menu

Best 8 Firewalls in 2021

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

February 4, 2021

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

When it comes to security, a multi-layered approach is the only option. No matter whether you are protecting your business or personal computer, you need to use a number of strategies to protect your data and online activity. Installing a VPN, such as NordVPN, is a wise place to start. Aside from this, I highly recommend that you use a secure and reputable firewall. 

The only trouble is that it can be difficult to know where to begin if you do not have any tech experience. There are many firewalls on the market today, but which of them are going to provide ample protection?

To give you a helping hand, I have tested a huge number of firewalls so that I can bring you the best options in the industry today. Read my thoughts on my favourite options below.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

recommended

Best Firewall For Complete Protection

SOPHOS

Best Firewall For Intuitive Dashboard

also great

Best Firewall For Scalability

Best Firewall For Ease-Of-Use

Best Firewall For Data Analysis

What is a firewall?

There is only one place to begin, and this is by explaining what a firewall is. A firewall is a network security device that will monitor all of your outgoing and incoming network traffic, either blocking or permitting data packets based on a number of different security rules. The aim of installing a firewall is so that a barrier between your internal network and incoming traffic from exterior sources is established. This will ensure that hackers, viruses, and any other form of malicious traffic are blocked. 

How does a firewall work?

A firewall will meticulously analyse any incoming traffic based on rules that have been pre-established. Traffic will then be filtered if it has come from a suspicious or unsecured source, ensuring attacks are prevented.

Firewalls guard traffic at the entry point of your computer, which is known as a port. This is where there is an exchange of information with external devices.

The best way to describe this is by thinking of IP addresses as houses. By this metaphor, port numbers will then be the rooms within the property. You are only going to allow people that you trust to enter the house, right? The access can then be filtered to ensure that people within the house can only get access to certain rooms. For instance, the owner will be able to access all rooms, i.e. any port. However, guests or children may only be allowed to enter specific rooms that fulfil a certain number of rules. This is basically how a firewall works.

What are the different types of firewalls that are available?

Not all firewalls are the same. There are many different options available today, and it is vital to understand the differences between them before you make your choice regarding the best one for you.

Firewalls can either be hardware or software, yet I would recommend that you have both in place. A physical firewall is a piece of equipment that is installed between your gateway and your network. A software firewall is a program that is installed onto every device you have, regulating traffic through applications and port numbers.

Types of firewalls

So, what sort of firewalls can you choose from today?

  • Packet-filtering firewalls – This is the most popular type of firewall used today. It works by examining packets and prohibiting them from passing through if they do not match the security rule set that you have established. The destination IP addresses and packet’s source are checked. If they matched the “allowed” firewall rule, they will be able to enter the network. 
  • Stateful packet-filtering firewalls – Once you have decided a packet-filtering firewall is for you, you then have to decide whether to go for a stateful or stateless firewall. The former is one that will remember details about packets that have previously passed. This is considered the much more secure option of the two.
  • Stateless packet-filtering firewalls – A stateless firewall will independently assess the packets of one another. This makes them an easier target for hackers because they do not have any context.
  • Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) – While packet-filtering firewalls can be successful, I should point out that they are basic. There are much more comprehensive options out there, and a next-generation firewall is a prime example of this. These firewalls combine the conventional firewall technology with added features, for example, anti-virus, intrusion prevention systems, and encrypted traffic inspection. One of the main features that it has is deep packet inspection, which is often shortened to DPI. If you use a basic firewall, only packet headers will be examined. However, with deep packet inspection, the data within the packet is examined, allowing you to more effectively identify, stop, or categorise packets that contain malicious data.
  • Proxy firewalls – Another option to consider is a proxy firewall. This is a firewall that will filter network traffic at the application level. As opposed to the basic firewalls, a proxy firewall will act as an intermediary between two end systems. A request needs to be sent from the client to the firewall, where the request will then be assessed against a security rule set, and it is then blocked or permitted. Most notably, these firewalls will monitor traffic for FTP, HTTP, and other layer 7 protocols, using both deep packet and stateful inspection so malicious traffic can be detected. 
  • Stateful multi-layer inspection firewalls (SMLI)  – This type of firewall will filter packets at the application, transport, and network layers, and they are compared against packets that are known to be trusted. Similar to NGFW firewalls, these firewalls will also assess the full packet, only allowing them to pass if each individual layer is passed. These firewalls assess packets to figure out the state of communication to make sure that all of the initiated communication will only occur with trusted sources.
  • Network address translation (NAT) firewalls – These firewalls enable numerous devices with independent network addresses to be connected to the web utilising a single IP address, ensuring individual IP addresses are hidden. As a consequence, attackers scanning a network for IP addresses are not able to capture any specific details, ensuring you have more security against a breach. NAT firewalls are very much like proxy firewalls in the sense that they operate as an intermediary between outside traffic and a group of computers. 

