FWaaS (Firewall as a Service) Providers: Which Are the Best Ones for Your Organization?

Picture of a person typing on a laptop with a superimposed graphic of a network of padlocks.
Security is needed in a connected world.

Implementing a firewall as a service (FWaaS) is becoming the norm for many businesses and the market is growing rapidly. To understand its popularity, we need to understand how companies have changed. Previously, companies used firewalls to protect individual computers on a network. This worked well for years as data and communications were mostly internal. Now though, traditional firewalls are becoming obsolete. They’re even posing some security risks!

Today, companies are leveraging cloud and hybrid cloud network solutions, making this type of protection problematic. To clarify, one of the biggest issues is when a user accesses cloud content from a computer not provisioned by their company. This can pose several security risks. Some companies may control this through internal procedural policies, while others may need the flexibility to enable users to do this.  

A good solution to implement is a FWaaS. It offers a practical solution for businesses that need to work flexibly across devices.

In this article, I’ll talk about what a FWaaS is. I’ll also provide you with some of the top solutions on the market today. First, let’s look at what a FWaaS is and how it works!  

What Is a FWaaS?

A FWaaS is a firewall solution delivered as a cloud-based service that provides organizations with a simplified infrastructure. It provides next-generation firewall (NGFW) capabilities such as web filtering, advanced threat protection, and more.

In addition to these features, a FWaaS ensures that your organization only pays for what it uses. This is a huge benefit for companies that use connected devices periodically. It also ensures that all exploit lists are current without the need to update versions on each device manually. This means that a company gets better security for less active maintenance by administrators. 

So why do companies need a FWaaS? Let’s answer this in the next section.

Why Do Companies Need FWaaS?

Companies only care about getting protection at a sensible price point. A company purchasing a firewall solution isn’t interested in micromanaging licenses and/or pre-empting fixed or floating license usage. 

Often, companies will juggle licenses between users to accommodate demand and reduce paying excessively for unused licenses. Traditional firewall licenses mean that you’re paying through the nose to protect every single device, when users may only use many devices intermittently. 

For example, imagine you own a testing device that needs a laptop to record data and relay it to the cloud. If you only use this device once a year, then you’re not going to be happy to pay for a license to secure it. Using a FWaaS is a solution to this issue!

Now, let’s dive into the key features of a FWaaS solution.

Key Features Found in a FWaaS Solution

FWaaS providers have different offerings at different price points. Since you’re dealing with security, you’ll need to figure out which FWaaS vendor you should trust to provide you with the best solution. For instance, a vendor may have a total solution, but if they’re not updating their malware lists, then zero-day exploits could be a major problem. Below are 6 key factors that you’ll have to consider when making your choice. 

1. Web-Filtering

Most FWaaS solutions provide web-filtering capabilities. These can help block suspicious websites or limit the bandwidth given to a website. For instance, your business may need to use YouTube content to search for business solutions, but the quality of the video stream doesn’t need to be high. Consequently, this can help other users on your network be more productive when using other utilities. Additionally, businesses can reduce the amount of bandwidth they need; this can help save money if the solution is part of a paid service.  

2. Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

A FWaaS can also offer you predictive ATP to help track down suspicious network activity and notify administrators. It achieves this by learning the normal state of the organization’s network. After that, the solution creates flagging rules based on any deviations from the baseline state.

3. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

Traditionally, IPS systems are devices or nodes in a network that assess network traffic and packets. They’re useful in large organizations to ensure the information in one silo isn’t passed to another. As a result, this helps contain intellectual property (IP), stop data leakage, and keep cyber attackers out.

4. Domain Name System (DNS)

DNS control is important for your organization, as it ensures that you can resolve either static or dynamic IP addresses. Having the ability to secure and manage this centrally through a FWaaS helps boost application performance and user experience.

5. Simplified Scalability

In short, FWaaS scaling is simple. You just pick a different package offering from your vendor to meet your needs. Most, if not all, vendors will have clear service offerings and easy measures that you can change when needed. FWaaS solutions also use offsite infrastructure to conduct tasks like packet scanning. As such, your provider should have enough resources to cater to your business’s scaling needs with no lead time required.   

6. Enhanced Reliability

When it comes to security, any enterprise solution must have 100% service uptime. For firewalls, you must maintain and consistently update your malware and zero-day exploit lists. In a FWaaS specifically, the vendor controls and updates everything. You no longer have to remember to routinely search for updates. You should consider this point greatly when choosing between a traditional firewall and a FWaaS.

Now you know what features to look for when choosing a FWaaS. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the top FWaaS providers in the market today!

Top FWaaS Providers

When choosing a FWaaS, it’s very important to consider the vendor and their offering. We can help you with your decision-making, don’t worry! Here are the top 4 FWaaS solution providers!

1. KerioControl

Screenshot of the Bandwidth Management and QoS screen. In the center is a list of traffic types with information and control options.
KerioControl has a lot of functionality including a bandwidth management utility.

Price: $34 to $37 per user per year

Features:

  • High availability
  • Flexible deployment
  • Next-generation firewall capabilities
  • VPN functionality
  • Usage reporting
  • Enterprise service quality
  • Industry-leading web, content, and application filtering
  • Intrusion prevention system
  • Centralized administration with MyKerio

KerioControl has a unified solution for enterprise security at a great price. You can also decide to implement KerioControl as a software, virtualized solution, or on hardware. This enables you to create secure siloed teams and divisions. In turn, companies can leverage this to protect their intellectual property or meet defense security standards. 

