile solution that can be used with any device that connects to the internet. The device can be easily set up and configured using a web-based interface, and it supports a range of network topologies, including LAN, WAN, and VPN.
The Protectli Vault also provides advanced security features, including malware protection and content filtering. The device is designed to filter all malware-infected traffic from trusted networks, ensuring that only safe traffic is allowed to pass through. It also includes content filtering capabilities that allow administrators to control access to websites and applications based on various criteria, such as category, URL, or user group.
In addition to its security features, the Protectli Vault is also designed to be highly reliable and efficient. It is built with high-quality components and features low power consumption, making it an ideal choice for energy-conscious organizations and individuals. The device also includes a range of connectivity options, including multiple Ethernet ports and USB ports, allowing for easy integration with other devices and network components.
Best suited for
Tailored for businesses of all sizes that prioritize the security of their digital assets, Protecti Vault proves especially beneficial for organizations handling sensitive data, such as:
- Financial institutions
- Healthcare providers
- Legal entities.
Its versatility makes it an ideal choice for any entity seeking a robust data security solution that aligns with modern compliance standards.
What users like about Protecti Vault
Users appreciate Protecti Vault for its simplicity and effectiveness in securing sensitive data. The straightforward implementation of encryption and access controls receives praise, as does the Vault’s intuitive design, which ensures a smooth user experience.
The secure file-sharing capabilities also contribute to positive user sentiments, offering a seamless yet protected means of collaboration within and outside the organization.
What users don’t like about Protecti Vault
While Protecti Vault garners acclaim for its security features, some users have expressed a desire for even more customization options in certain aspects of access control.
Organizations with less stringent security requirements may find the robustness of Protecti Vault’s features to be more than necessary, potentially leading to a perception of complexity.
Parent company: Protectli
5. Ubiquiti Security Gateway
This hardware firewall is designed to seamlessly integrate into Ubiquiti’s broader UniFi ecosystem, offering a unified approach to network management and security.
With a focus on simplicity and scalability, the USG positions itself as an accessible yet powerful solution for businesses seeking robust protection at the network perimeter.
The Ubiquiti Security Gateway distinguishes itself with features such as deep packet inspection, VPN server capability, and integration with the UniFi Controller. Its capability to scale with the needs of a growing network is facilitated by the UniFi ecosystem, allowing for centralized management and configuration.
Best suited for
The USG is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses looking for an affordable yet comprehensive network security solution. Its integration with UniFi makes it particularly attractive for organizations already invested in the UniFi ecosystem, seeking a cohesive approach to networking and security.
What users like about Ubiquiti Security Gateway
Users appreciate the Ubiquiti Security Gateway for its straightforward setup and integration capabilities within the UniFi ecosystem.
The user-friendly interface in particular, coupled with robust security features, resonates positively with those managing smaller to mid-sized networks. The USG’s scalability and ability to provide essential security functions without unnecessary complexity are often praised.
What users don’t like about Ubiquiti Security Gateway
Some users have noted that the USG may lack certain advanced features present in more specialized enterprise-grade firewalls.
Additionally, while suitable for many scenarios, larger enterprises with complex networking needs may find its capabilities limiting. User feedback also occasionally mentions a learning curve for those unfamiliar with the UniFi ecosystem, which may impact initial setup for some users.
Parent company: Ubiquiti Networks
Top software firewalls for enterprises
A software firewall is a program or application that runs on a general-purpose computing device, such as a computer or server.
The software is designed to monitor, filter, and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
Here are the best software firewalls for enterprises
Launched as an open-source project, pfSense has evolved into a powerful and flexible firewall and router platform.
With its roots deeply embedded in the principles of open-source development, pfSense provides a robust and customizable solution for organizations seeking a cost-effective yet powerful network security solution.
pfSense stands out with its array of unique features, including:
- A user-friendly web interface
- Extensive VPN support
- Traffic shaping capabilities
- Flexibility to run on commodity hardware.
Its modular design allows for the integration of additional packages, enhancing functionality based on specific organizational needs. This adaptability and the backing of a vibrant open-source community make pfSense a versatile and evolving firewall solution.
Best suited for
pfSense caters to small businesses, enterprises, and even home networks. Its versatility makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a customizable and feature-rich firewall solution.