Check Point Next Generation Firewall Pros:

Check Point Next Generation Firewall Cons:

#1 | Check Point Next Generation Firewall

Check Point Next Generation Firewall is a product from Check Point Software Technologies, which is a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader (there are two others). The company provides a security architecture designed to protect the full scope of devices, enterprise networks, and the cloud. Founded in 1993, Check Point Software Technologies protects over 100,000 organisations of different sizes.

checkpoint firewall

It was only right that I included the company’s Next Generation Firewall at the top of the list, as it is one of the most powerful firewalls on the market today. The firewall centers on blocking application-layer attacks and malware.

The company offers over 60 security services for ultimate protection. ThreatCloud is used to power these security offerings, and it is considered the most effective shared intelligence cloud service in the world. This means that the Quantum security gateway is able to react in a seamless and quick manner so that unknown and known cyber attacks are stopped across the full network. 

The statistics make great reading when it comes to Check Point Next Generation Firewall:

  • 0% false positives
  • 100% exploit resistance
  • 100% malware prevention, web and email
  • 100% block rate
  • 98.4% overall security effectiveness

How much does Check Point Next Generation Firewall cost?

You will need to contact sales for a price for this service, as a custom quote is provided. However, one of the great things about Check Point Next Generation Firewall is that you can trial the demo version, enabling you to get a feel for what the product is like before you commit to purchasing.

Does Check Point Next Generation Firewall sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Sophos XG Firewall Pros:

Sophos XG Firewall Cons:

#2 | Sophos XG Firewall

Another firewall that I highly recommend is Sophos XG Firewall. The company, Sophos, was established back in 1985, so they have a great standing in the industry, addressing mobile, email, web, encryption, network, and endpoint security. The company boasts over 100 million users across 150 countries. It is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Sophos XG Firewall is a next-generation firewall, yet you will also get web server protection, email protection, sandboxing protection, application control, and web protection. The dashboard comes with reporting capabilities and exposes any hidden risks, from suspicious payloads to risky users.

If there is an incident on the network, the firewall will respond. The security heartbeat is unique, integrating EP health into rules so that infected systems are isolated automatically. This heartbeat shares information continually and identifies any active threats. I simply had to click through to the ATP widget for details like the filename and threatpath. When a threat is detected, the firewall acts in accordance with the dynamic firewall rules. 

How much does Sophos XG Firewall cost?

Again, you will need to contact sales for a price for this service, as a custom quote is provided and depends on factors such as the level of support required. However, you can make the most of a free trial, so you can determine whether or not this is the right firewall for you without committing any of your cash. 

Does Sophos XG Firewall sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

SonicWall Firewall Pros:

SonicWall Firewall Cons:

#3 | SonicWall Firewall

If the two suggestions mentioned so far aren’t suitable, try SonicWall. This next-generation firewall protects more than one-million networks around the world for over 500,000 organisations across 150+ countries. With roughly 30 years of experience, this is a business you can rely on. Although it was purchased by Dell during this time, it has since gone independent again.

SonicWall Network Security Appliance features a series of next-generation firewalls. You can integrate dynamic and unautomated security capabilities into one platform. This combines a multi-core architecture, which I found to be massively scalable, with the patented, SonicWALL Reassembly Free Deep Packet Inspection (RFDPI) firewall engine.

The company’s intrusion prevention system (IPS) is designed to block threats of a sophisticated nature. It features network-based malware protection, SSL inspection and decryption, and advanced anti-evasion capabilities, all of which leverage the power of the cloud.

I found the set-up to be straightforward enough with this firewall. The set-up wizards give you all of the information you need and the interface is powerful. Simply connect the LAN and WAN interfaces to the Internet and then your computer. After this, power the firewall. Next, head to https://192.168.168.168 in your browser, and from here, the Startup Guide for SonicWall will commence.

How much does SonicWall Firewall cost?

You can view the SonicWall price list here. There is also a live demo available. Watching the live demo can give you a great insight into what to expect from the product, so I definitely recommend checking that out.

Does SonicWall Firewall sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

GlassWire Firewall Pros:

GlassWire Firewall Cons:

#4 | GlassWire Firewall

I like the simplicity of GlassWire and the transparency with the pricing too. It provides efficient protection in terms of blocking malicious attacks, giving you the ability to deny or approve a network connection.

You will be able to monitor the connections made by a device at any given time. Network traffic, apps used, and IP addresses can be revealed. You can also remove users, as well as stopping all connectivity fully. I was also alerted when a nearby network has the same name as mine.

