Keep the bad guys out: Top firewalls for enterprises and SMBs

Security is a major concern for businesses both large and small. Designing, developing, and implementing a security strategy is crucial and must be duly prioritized in every industry. But even as cybersecurity defenses are ramped up, attackers across the globe are also advancing and are coming up with more disruptive cyberattacks than ever before. To fortify the organizations against these cyberattacks, firewalls play an essential role in serving as the first line of defense. When configured properly, a firewall is the sole means for the data to flow in and out of an enterprise network. Firewalls are the security mechanisms that prevent cybercriminals from breaching an enterprise or network or to compromise the corporate assets.

web application security firewalls

Every computer, every network, and every company irrespective of its size needs a secure and well-configured firewall as its primary defense mechanism. But not every firewall is created equal. Firewall protection now comes in various options with differences in features, customization, usage, usability, costs, and other aspects. With the increasingly large number of firewalls available, choosing the right product can be a challenge.

Here are some of the most secure firewalls that are excellent choices for large-scale enterprises as well as small businesses.


Fortinet offers both unified threat management firewall systems (UTM) as well as the next generation firewalls (NGFW). While the former has been in the picture for many years providing enterprise-grade firewall security, the later, NGFW, is newly emerging. NGFWs are usually tightly integrated firewall functionality that also offers several other features such as virtual private networks (VPNs), intrusion detection systems, robust application handling, support, and more. All these features, which were offered separately by various security products, are now offered under NGFW. Fortinet offers both UTM as well as next-generation firewalls.

The company provides network security to both enterprises and small businesses, which can choose from a range of customizable options while choosing a firewall service. The company offers network security through next-generation firewalls or through the FortiOS, which comes with several features such as custom security processors (SPU), security subscriptions, threat intelligence, configuration management, and reports and analysis.

FortiGate is a well-known business-level firewall provider that originates from Fortinet’s security platform. FortiGate serves as a single solution for various security-related aspects a company requires such as a strong firewall, VPNs, IPS, anti-malware, anti-spam, web-filtering, wireless control access, and more. FortiGate is available in the appliance, virtual machine, and cloud mode.

Small businesses, which do not really need dedicated hardware for its security, can opt for either the virtual machine or cloud mode of deployment, which can be a cost-effective option. Larger companies can opt for an appliance, which provides them with dedicated hardware to secure the enterprise network.

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall


Barracuda is an enterprise-level security provider that has launched various successful security products in the past. The company’s CloudGen firewalls are yet another powerful firewall solution that ensures uninterrupted network availability as well as robust and secure access to cloud-hosted applications and services.

The service is ideal for companies of all shapes and sizes such as multisite enterprises, managed service providers, small businesses, branch offices, and organizations with complex network infrastructure.

Barracuda CloudGen firewall can be deployed physically, virtually, or in the cloud. The deployment options include appliance, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, managed service providers and more. Below are some of the major security features it offers.

  • Botnet and spyware protection
  • Advanced threat protection
  • SSL interception
  • DoS and DDoS
  • Malware protection
  • Single Pass architecture
  • Intrusion detection and prevention
  • Adaptive connectivity options
  • Remote access

Barracuda also provides reliable customer service on top of the numerous security features. Reasonable pricing, customization, and an informative and easy-to-use intuitive dashboard make it one of the top firewall services in the market.

Sophos UTM

There are several firewalls available that serve the purpose of providing a powerful defense for the enterprises. Sophos is a powerful unified threat management firewall and security system that offers total network security. This service is ideal for small businesses and offers almost everything a small business might want for its network security.

Sophos UTM comes with deep learning-powered protection to detect threats and malware. The service has an easy-to-use and implement UI and is very effective in blocking evasive threats. Sophos offers cost-effective, highly customizable cloud-based protection.

Sophos offers network protection to stop most of today’s sophisticated attacks while securing network access. It allows easy blacklisting and whitelisting of network traffic for the companies. Some other features of Sophos UTM are wireless protection, web protection, email protection, and web server protection. Sophos also comes with its proprietary Sandstorm sandboxing technique, which allows better-targeted attack protection along with better visibility and analysis.


pfSense is an open-source security service provider that can support companies irrespective of their size, domain, and areas of operations. It’s a fully featured firewall build on FreeBSD and provides security using the company’s proprietary and powerful pf packet filter. The UI, however, is not on the simpler side compared to other firewall services, but it does offer many options and features under the hood.

pfSense is free to use and users need to pay only for the support. It comes with a wide range of support and compatibility with IPSec, PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. The firewall can also handle multi-WAN configuration and offers load balancing, DHCP services, and captive portal.

pfSense also comes with an extensive dashboard with very easy to understand traffic graphs which allows the users to visualize real-time metrics.

It offers QoS, extremely detailed performance data collection and graphing, load balancing, captive portal, DHCP services, and all kinds of other capabilities.

Firewalls: Consider all the aspects

Before you choose any of these or other firewalls for your company, there are certain aspects that need to be considered. Although all these firewalls listed above are among the best available first-line of defense, one should still consider subjective aspects for their situation before deciding. For example:

  • What are the operational costs after deploying?
  • Is it meeting your requirements?
  • Can it be customized as per your requirements?
  • How easy and cost-effective is its managing?
  • Does this fit well with your company’s holistic security system?

As with every other IT service, although the essential purpose of a firewall is to protect your network again intruders, every product differs in terms of the cost, approach, performance, size, security concerns, features, and other technical implementations. Building a firewall internally with custom-made features can prove out to be rather expensive and unproductive in most cases. Therefore, choosing the right firewall service provider is crucial.

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