Best Small Business Firewalls

Small businesses and start-ups are some of the most important drivers of economic growth in any economy. But unfortunately, they are also easy targets for cyberattacks

The reason is not far-fetched. Most small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) lack the budget and expertise to implement effective cybersecurity strategies; and due to the size of their operations, they tend to assume they are safe from cyber-attacks when in reality, it’s quite the opposite.

Here is our list of the eight best small business firewalls:

  1. Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) 1000 Series A family of four threat-focused Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) security platforms designed to address the needs of the small office, home office, and remote branch office.
  2. Cisco Meraki MX A cloud-managed, multifunctional security appliance. Meraki MX appliances are equipped with SD-WAN capabilities that enable administrators to maximize network resiliency and bandwidth efficiency.
  3. Perimeter 81 A scalable hardware-free security platform that helps organizations secure access to their modern network infrastructure and digital assets, including local and cloud resources from end-point to data-center to the cloud.
  4. WatchGuard Firebox Comes in tabletop, rackmount, and software virtual appliances to give you the flexibility to deploy the solution as a hardware appliance in a physical environment or as software in a virtual or cloud infrastructure.
  5. Barracuda CLoudGen Firewall Next-generation firewall that integrates malware protection, spam protection, web, and email filtering, intrusion prevention, layer seven application profiling, network access control, VPN, and SD-WAN capabilities into one platform are centrally managed across multiple network locations.
  6. SonicWall Firewall Offers some great solutions for small businesses with larger data demands.
  7. Huawei USG firewall Comes in desktop, rackmount, data center (DC) chassis, and software virtual appliance model, giving you the flexibility to deploy as hardware or software virtual appliance in a physical or virtual environment.
  8. Sophos XGS Series Desktop A next-gen firewall appliance. The XGS series features a new Xstream Flow Processor that significantly improves performance.

SMBs are collecting more valuable data than ever before. In addition, most are transitioning to managed services and a fluid network infrastructure that extends to the cloud (SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS). This means perimeter defense efforts must go beyond protecting internal networks, in-house servers, and workstations to mobile devices used for work and cloud-hosted resources. This is where the next-generation firewall (NGFW) that combines a traditional firewall with other network device filtering functions comes into play.

Suppose you’re a startup, a growing business, or an SMB looking for a modern firewall solution that provides excellent value and is well-suited for your budget. In that case, you are in the right place; however, with such a huge range of firewall appliances out there, choosing the right one for your business and budget can be challenging. In this article, we’re going to review the eight best small business firewalls in the market. Hopefully, this will guide you in the process of selecting the right one for your environment.

The Best Small Business Firewalls

1. Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) 1000 Series

Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) 1000 Series
Figure 1.0 | Screenshot showing Cisco Firepower 1000 Series home page.

One of the largest and most influential market leaders in networking technology cisco, Systems s produces some of the most widely used firewalls today. After it acquired SourceFire (a manufacturer of next-generation firewalls) in 2013, Cisco merged the functionality of its ASA firewall software with the next-generation firewalls (NGFW) capabilities of the SourceFire FirePower. This gave birth to what we now know as Cisco Firepower Threat Defense or FTD. FTD is now Cisco’s leading next-generation firewall product.

The Cisco Firepower 1000 Series is a family of four threat-focused Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) security platforms designed to address the needs of the small office, home office, and remote branch office.

Key features and capabilities include:

  • Provides next-generation firewall capabilities, intrusion prevention system, malware protection, URL filtering, application visibility, and control.
  • Simpler management allows you to choose between cloud-based defense orchestrator, centralized on-premise, or on-box management.
  • Inspect up to three times higher throughput than the prior generation.
ModelForm FactorThroughput: FW + application visibility and control + IPStInterfaces
FPR-1010Desktop890 Mbps8 x RJ-45 (includes 2 POE+ capable ports)
FPR-11201RU2.3 Gbps8 x RJ-45, 4 x SFP
FPR-11401RU3.3 Gbps8 x RJ-45, 4 x SFP
FPR-11501RU5.3 Gbps8 x RJ-45, 2 x 1 Gbps SFP, 2 x 1/10 Gbps SFP+

Table 1.0 | Comparison of Firepower 1000 Series models

If you are looking for a modern firewall solution for your small business, the Cisco Firepower 1000 Series has it all. Cisco provides small businesses with flexible payment options via the Cisco Easy Pay plus. In addition, existing ASA customers have the opportunity to migrate to FTD using the Cisco Firepower Migration Tool without replacing the ASA device.