Whether deployed in a home office to secure a remote worker’s network or implemented in a complex enterprise environment, pfSense adapts to the scale and complexity of diverse network architectures.
What users like about pfSense
Users appreciate pfSense for its robust security features, community-driven support, and the flexibility to run on standard hardware.
The user-friendly web interface simplifies configuration and management tasks, making it accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise.
The strong community backing ensures timely updates, security patches, and an extensive repository of user-contributed packages.
What users don’t like about pfSense
Some users may find that certain advanced features have a steeper learning curve, particularly for those new to firewall and networking concepts.
Additionally, organizations with a preference for commercial support may find the reliance on community support to be a consideration. However, the vibrant pfSense community often addresses these challenges through extensive documentation and user forums.
Parent company: Open-source firewall, started in 2004 by Chris Buechler and Scott Ullrich
7. Untangle NG firewall
Untangle NG Firewall has been at the forefront of reshaping network security, providing organizations with a comprehensive and user-friendly firewall solution.
Launched with a commitment to simplifying complex security challenges, Untangle NG Firewall delivers a range of integrated tools and applications designed to protect networks from evolving cyber threats. Its intuitive approach to security management has made it a preferred choice for businesses seeking robust protection without sacrificing usability.
- Application control
- Web filtering
- Intrusion prevention
- VPN connectivity.
The platform’s innovative Layer 7 application identification and control capabilities empower administrators to precisely manage network traffic, enhancing security and productivity.
The modular and app-based architecture allows users to customize their security stack based on specific needs.
Best suited for
Untangle NG Firewall is particularly well-suited for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking for a versatile and scalable security solution.
The ease of use and robust feature set make it an ideal choice for IT professionals tasked with securing networks in diverse environments, from retail and healthcare to education and manufacturing.
What users like about Untangle NG Firewall
Users appreciate Untangle NG Firewall for its intuitive interface, making security management accessible to administrators with varying levels of expertise.
The platform’s visual reporting tools provide valuable insights into network activity, and its application control features allow for granular control over internet usage.
What users don’t like about Untangle NG Firewall
Some users may find that certain advanced features require a learning curve. Additionally, the availability of certain advanced features may depend on the subscription plan chosen, which could be a consideration for organizations with specific security requirements.
Parent company: Untangle, Inc.
OPNsense, a formidable open-source firewall solution, has been a driving force in the firewall world since its inception.
Launched as a fork of pfSense, OPNsense has evolved into a standalone and community-driven project, committed to providing a robust, feature-rich, and highly secure firewall platform.
OPNsense distinguishes itself with a modular plugin system, strong support for multi-WAN configurations, and advanced intrusion detection and prevention capabilities.
The platform’s intuitive web interface facilitates easy configuration, while its underlying FreeBSD foundation ensures stability and reliability.
OPNsense’s commitment to open-source principles allows users to inspect, modify, and enhance the code to suit their specific security needs.
Best suited for
OPNsense is well-suited for small businesses, enterprises, and even home users seeking a powerful and customizable firewall solution. Its flexibility makes it adaptable to a variety of network environments, from basic home networks to complex enterprise architectures.
OPNsense is an ideal choice if you value transparency, community collaboration, and the ability to shape your security infrastructure.
What users like about OPNsense
Users commend OPNsense for its transparent and open development process, which fosters community engagement and collaboration.
The modular plugin system allows users to extend functionality, and the platform’s active community contributes to an extensive repository of plugins and user-driven enhancements.
OPNsense’s regular updates, robust security features, and a user-friendly interface contribute to positive user experiences.
What users don’t like about OPNsense
While OPNsense is highly regarded, users may find that certain advanced features require a deeper understanding of networking concepts.
The learning curve could be steeper for those new to firewall administration. Additionally, users seeking commercial support may find the reliance on community-driven assistance to be a consideration.
However, OPNsense actively addresses user feedback, and the community often provides comprehensive support through forums and documentation.
Parent company: Open-source project, maintained and overseen by Netherland-based hardware maker Deciso
Bonus: personal firewall software
Personal firewall software is designed to provide security for individual devices, such as personal computers and smartphones.
This software is particularly suitable for home users seeking to enhance the security of their internet-connected devices.
