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.
Here is our list of the best network firewall security software:
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager EDITOR’S CHOICE A SIEM solution with real-time firewall management and automated change management. Download the 30-day free trial.
- CrowdStrike Falcon Firewall Management (FREE TRIAL) The Falcon suite of cybersecurity services includes endpoint protection as well as a firewall protection system. CrowdStrike offers a 15-day free trial of this service.
- Zscaler Cloud Firewall Cloud-based next-generation firewall that has SSL inspection, granular firewall policies, and real-time monitoring.
- Barracuda CloudGen Firewall Cloud-based firewall that can detect zero-day threats, with network activity monitoring and VPN load balancing.
- GFI Languard Kerio Control Network firewall with an Intrusion Prevention System, deep packet inspection, configurable traffic policies, and usage reports.
- pFSense Open-source firewall that can be installed on any hardware and comes with a web-based GUI with add-ons.
- IPFire Open-source firewall with an Intrusion Prevention System, alerts, Stateful Packet Inspection, and add-ons.
- SophosXG Firewall Next-generation firewall with a dashboard, automatic threat response, sandboxing, and SSL inspection.
The best network firewall security software
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.
- Enterprise focused SIEM with a wide range of integrations
- Simple log filtering, no need to learn a custom query language
- Dozens of templates allow administrators to start using SEM with little setup or customization
- Historical analysis tool helps find anomalous behavior and outliers on the network
- SEM Is an advanced SIEM product built for professionals, requires time to fully learn the platform
The program starts at $4,665 (£3,540). You can download the 30-day free trial.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager is our top choice and is recommended for enterprises that want a simple, reliable SIEM and firewall management solution.
Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/security-event-manager
OS: Windows 10 and later, Windows Server 2012 and later, Cloud-based: Hypervisor, AWS and MS Azure
CrowdStrike produces a complete system security suite, which includes endpoint protection (anti-virus) and firewall features under the Falcon band name. The Falcon Firewall Management system enables each device to have a separate defense system, while still allowing centralized control. This is achieved by implementing the firewall with an agent on each device, so it is a “networked” firewall, rather than a network firewall.
The entire protection system is cloud-based, with the console being accessed through a browser. The distributed nature of the firewall – protecting each device – requires some software to be loaded onto each endpoint. However, the on-device software is all coordinated centrally, so it is very easy to standardize settings and create policies for all devices, or groups of devices, they can then be implemented with the click of a mouse.
The cloud-based strategy of Falcon’s firewall removes the heavy processing load that cybersecurity software often creates. It also removes the need to manage an update policy and there is no need to install or manage signature databases on each device because all of the detection processing occurs on the CrowdStrike servers.
- Doesn’t rely on only log files to threat detection, uses process scanning to find threats right away
- Acts as a HIDS and endpoint protection tool all in one
- Can track and alert anomalous behavior over time, improves the longer it monitors the network
- Can install either on-premise or directly into a cloud-based architecture
- Lightweight agents won’t slow down servers or end-user devices
- Would benefit from a longer trial period
CrowdStrike offers a 15-day free trial of all of its Falcon security suite, including the firewall management system.
Related post: The Best Web Application Firewalls
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.
- Operates in the cloud, no compliance onboarding or infrastructure expense
- Can customize bandwidth allocation on a percent basis, good for larger networks and more granular control
- Can access the dashboard via browser from anywhere
- Must contact sales for pricing
- Limited reporting functionality
- The interface is simple but lacks details found in similar tools
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.
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.
- The interface is easy to use and scales well when monitoring multiple networks and wide-scale access rules
- Features a built-in IDS to help alert to port scans and other pre-attack events
- The NexGen Admin dashboard is highly customizable and offers many different ways to report and visualize firewall insights
- Suited more for enterprises, many features can be too much for smaller networks
- No free trial must manually request an evaluation version from their sales team
- Pricing is not transparent, must reach out to sales for a quote
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.
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.
- The interfaces are easy to learn and navigate
- Features deep packet inspection tools along alongside the intuition protection system
- Object-based ruleset makes it easy to build custom access rules based on a variety of metrics
- Usage reports allow for content monitoring user behavior analytics
- Four pricing plans make it affordable for nearly all networks
- It can take time to fully explore all features and options on the platform
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.
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.
- Open source firewall application with a free and paid option
- Integrates well into popular security tools such as Snort, Darkstat, and pfBlockerNG
- Interface makes it easy to push out bulk additions to blacklists based on captured data
- Users must rely on the community forums and knowledge base for support on the free version
- The interface can be challenging and take a while to navigate
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.
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.
- Free open source platform
- Offers traffic shaping and QoS features alongside firewall settings
- Utilizes stateful packet inspection to mitigate threats such as DDoS attacks
- A large number of community-built add-ons
- No paid support option
- The platform has a steeper learning curve than similar tools
- The interface feels outdated and clunky, making administration tasks cumbersome
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.
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.
- Great interface, excellent use of color to highlight critical insights
- Utilizes artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms to identify new threats not picked up by signature-based detection
- Offers SSL and deep packet inspection for encrypted attacks and malicious malformed packets
- Highly customizable and visual dashboards are great in a NOC environment
- Multiple locations could be combined into a single tab to avoid having to tab back and forth
- Could benefit from more integrations
- Could use more training resources for new users, videos, and KB articles
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.
Choosing network firewall security software
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 security 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 CrowdStrike Falcon, 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.
Related post: Next-Gen Firewalls
Network Firewall Security FAQs
What's the difference between a consumer firewall and a network firewall?
Consumer firewalls are designed for home-users to protect single devices and use content/packet filtering to block basic cyber attacks.
Network firewalls, also called 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.