In terms of ease-of-use, a found GlassWire to be great in this department. I did not need to open the full application to check the network. Plus, you can make numerous profiles for work and home.

How much does GlassWire Firewall cost?

There are three different packages for you to choose from when it comes to the GlassWire Firewall. These are as follows:

  • Basic – This is for one PC, costing $29. 
  • Pro – This is for three PCs, costing $50. 
  • Elite  – This is for 10 PCs, costing $75. 

Aside from the number of PCs that can be connected, there are some other differences between these packages. The Basic offers one-month history, the Pro provides six-month history, and the Elite package provides unlimited history.

In terms of remote connections, you will get three with the Basic plan, 10 with the Pro Plan, and unlimited connections with the Elite plan. 

Does GlassWire Firewall sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Pros:

Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Cons:

#5 | Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Virtual (NGFWv)

I am sure that you have heard of Cisco, as it is one of the biggest networking infrastructure vendors in the world. Based in California’s San Jose area, Cisco offers a broad storage, server, and security portfolio. 

The security of this firewall is certainly very high, but it isn’t the best. In terms of attacks blocked, the figures come in at 95.7%. Of 190 evasion techniques, it was ineffective against three. The advanced threat protection across endpoints and networks is certainly a strong point. 

Implementing the firewall was not too difficult, although if you’re a beginner, you may find it a little bit complex in some areas. Once the system is up and running, though, I doubt you will find too much to grumble about on the ease-of-use front. You will need to spend a bit of time getting familiar with the product, though, so you can fully understand the processes and get the features functioning as you need them.

Finally, support is where Cisco really shines in my opinion!

How much does Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Virtual cost?

You will need to get in touch with Cisco to get a bespoke price based on your needs. However, all reports state that Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Virtual is one of the more expensive products on the market, so do keep that in mind. 

Does Cisco sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Juniper Firewall Pros:

Juniper Firewall Cons:

#6 | Juniper Firewall

Founded back in 1996, Juniper Networks is the company behind the Juniper Firewall. They are also based in California, in the Sunnyvale area, and they have 92 offices in 43 countries around the world, employing almost 10,000 people.

With Juniper, whenever a new threat emerges, the Juniper Networks SRX Series Services Gateways will adapt. It does this by utilising information from third-party GeoIP feeds and Juniper Sky Advanced Threat Prevention cloud-based service, blocking malicious activities when they traverse or enter the network. 

I would say that the Juniper Firewall is one of the best in terms of implementation. The process was incredibly straightforward, so you should not have any sort of trouble in this department.

How much does Juniper Firewall cost?

There are different firewalls and security packages available at Juniper, so you will need to request a quote from the company. 

Does Juniper Firewall sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Comodo Firewall Pros:

Comodo Firewall Cons:

#7 | Comodo Firewall

If you are looking for a free firewall, Comodo is worth considering. You may think there is no point in looking for a free firewall when most operating systems have one built-in, yet Comodo does more than the basics.

Aside from ensuring your computer is protected against attacks and controlling how your Internet connection is used by different programs, it also comes with a Host Intrusion Protection System, sandbox-style virtualisation, and a secure browser.

You can upgrade to the firewall and antivirus package, which is paid.

How much does Comodo Firewall cost?

There are two options when using Comodo. The first is the free firewall. Personally, I rarely recommend using free products when it comes to security, as they are very limited, and you need full protection. There is a paid plan. This gives you the full antivirus and firewall, which costs $29.99 per year for one PC or $39.99 per year for three PCs.

Does Comodo Firewall right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall Pros:

Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall Cons:

#8 | Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall

Firewalls have changed considerably over the years, and Palo Alto Networks has certainly made waves in the industry because they have redefined the way the firewall does its business! This is something I certainly admire. The company had taken a look at the way firewalls are typically deployed, i.e. with numerous getaway devices behind them, performing various types of protection, and they asked why this approach was not able to do the things that multiple getaway devices were doing.

Palo Alto Networks have identified approximately 900 applications, which are managed directly. As a consequence, the firewall is like an application gateway, yet one that understands many applications and operates at a very fast pace.

There are five key characteristics that the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall has:

  • It focuses on applications, rather than protocols and ports 
  • It is policy-based, yet the policy addresses who is able to use an application, rather than the IP
  • The firewall scans content to make certain it is safe and being used properly, as well as ensuring there is no unwanted data extrusion 
  • It provides control tools and granular visibility
  • Fast performance is also delivered

How much does Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall cost?

The cost of Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall differs based on your requirements, so the best thing to do is get in touch with the company for a tailored quote. There is a demo available as well, so you can see the product in action. 

Does Palo Alto Networks sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

you may also like...