Small enterprises can use these types of firewalls to cater to their staff members at individual level.
Here are two such firewalls
lassWire provides real-time insights into network traffic, applications, and potential threats. This security tool not only protects against cyber threats but also empowers users to make informed decisions about their network usage.
GlassWire‘s unique features include its visually appealing user interface, real-time network monitoring, and the ability to graphically track data usage. The application firewall allows users to monitor and control which applications are permitted to access the internet.
The “Graph” feature provides a visual timeline of network activity, making it easy for users to identify spikes or unusual patterns that may indicate malicious activity.
Best suited for
GlassWire is well-suited for individual users, small businesses, and professionals who prioritize a clear understanding of their network activity.
It’s especially beneficial for those who want to visually track data usage, identify potential security threats, and have control over which applications can connect to the internet
What users like about GlassWire
Users appreciate GlassWire’s visually appealing and easy-to-understand interface, allowing them to grasp their network activity at a glance.
The real-time alerts for suspicious activities and the ability to block or allow applications add a layer of control to network security.
GlassWire’s compatibility with both Windows and Android platforms further contributes to its positive reception among users.
What users don’t like about GlassWire
While GlassWire is praised for its visual appeal, some users may find the advanced features more accessible to tech-savvy individuals. The free version has limitations, and some advanced functionalities are available only in the paid versions, which might be a consideration if you are seeking a comprehensive feature set.
Parent company: GlassWire, Inc.
10. Avast One
Avast One stands as a comprehensive cybersecurity solution, embodying the legacy of Avast’s commitment to safeguarding users in the digital landscape.
Launched as an all-in-one platform, Avast One integrates advanced antivirus, anti-malware, VPN, and other security features to provide users with a robust defense against a myriad of online threats. With a user-centric approach, Avast One aims to deliver a seamless and secure online experience.
- Powerful antivirus and anti-malware engines
- Secure VPN for private browsing
- Robust firewall for enhanced network protection.
The platform’s real-time threat detection, Wi-Fi security analysis, and advanced ransomware protection contribute to a comprehensive defense strategy.
Best suited for
Avast One is well-suited for a broad user base, spanning individual consumers to businesses of varying sizes. Its versatility makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a unified cybersecurity solution that covers multiple aspects of online protection.
Avast One is particularly beneficial for users who value a hassle-free experience without compromising on the depth of security features.
What users like about Avast One
Users appreciate Avast One for its user-friendly interface, seamless integration of security features, and the overall ease of use.
The platform’s real-time threat detection and automatic updates contribute to a sense of continuous protection.
The inclusion of a secure VPN and a robust firewall enhances the overall security posture, and the platform’s compatibility with multiple devices adds to its appeal.
What users don’t like about Avast One
Advanced features are only available in premium versions. Occasionally, users may express concerns about system resource usage, particularly on older devices.
Parent company: Avast Software s.r.o
Deciding between hardware and software firewall
A hardware firewall is advisable for large networks, offering centralized protection at the perimeter, scalability, and advanced features. It is suitable for organizations with complex infrastructures.
On the other hand, a software firewall is recommended for individual device protection, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, making it suitable for smaller enterprises or scenarios where different devices have unique security requirements.
Often, a combination of both hardware and software firewalls in a layered security approach provides comprehensive protection against diverse cyber threats. In this implementation strategy, the hardware firewall safeguards the network perimeter and software firewalls secures individual devices.
In Palo Alto’s survey of firewalls in modern enterprises, 38% of respondents said that their companies were moving from hardware to cloud-based firewalls as opposed to 36% who preferred retaining their traditional hardware components. Software firewalls are portable and are not as costly as hardware firewalls. They are always up-to-date and scalable. That is why a majority of enterprises will want to move from hardware to software-based firewalls.
The key takeaway is the empowerment these firewalls provide. From advanced threat detection to user-friendly interfaces, these solutions are not just defenders but enablers, offering your enterprise the confidence to navigate the digital landscape securely.
In the end, the “best” enterprise firewall is one that aligns seamlessly with your organization’s unique requirements. It’s about more than features; it’s about finding a cybersecurity partner that complements your goals and grows with your business.
As you embark on fortifying your network defense, may the insights shared in this exploration guide you toward a resilient and adaptive security strategy.