Network firewall software is integral for preventing unauthorized access to a private network. A firewall decides whether a connection is permitted or blocked. The number one goal of a firewall is to block malicious traffic from entering the network.

No time to read the whole post? Here is our list of the seven best network firewall software: 

  1. SolarWinds Security Event Manager (FREE TRIAL) A SIEM solution with real-time firewall management and automated change management.
  2. Zscaler Cloud Firewall Cloud-based next-generation firewall that has SSL inspection, granular firewall policies, and real-time monitoring.
  3. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall Cloud-based firewall that can detect zero-day threats, with network activity monitoring and VPN load balancing.
  4. GFI Languard Kerio Control Network firewall with an Intrusion Prevention System, deep packet inspection, configurable traffic policies, and usage reports.
  5. pFSense Open-source firewall that can be installed on any hardware and comes with a web-based GUI with add-ons.
  6. IPFire Open-source firewall with an Intrusion Prevention System, alerts, Stateful Packet Inspection, and add-ons.
  7. SophosXG Firewall Next-generation firewall with a dashboard, automatic threat response, sandboxing, and SSL inspection.

What’s the difference between a consumer firewall and an enterprise firewall?

Consumer firewalls are designed for home-users to protect single devices and use content/packet filtering to block basic cyber attacks. Enterprise firewalls use packet filtering but also incorporate more advanced features like SSL inspection, threat intelligence, and antivirus capabilities.

These platforms are more scalable and are designed to stop more sophisticated attacks. For example, many enterprise firewalls use SSL inspection to detect more advanced encrypted attacks that cunning attackers are using to sidestep less advanced defenses.

What’s the difference between network firewalls and website application firewalls?

Network firewalls control access to your network to keep out unwanted traffic. Website Application Firewalls (WAFs) prevent attacks on websites and applications. WAFs primarily prevent SQL injection attacks, application layer attacks, and malware that compromise online services.

The 7 best network firewall software

1. SolarWinds Security Event Manager (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Security Event Manager is a SIEM and firewall management solution. With SolarWinds Security Event Manager you can monitor your firewall and security events in real-time. The software recognizes suspicious activity such as port scanning or when the firewall blocks a device. The platform operates based on firewall rules, which come out-of-the-box but can also be customized.

To discover suspicious activity, the user has custom system filters that control what firewall events and devices show up on the screen. When the system detects a threat, the user has automated change management to change configurations automatically throughout the network. Change management shuts down vulnerabilities as soon as they are detected.

Reports allow you to record security events in more detail. There are hundreds of different default reports that comply with regulations including HIPAA, FISMA, PCI DSS, SOX, ISO, DISA, STIGs, FERPA, NERC CIP, GLBA, GPG13, and more.

SolarWinds Security Event Manager is recommended for enterprises that want a simple, reliable SIEM and firewall management solution. The program starts at $4,665 (£3,540). You can download the 30-day FREE trial.

SolarWinds Security Event ManagerDownload 30-day FREE Trial

2. Zscaler Cloud Firewall 

Zscaler Cloud Firewall is a next-generation firewall solution based in the cloud that can inspect HTTP / HTTPS traffic. Zscaler Cloud Firewall works through the user routing traffic to the cloud firewall where it is inspected. There is also an SSL inspection so you can catch attackers who are trying to enter the network through encrypted traffic.

The user can monitor security events in real-time. You can break application traffic down into users, locations, ports, and protocols. There is also deep packet inspection for packets including FTP, DNS, and TDS.

To control what traffic enters the network, there are granular firewall policies, which change based on the user, location, application, group, and department. For example, you could configure the network to only allow HTTP / HTTPS traffic for users on guest Wifi.

Zscaler Cloud Firewall is great for organizations that require a firewall that’s low cost and easy to deploy,. To view the pricing information for Zscaler Cloud Firewall you need to contact the company directly. You can request a demo.

3. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is a cloud-based firewall with VPN load balancing and advanced threat protection capabilities. Barracuda Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) scans incoming connections and files to identify malicious behavior and malware.

The software is capable of detecting known and zero-day threats with an Intrusion Detection and Prevention System. The system uses a signature-based section to scan for threats in real-time, including DoS, DDoS, SQL injections, viruses, and spyware.

You can manage the tool through the Barracuda NextGen Admin, which provides you with an overview of network activity. Here you can view a Status Map, Geo Maps, Configuration Updates, File Updates, Sessions, Floating Licenses, Statistics Collection, Scanner Versions, and more.

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is ideal for enterprises looking to protect multiple sites against both advanced and new threats. The firewall is available on-premises or in the cloud. You can request an evaluation on their website.

