In recent years, Next-Gen Firewalls (NGFW) have emerged as a key technology for securing enterprise networks against modern online threats. Next gen firewalls combine the protection of a traditional firewall with advanced features like packet filtering and intrusion detection to combat a broader range of cyberattacks.
In this article, we’re going to look at the nine best next-gen firewalls. Our comparison includes an overview of some of the top next-gen firewalls on the market, with features such as intrusion prevention systems, SSL inspection, machine learning, and policy management.
Here is a list of the nine best Next-Gen Firewalls (NGFW):
- Perimeter 81 FWaaS EDITOR’S CHOICE This cloud-based network protection service is part of a collection of edge services and connectivity systems that keep distributed businesses secure.
- Fortinet FortiGate (7000 series) -A leading next-gen firewall with intrusion prevention, AI, SSL inspection, management console, and more.
- Forcepoint NGFW – Next-gen firewall with automated failover, advanced malware detection, application whitelisting/blacklisting, and more.
- Palo Alto Networks PA Series – Machine learning next-gen firewall with TLS/SSL decryption, QoS policies, automated threat prevention, and more.
- Juniper Networks SRX Series – A range of firewalls and SD-WAN solutions with unified threat management, advanced threat protection, centralized security management, and more.
- SonicWall Next-Generation Firewall TZ Series – Next-gen firewalls with zero-touch deployment, deep memory inspection, SSL/TLS decryption, and more.
- Barracuda CloudGen Firewall – Next-gen firewall with advanced threat protection, an IDS/IPS, VPN, and more.
- Cisco FirePOWER Series – Series of network firewalls with an IPS, malware detection, centralized policy management, URL filtering, and more.
- Sophos XG Series – Series of next-gen firewalls with threat intelligence, intrusion prevention, a web application firewall, anti-spam solution, and more.
The Best Next-Gen Firewalls
What should you look for in a next-generation firewall for your network?
We reviewed the market for next-gen firewalls and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- Cloud-based options
- Systems that can protect multiple sites
- Behavior analytics for activity baselining
- Automated responses
- Alerts for suspicious activity
- A free trial or a demo system for a cost-free assessment opportunity
- Good value for money from a comprehensive tool that doesn’t require paid add-ons in order to provide full protection for your systems.
With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for reliable next-gen firewalls that can be used to block suspicious activity as well as identify it.
Perimeter 81 produces a range of edge services, including its Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS). The FWaaS concept has many advantages over onsite firewall appliances. You don’t need to house, power, maintain, or protect the Perimeter 81 system – all of the hosting and management of the firewall is taken care of by the Perimeter 81 staff.
- Enforces traffic encryption
- Implements Single Sign On and 2FA
- Covers multiple sites and remote workers
- Software maintenance included in the price
The FWaaS architecture is an interesting proposition for all sizes and configurations of enterprises. Small businesses probably don’t have a very complicated network and wouldn’t have the expertise on site to manage a comprehensive firewall. The Perimeter 81 system gives those small enterprises the full protection level experienced by big businesses, without any of the hassles of having to look after a complicated piece of equipment.
Larger businesses would also benefit from the Perimeter 81 FWaaS because it enables the protection of networks on multiple sites to be integrated into one service – watched from one single console. For businesses that prioritize IT service centralization, this is a very interesting option.
Flexible, innovative businesses that practice a virtual office strategy would be particularly interested in the Perimeter 81 FWaaS. If your business doesn’t operate any premises and uses freelance remote workers, then the task of linking all of those endpoints together into a secure whole can be problematic.
- Flexible features and offers that cater to smaller networks as well as enterprises
- Multi-site management makes this viable for MSPs
- Easy to use object-based configurations
- Would like to see a trial as opposed to a demo
The FWaaS is an edge service and it fronts all of your business’s communications with the world, so it is able to present a single entry point to front a distributed workforce. Request a demo to get started.
Perimeter 81 FWaaS is our top pick for a NextGen firewall because it has all of the advantages of a cloud service while fully protecting your endpoints and services no matter where in the world they are located. The FWaaS is located away from your network and protects the link from its base through to your facilities with encryption. This service also manages secure connections between all of your sites, providing one entrypoint for a distributed business.
Request a Demo and Start: perimeter81.com/lp/next-gen-firewall-as-a-service
Fortinet FortiGate is a series of next-gen firewalls that includes an intrusion prevention system that can automatically detect threats. The Fortinet Fortigate 7000 series is the gold standard of next-gen firewalls with threat detection powered by AI, which can inspect plain text or encrypted traffic and identify cyber-attacks.
- Intrusion prevention system
- AI-threat detection
- SSL inspection
- Centralized management console
In terms of throughput, Fortinet FortiGate offers 100 GBPS of NGFW throughput, 120 GBPS of intrusion prevention throughput, 50 GBPS of SSL inspection throughput, and 80 GBPS of threat protection throughput. The high throughput enhances performance and lowers latency for end-users.