2. Cisco Meraki MX 

Cisco Meraki MX 
Figure 2.0 | Screenshot showing Cisco Meraki MX64 home page

The Cisco Meraki MX is a cloud-managed, multifunctional security appliance. Meraki MX appliances are equipped with SD-WAN capabilities that enable administrators to maximize network resiliency and bandwidth efficiency. In addition, the Cisco Meraki MX is natively integrated with a comprehensive suite of security capabilities such as application-based firewalling, content filtering, web search filtering, intrusion detection and prevention, malware protection, site-to-site, and client VPN, among other capabilities.

The following are a list of Cisco Meraki products targeted explicitly at SMBs:

  • MX64: Small-branch appliance with 250 Mbps firewall throughput for up to 50 users
  • MX64W: Small-branch appliance with 250 Mbps firewall throughput and integrated Wi-Fi for up to 50 users
  • MX67: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps throughput for up to 50 users
  • MX67C: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps firewall throughput and integrated LTE for up to 50 users
  • MX67W: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps firewall throughput and integrated Wi-Fi for up to 50 users
  • MX68: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps firewall throughput for up to 50 users
  • MX68CW: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps firewall throughput and integrated Wi-Fi and LTE for up to 50 users
  • MX68W: Small-branch appliance with 450 Mbps firewall throughput and integrated Wi-Fi for up to 50 users
  • MX75: Flagship small-branch appliance with 1 Gbps firewall throughput for up to 200 users
  • MX84: Small-medium branch appliance with 500 Mbps firewall throughput for up to 200 users
  • vMX (Small and Medium): Small (200 Mbps VPN throughput) and medium (500 Mbps VPN throughput) virtual appliance image for public and private clouds

Cisco provides three license options for the MX appliance: Enterprise, Advanced Security, and Secure SD-WAN Plus. If all you require is Auto VPN and a firewall, then the Enterprise licensing option is the most ideal. Meraki devices use the Meraki cloud for centralized management and control. The Meraki cloud is licensed on a per device, per year basis. If you are looking for a security solution to protect your modern network infrastructure located on-premise and in the cloud—SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS-based infrastructure, the Cisco Meraki firewall is a good choice. A free online evaluation is available.

3. Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81
Figure 3.0 |  Perimeter 81 admin interface

Perimeter 81 is a scalable hardware-free security platform that helps organizations secure access to their modern network infrastructure and digital assets, including local and cloud resources from end-point to data-center to the cloud. In addition, it offers network visibility, resource access segmentation, and full integration with major cloud providers, giving organizations peace of mind in the cloud.

Perimeter 81 is ideal for SMBs, especially those looking for a next-gen firewall as a service and a modern alternative to traditional corporate VPN systems.

Key features and capabilities include:

  • Integration with identity providers or directory services such as SAML, LDAP, Active Directory, Touch ID, and more
  • Option to deploy private servers on your premises, in a remote location, or the cloud, allowing you to restrict access to specific resources
  • Activity reports and analytics, enabling you to monitor logins, app connections, and connections to unsecured WiFi
  • Central cloud management with single-click apps for prominent platforms
  • Two-factor authentication, automatic WiFi protection, and kill switch
  • 700 servers in 36 countries

To get started, all you need to do is sign up, invite your team, install the apps, and create user groups. You can give network access to as many team members as possible, assign them to specific groups, and add or remove user permissions with a single click. Perimeter 81 offers flexible subscription plans with billing occurring yearly or monthly. Sign up process for all plans is commitment-free and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. A free online demo allows you to test drive the solution before making a financial commitment.