4. GFI Languard Kerio Control

GFI Languard Kerio Control is a network firewall with deep packet inspection. GFI Languard Kerio Control supports IPv4 and IPv6 and has an Intrusion Prevention System to keep out attackers. There is also an advanced gateway antivirus that scans web and FTP traffic to stop threats like viruses, trojans, and spyware. The antivirus updates automatically so that it is prepared to block the latest threats.

The firewall is highly configurable, and the user can configure traffic policies to control which connections are permitted to interact with the network. Traffic policies can be configured to affect specific URLs, types of traffic, applications, types of content, and more.

To stop you from missing anything important, GFI Languard Kerio Control has usage reporting. Usage reports let you view user activity and monitor what sites employees are visiting and the search terms they have used on websites. You can schedule the reports periodically so you can regularly check up on user activity. There are also iOS and Android notifications to let you know when security events take place.

There is a range of pricing options available for GFI Languard KerioControl; including Starter, Small, Medium, and Large. KerioControl Starter costs $32 (£25.05) per user and supports 10-19 users. The Small version costs $31 (£24.27) per user for 20-49 users, Medium costs $30 (£23.48) per user for 50-249 users, and the Large version costs $28 (£21.92) per user for 250-2999 users. You can download the 30-day free trial version.

5. pFSense

PFSense is an open-source firewall product that can be configured through a web-based user interface. PfSense can be installed on any hardware enabling it to adapt to the needs of organizations of all sizes. Through the GUI you can view data on traffics, interfaces, and gateways to manage your network. There is also a reporting feature so you can take a closer look at resource utilization.

One of the reasons why pFSense is so widely used is its packages. Packages like Squid, pfBlockerNG, SquidGuard, Darkstat and Snort add additional features and functions to the program.

For example, pfBlockerNG blocks ingoing and outgoing traffic based on IP address and domain name. You can also use pfBlockerNG to implement IP and DNS blacklisting to stop suspicious users from being able to connect to your site.

If you’re looking for a low-cost, open-source firewall solution that’s easy to configure then pFSense is a product that’s worth considering. You can download the Community Edition of pFSense for free (you can also purchase additional support from NetGate if you require extra assistance). Download pFSense for free.

6. IPFire

IPFire is an open-source firewall for Linux. The firewall has a mixture of QoS and security settings so your network can stay secure while keeping performance high. To identify threats the software uses an Intrusion Prevention System that can identify and block online threats such as DoS attacks. The system alerts you during an attack and blocks the attack automatically.

The user can also configure the platform to filter DOS attacks at the firewall so that they don’t affect network performance. IPFire also uses Stateful Packet Inspection to filters packets for malicious content. The user can also create custom configurations and security policies to determine which connections to allow.

The tool is also regularly updated so that it can defend against the latest threats. Graphical reports provide the user with a comprehensive view of the network. In addition, there a range of add-ons that enable the user to use IPFire as a Wireless Access Point, health management tool, or backup solution.

IPFire is a solution for enterprises that want to protect against cyberattacks without compromising network performance. SME’s are also supported given that the program can be downloaded for free. You can download the platform for free.

7. Sophos XG Firewall

Sophos XG Firewall is a next-generation firewall that can detect suspicious traffic and advanced threats. The tool uses a combination of deep learning and an intrusion prevention system to detect new threats.

After discovering a problem, Sophos XG Firewall uses an automatic threat response to automatically respond and isolate the compromised system. Sandstorm sandboxing helps to quarantine the threat and stop it from spreading.

To detect threats hidden in encrypted traffic, Sophos XG Firewall uses SSL inspection. SSL inspection makes the program ideal for fighting off the encrypted attacks that have become increasingly common.

The program also has a dashboard where the user can see an overview of systems, network attacks, traffic, user and device insights, and alert messages. Visualizations and graphs allow you to monitor security events at a glance. For example, you can view a graph of web activity to spot any unusual fluctuations in traffic.

Sophos XG Firewall is a great choice for organizations in search of an advanced firewall solution that can detect encrypted attacks. Features like deep learning and SSL inspection help to detect even the most sophisticated attacks. Contact the company directly for pricing information. You can start the 30-day free trial.

Network Firewall Software: Your First Line of Defense

Defending against online attackers is impossible without a firewall. A firewall is necessary to block unauthorized or suspicious traffic from entering your network. Network firewall software stops persistent cyber-criminals from disrupting or breaching your service.

Companies with a reliable firewall can rest easy knowing that they are equipped to discover and address the latest threats. There is a tremendous range of firewall tools that can help to thwart online attackers.

Firewall management tools like SolarWinds Security Event Manager, and modern firewalls like Zscaler, and GFI Languard Kerio Control are all top proprietary firewall software products that can help you configure your defenses and shut down attacks.

There are also open-source alternatives like pFSense and IPFire which are also highly effective with add-ons and vast configuration potential.