Users can manage their network settings through the management console, which comes with features like compliance checklists you can use to manage your environment.
- Uses machine learning and AI to detect and stop threats
- Can identify threats even when embedded in encrypted traffic via SSL inspection
- Ideal for enterprises and MSPs
- Better suited for larger environments
Fortinet FortiGate is one of the top solutions to research if you want a top-of-range next-gen firewall. It is available as an appliance and virtual machine. You can request a demo from this link here.
Related post: The best Fortinet analyzers
Forcepoint NGFW is a solution that combines a next-gen firewall with an SD-WAN for high availability. With Forcepoint NGFW you can deploy broadband, wireless, and dedicated lines on-premises with automated failover to protect against service disruptions. Through the dashboard you can view a top-down perspective of network activity, helping you to identify and respond to security events quickly.
- High availability
- Automated failover
The firewall comes with Forcepoint Advanced Malware Detection to detect zero-day ransomware threats. Zero-day protection is useful because it protects against unknown strains of malware and ransomware, reducing the chance of your network falling victim to the latest online threats.
At the application-level, Forcepoint NGFW provides whitelisting and blacklisting to control which applications can access the internet. Application controls are customizable so you can select which services will be able to access online services. The firewall also includes accelerated decryption to inspect HTTPS and SSL/TLS traffic to ensure that no malicious activity takes place.
- Supports automated failover through multiple interfaces
- Uses AI-powered malware detection to prevent zero-day attacks
- Can inspect a large volume of traffic quickly for threats
- Not the best option for smaller networks
Forcepoint NGFW is ideal for enterprises that require a high-availability and secure firewall solution. For pricing information, you need to contact the sales team to request a quote. You can request a demo from this link here.
Palo Alto Networks PA Series is a machine learning-powered next-gen firewall. With Palo Alto Networks PA Series you can use TLS/SSL decryption and inspection to monitor traffic and ensure that no encrypted malicious traffic gets through your defenses. There is also DoS protection to defend against brute force attacks on your network.
- Machine learning
- TLS/SSL decryption
- QoS policies
- DoS protection
- Automated threat detection
The Palo Alto Network PA series comes with a range of administration options you can use to manage your network. For example, configurable QoS policies allow you to optimize network performance and determine which applications and users take priority.
A threat prevention feature uses payload-based signatures to block malware and zero-day attacks. Palo Alto Networks updates the signatures daily to ensure the firewall can detect the latest threats. In addition, URL filtering automatically detects and prevents web-based threats like phishing links and phishing sites.
- Uses machine learning to monitor traffic patents, provide insights, and detect threats
- Offers DoS protection and brute force prevention
- Offers highly customizable QoS options – great for larger networks and MSPs
- Many advanced options require professional setup and management
Palo Alto Networks PA Series is one of the top firewalls for enterprises in the market for an advanced next-gen firewall with anomaly detection capabilities and QoS settings. For pricing information, you need to contact the company directly to request a quote. You can request a demo from this link here.
Juniper Networks SRX Series is a range of firewalls and SD-WAN solutions designed for private, hybrid, and public cloud environments. The firewall addresses online threats head-on by scanning incoming traffic with deep packet inspection to identify viruses, malware, and other malicious attachments.
- Firewall and SD-WAN
- Unified threat management
- Juniper advanced threat prevention
- Centralized security management
The firewalls also come with Juniper Advanced Threat Prevention, which can identify known and unknown threats with machine learning and advanced malware analysis. Centralized security management gives users the option to manage the security settings of multiple locations from one place.
- A great fit for larger environments that leverage cloud resources
- Leverages machine learning and AI for malware detection and prevention
- Offers built-in UTM
- Must request a quote for pricing
Juniper Networks SRX Series is an excellent choice for enterprises that need to defend against day-one threats. For pricing information, you need to contact Juniper directly to request a quote. You can sign up to buy from this link here.
SonicWall’s Next-Generation Firewall TZ Series is a series of firewalls aimed at SMEs. The TZ Series offers zero-touch deployment so you can deploy devices to multiple locations and use Network Security Manager to centrally manage your network configurations.
- Zero-touch deployment
- Deep memory inspection
- Built-in storage and redundant power
- SSL/TLS decryption
With deep memory inspection, the TZ Series detects advanced cyber attacks such as ransomware and malware with shared threat intelligence that can detect zero-day threats. When combined with the intrusion prevention system and content filtering, the TZ Series provides comprehensive protection against all types of threats.
At the same time, SSL/TLS decryption looks out for threats hidden in encrypted traffic. For extra security, employees can access the network with the 802.11ac wireless SSL VPN.
- Easy to learn and navigate interface
- Robust content filtering, NAT policy creation, and QoS options
- Builtin VPN services
- Must request a quote for pricing
SonicWall’s Next-Generation Firewall TZ Series is a reliable option for SMEs looking for a next-gen firewall with a diverse selection of security features. To view pricing information for the TZ series you need to contact the sales team to request a quote. You can submit an inquiry from this link here.