4. WatchGuard Firebox

WatchGuard Firebox
Figure 4.0 Screenshot showing Watchguard cloud dashboard

WatchGuard’s firewall solution, which it brands as Firebox, delivers an all-in-one network security platform and protection for primarily small, midsize, and distributed enterprises. It does not directly address large conglomerates or big data centers. However, it is among the industry’s finest when it comes to performance. Some of the critical features of WatchGuard’s Firebox solution include a stateful firewall, IPS, URL filtering, gateway AV, application control, antispam, and features for combating advanced threats such as file sandboxing data loss prevention, ransomware protection, and more.

WatchGuard Firebox comes in tabletop, rackmount, and software virtual appliances to give you the flexibility to deploy the solution as a hardware appliance in a physical environment or as software in a virtual or cloud infrastructure.

  • Tabletop Firebox appliances: Just as the name implies, these are small form-factor, high-performance, tabletop hardware appliances ranging from T15 to T80 designed for home office, SMB, and branch office locations.
  • Rackmount Firebox appliances: The 1U rack-mount appliance ranging from M270 to M670 is designed for small and growing midsize businesses.
  • Virtual/cloud Firebox solution: FireboxV and Firebox Cloud is the software version of the Firebox with all of the security and performance required for any size organization moving their IT infrastructure to a virtual environment—private or public cloud.

WatchGuard sells subscriptions for the security software modules for Firebox appliances, either individually or as a suite. All WatchGuard hardware includes a one-year hardware warranty.

If you are considering WatchGuard Firebox for your business, all you need do is to:

  1. Select your preferred model or appliance type
  2. Select your preferred security package—Total Security Suit or Basic Security Suite
  3. Contact a WatchGuard certified reseller for quotation

5. Barracuda CLoudGen Firewall

Barracuda CLoudGen Firewall
Figure 5.0 | Firewall Control Center dashboard showing CloudGen Firewall deployments.

Barracuda CLoudGen Firewall is a next-generation firewall that integrates malware protection, spam protection, web and email filtering, intrusion prevention, layer seven application profiling, network access control, VPN, and SD-WAN capabilities into one platform are centrally managed across multiple network locations. CloudGen Firewalls are available as hardware, virtual, and public cloud instances.

CloudGen Firewall models include F12A, F18B, F80B, F82A.DSLA, F82A.DSLB, F93A.R, and F180B are particularly suited for SMBs. All CloudGen Firewall platforms and models provide the same level of security, maintaining maximum security from branch offices to headquarters. Barracuda’s firewalls can be deployed across multiple physical locations and in cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall makes cloud deployment easy with templates, APIs, and deep integration with cloud-native features.

CloudGen Firewall provides regular Bring-Your-Own more extensive License (BYOL) and highly flexible Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) licensing based on either hourly- or volume-based (metered) consumption. A free trial is available.

6. SonicWall Firewall

SonicWall Firewall
Figure 6.0 | Screenshot showing SonicOS configuration interface

SonicWall firewalls offer some great solutions for small businesses with larger data demands. It combines Next-generation firewall capabilities such as anti-malware, IP reputation, SSL inspection, IPS, VPN, web content filtering, application identification, TLS/SSL/SSH decryption, and inspection, among others in one platform. In addition, SonicWall appliances are powered by a software called SonicOS that enables all the security and networking features.

SonicWall firewalls support deployments across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

The SonicWall firewall models targeted at small to mid-size organizations are grouped under the following categories:

  • SonicWall TZ SOHO Series: These entry-level UTM products (in wired and wireless models) combine threat prevention and SD-WAN technology, targeted at small to mid-size organizations and remote offices.
  • Network Security Appliance (NSA) series: These are hardware appliances that range from NSA 2650 series to NSA 9650 series and are targeted at mid-sized networks to distributed enterprises and data centers.
  • Network Security Virtual (NSV) series: These are full-featured SonicWall UTM software applications ranging from NSV 10 to NSV 1600, designed to deal with security issues within virtual environments.