2. Perimeter 81

Screenshot of the Perimeter 81 FWaaS interface.
Perimeter 81 FWaaS interface is designed to be easy to use.

Price: From $8 per month

Features:

  • Secure web gateway (SWG) web filtering
  • Zero trust application access
  • Perimeter 81 for financial and healthcare services
  • One portal for all network security
  • Network traffic control 
  • DNS filtering
  • Device posture check

Perimeter 81 offers you some unique features such as being able to use the software for financial and healthcare security requirements. Thus, this makes it an excellent choice for companies in these sectors to ensure they’re meeting security compliance laws. In addition to this, it also has SWG web filtering and device posture checking that’s useful for multi-site businesses. SWG web filtering gives you the ability to filter the type and source of data received at a gateway. Therefore, this can help control what your users can see or do online. In turn, this can stop effective usage of bandwidth across your organization.

3. CrowdStrike Falcon Firewall Management 

Screenshot of the Falcon Firewall Management screen where rules, policy and logs are visible from.
Falcon Firewall Management has an easy to use interface.

Price: From $8.99 per endpoint per month

Features:

  • Next-generation anti virus
  • Threat intelligence
  • USB device control
  • Host firewall control
  • Endpoint detection and response
  • Threat hunting
  • IT hygiene
  • Integrated identity security
  • Incident response and proactive services

Crowdstrike’s Falcon Firewall has some useful and robust solutions in enterprise security, but it does lack a lot of features you’d expect to find in a modern FWaaS solution. The missing features are mostly used by large organizations, so it’s probably best to use this solution if you’re an SMB owner. Features that are good to have include an integrated VPN with router support, DNS protection, SWG filtering, and multi-site support. That said, in the current tech climate, compromising on security may not be the best idea. This is especially true when choosing a FWaaS. The other thing you need to think about is business growth, and if you can scale your security adequately to meet your business needs.

4. Zscaler Cloud Firewall

Screenshot of the Zscaler Cloud Firewall bridging cloud and private organizational networks.
The Zscaler Cloud Firewall is a software-only solution that can be configured in a variety of ways.

Price: Available on request

Features:

Zscaler offers a lot of functionality you’d expect from an enterprise-level FWaaS. For instance, some features of interest include URL filtering, which gives you additional security control. Τhis feature also complements SWG filtering. The NSS and in-line malware prevention features are also interesting. Τhe vendor will need to check if they have enough resources to ensure your data speeds aren’t reduced.  

And there you have it! Those are the top 4 FWaaS solution providers. You now have everything you need to find the perfect FWaaS for your organization. Let’s recap.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, you can see that you have many features to look out for when assessing potential FWaaS solutions. When looking at the existing FWaaS market, you can also see that not many providers offer a one-stop shop for a scalable and easy-to-manage solution. As a result, consider each option carefully before zoning in on one. 

Out of all the FWaaS providers I’ve discussed, KerioControl is the closest one to a complete solution. Perimeter 81 is a close second.

No matter what solution you go for, ensure it has all the tools your business needs. If it has a centralized management system, you can leverage this to access the FWaaS from anywhere. All in all, choose one that satisfies your business needs. And feel free to refer back to this article if you need further clarification before making a purchase.

Do you have more questions about FWaaS? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

What is a FWaaS?

A firewall as a service is a security solution designed to protect businesses that have a cloud or hybrid-cloud infrastructure. A FWaaS is often deployed between your local network and your cloud software and storage. Accordingly, this helps your business work flexibly and connect through remote computers without worrying about malware or data leaks.  

Do I need bandwidth management as part of my FWaaS solution?

Firewall as a service solutions often contain bandwidth management tools to ensure your network has no bottlenecks. This is important if the FWaaS utilizes a percentage of your bandwidth. To this end, ideally yes, you do need bandwidth management to ensure your FWaaS or other traffic isn’t affecting your network.

Do I need transaction logging as part of my FWaaS?

A firewall as a service can log the traffic on your system. This can be useful for finding a network issue. That said, all servers, and likely all routers, you use will have this capability. When using or considering logging, be mindful of how these impact performance and storage space. 

Should I choose a software-only FWaaS? 

You can get a software-only firewall as a service solution, a virtual alternative, or a hardware-based solution. For most FWaaS solutions, it doesn’t matter which one you use. However, if you want to physically separate your team or division silos, then a hardware solution is useful. Otherwise, a software-only FWaaS solution is fine.

Why are businesses moving towards using FWaaS solutions?

Having a firewall as a service ensures your traditional private network and cloud solutions are both protected. In essence, a FWaaS acts as a security bridge between both network types along with providing a credible security solution in multi-site organizations. Overall, FWaaS solutions offer you the ability to control firewall and security-related activities from a centralized administrative interface that you can use anywhere.

Resources

TechGenix: Article on Next-Generation Firewalls

Find out everything you need to know about next-gen firewalls.

TechGenix: Article on Intrusion Detection Systems

Learn more about intrusion detection systems.

TechGenix: Article on the 8 Firewall Types

Discover the 8 types of firewalls that exist and how they can help you.

TechGenix: Article on Firewall Vendor Strategies

Consider if a single or multi-vendor firewall strategy is good for your business.

TechGenix: Article on the Best Firewalls for SMBs

Read up on the best firewall solutions for small-medium-sized businesses.

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