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is a next-gen firewall with traffic management and SD-WAN. The series comes with advanced threat protection and checks files against a regularly updated cryptographic hash database to identify malicious activity. If the system detects malicious activity it can respond with an automatic quarantine to control the problem.
- Traffic management
- Advanced threat protection
- Intrusion detection and prevention
An Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDS/IPS) provides protection against cyber threats. The IDS/IPS can detect network threats such as SQL injections, access control attempts, cross-site scripting, DoS/DDoS attacks, viruses, and spyware, so it can block even the most advanced attacks.
VPN capabilities enable remote users to connect to network resources with SSL and IPsec. The VPN is portal-based so that users can connect seamlessly. There is also a mobile portal for iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices that employees can access from a smartphone or tablet.
- Offers automated threat responses options to malware attacks
- Includes IDS/IPS settings to stop probing and DoS attacks
- Offers VPN service with mobile support
- Better suited for enterprise networks
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is a solution suitable for those that require advanced threat detection and automated response capabilities. You can order a trial from this link here.
Cisco FirePOWER is a series of network firewalls with IPS and malware detection capabilities. The Cisco FirePOWER Series IPS can identify indicators of compromise within the network and automatically respond. Regular signature updates ensure the IPS is also ready to detect emerging online threats. At the same time, advanced malware protection detects and blocks malware from entering your network.
- URL filtering
- Malware detection
- Centralized policy management
Centralized policy management allows you to manage firewalls, application control, URL filtering, and malware protection. Here you can monitor discovered threats and begin the remediation process. There is also a URL filtering feature that can categorize over 280 million URLs with 80 different categories.
- Can alert to indicators of compromise both internally and externally
- Offers robust policy management and access controls for staff
- Has granularURL filtering and content filtering options
- Can be complicated for sysadmin with little prior Cisco experience
The Cisco FirePOWER series is recommended for enterprises that need to secure public or private cloud environments. For pricing information, you need to contact the company directly to request a quote. You can contact the sales team here.
The Sophos XG series is a series of next-gen firewalls that use threat intelligence and intrusion prevention to block unknown threats. The Sophos XG Series’ threat intelligence uses deep learning to detect zero-day threats. This enables the firewall to follow up with automatic responses like quarantining the malicious content so it can’t spread to other systems.
- Intrusion prevention
- Deep learning
- VPN client (and mobile VPN)
- Web application firewall
- Email inbox protection
A web application firewall provides protection against Layer 7 web-based attacks. Similarly, there is an anti-spam solution that protects the user’s inbox from threats like phishing attacks and spam.
Remote workers can easily connect to your network with a VPN client. The VPN client is available on Windows and macOS so that users can log into the network from wherever they are located. There are also application-based mobile VPN clients with IPSEC and SSL VPN.
- Can detect and stop zero-days through machine learning
- Flexible VPN client supporting SSL and IPSEC
- Offers email filtering gateway to prevent spam and phishing attempts
- Must contact sales for pricing
The Sophos XG Series is suitable for enterprises that require all-around protection from private-network and web-based threats. You need to contact the company directly to request a quote for pricing information. You can sign up for the free trial here.
Choosing a Next-Gen Firewall
Next-gen firewalls like the Fortinet FortiGate, Forcepoint NGFW, and Palo Alto Networks PA Series are leading the way to combat the next generation of threats while granting users enhanced centralized management capabilities.
Before committing to deployment, it’s a good idea to research multiple solutions so you can find a firewall that provides the best coverage against the threats facing your environment.
Next-gen firewall FAQs
What is the difference between UTM and next-generation firewall NGFW?
A next-generation firewall adds new functions to the traditional firewall tasks of blocking inbound connection requests. These include packet inspection, application layer data examination, threat intelligence, and intrusion detection measures. UTM stands for Unified Threat Management and this is a system that combines the activities of different security tools operating on a network. A firewall will be part of a UTM but it won’t include as many threat protection functions as a next-gen firewall.
Does NGFW have IPS?
IPS stands for “intrusion prevention system.” An IPS is an intrusion detection system (IDS) with added responses to shut down malicious activities. A firewall has IDS capabilities. You wouldn’t expect a firewall to detect a threat and then just let its traffic through and so you can be sure that the firewall will have playbooks to block intrusion. This makes a next-gen firewall an IPS system.
What layer does a NGFW use?
A next-generation firewall is an Application Layer tool, which is Layer 7. This is because a NGFW examines traffic across packets, so it is more than a Network Layer tool that would only be concerned with individual packets. It is also more than a Session Layer tool because it examines the contents of the packets. It is also higher than the Data Layer because the system deals with intent and function rather than just data, so it operates at the top layer of the OSI stack.