SonicWall firewall licensing is subscription-based, and it comes with standard and premium support. However, before deciding to purchase a SonicWall subscription, you first need to determine the appliance type, model, and subscription that is right for your business.

7. Huawei Unified Security Gateway (USG)

Huawei Unified Security Gateway (USG)
Figure 7.0 | Screenshot showing Huawei USG admin dashboard

Huawei is a well-known brand in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia (EMEAA)  markets. Huawei’s firewall solution, which it brands as Unified Security Gateway (USG), provides integrated security for small, midsize, and large enterprises, including cloud service providers and large data centers. Huawei USG firewall comes in desktop, rackmount, data center (DC) chassis, and software virtual appliance model, giving you the flexibility to deploy as hardware or software virtual appliance in a physical or virtual environment.

Huawei firewall models targeted at small to midsize organizations are grouped under the following categories:

  • Desktop model: The Huawei HiSecEngine USG6500E series such as USG6510E and USG6530E is the desktop hardware firewall appliance targeted at SMBs, branch offices, and franchise businesses.
  • Rackmount model: The hardware is the HiSecEngine USG6500E series (fixed-configuration), USG6600E series, and USG6700E series (fixed-configuration) rackmount appliances designed for small and medium-sized enterprises, including chain organizations, institutions/campuses, and data centers.
  • Software virtual appliance model: The Huawei USG6000V series such as USG6000V1 to USG6000V8 is a software virtual appliance model designed to run in virtual environments, providing virtualized gateway services such as vFW, vIPsec, vLB, vIPS, vAV, and vURL Remote Query.

One of the remarkable features of the Huawei USG firewall is the innovative AI capabilities it brings to threat defense. Other features include NGFW, application control, IPS, bandwidth management, URL filtering/web protection, antivirus, VPN, DLP, DDoS mitigation, and policy management. All Huawei USG products can be purchased directly from Huawei or accredited partners.

8. Sophos XGS Series Desktop

Sophos XGS Series Desktop
Figure 8.0 | Screenshot showing Sophos XGS Series home page

Sophos is a well-known brand in the security space. The Sophos XGS series firewall is its latest next-gen firewall appliance. The XGS series features a new Xstream Flow Processor that significantly improves performance. The Sophos XGS series firewall appliance comes in desktop, 1U, and 2U models (for large organizations).

  • Desktop Model: These are the entry-level range that provides excellent value and all-in-one connectivity for all your branch office, retail outlet, and small business needs. The models in this category include 87/87w, 107/107w, 116/116w, 126/126w, 136/136w (“W” signifies support for a wireless network).
  • 1U Rackmount Model: Provides performance and connectivity options to meet the security infrastructure needs of larger SMBs and mid-sized organizations. The models in this category include 2100, 2300, 3100, 3300, 4300, 4500.

Sophos gives you the flexibility to deploy its firewall as a hardware appliance, virtual appliance, or cloud-based appliance. Additionally, organizations looking for an affordable all-in-one network security solution will appreciate the seamless connectivity options available for the Sophos XGS desktop appliances. All desktop models are optionally available with built-in Wi-Fi.

Some of its key features and capabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Next-generation firewall (NGFW) protection
  • Email Protection, encryption, and anti-spam
  • Site-site and remote access VPN
  • Mobile network access control
  • Data loss prevention (DLP)
  • Advanced threat protection
  • Endpoint protection

Sophos licensing is based on subscription. You can either subscribe individually to those features or purchase a single pre-packaged FullGuard license. The Sophos standard support provides manual updates, knowledge base, community forum, and return and replace services. Premium support gives you 24/7 technical support from Sophos Support engineers, automatic updates, and advanced replacements. A free online demo is available.