If you have a number of systems that are necessary components of your small business, a firewall is an important measure to keep everything safe. Avoiding ransomware, limiting the opportunity for social engineering, and stopping viral attacks in their tracks are all possible with a dedicated, efficient firewall. These are our favorites.
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The best firewalls for small businesses at a glance:
- The best overall firewall: Fortinet
- The best simple firewall: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter
- The best enterprise firewall: Cisco NGFW
- The best free software firewall: OPNSense
Fortinet’s hardware-driven firewalls are some of the most respected in the industry and some of the most secure. Not only do they have a powerful software backbone that offers a variety of important protections for both midsize and small businesses, but it is one of the few companies that has designed its own application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) processors. These security chips are purpose built to offer high-speed network management, with the ability to scale up as your business grows, without compromising security.
For small businesses, Fortinet offers a variety of great routers, each with support for its Next Generation Firewall protection. They offer varied bandwidths for different functions which you’ll need to decide upon based on your businesses’ unique requirements, but all of them can enjoy Fortinet’s strong firewall and a number of other protective features.
Management is through a singular console which keeps all wired and wireless connections grouped together for simple and comprehensive oversight at all times. It’s all managed in the cloud too, so remote operation is perfectly possible no matter your business needs.
Arguably the best way to take advantage of what Fortinet offers though, is through its Security Fabric package, designed specifically for small businesses. It offers a comprehensive solution that includes endpoint device protection, a strong firewall, and improved security for individual devices and applications.
You can request a demonstration or a quote direct from Fortinet.
The Ubituiqi Edge routers aren’t a firewall in and of themselves, but they are an affordable network router that has a built in firewall that by default blocks all incoming web traffic. That’s a great way to keep your business protected from any outside sources, whilst still allowing you to send information into the wider internet if you need.
But you don’t have to settle for that if you need some form of two way communication with the world. Ubiquiti’s routers have a simple system for adding specific, bespoke rules for the Firewall, letting you completely customize what goes where and what can communicate with what on your network. Want to block all connections between the internet and your local network? Easy. Want to allow traffic for already existing connections, but block everything else? Done.
Ubiquiti even has a handy guide to help you get started with the manual process, or kick start the automatic configuration which lets you make some more modest customizations.
None of the Edge hardware that gives you access to the firewall is overly expensive and the whole thing can be configured without an in-depth knowledge of networking, making it great for smaller businesses which want to focus on running the business, rather than an expansive network.
The Firewall doesn’t have built in anti-malware solutions, nor a VPN, but those take configuring and management and can be supplemented with other software. If you want a firewall that does what you need it to and doesn’t take much management, the one found in Ubiquiti’s routers is a great place to start.
Cisco has been a household name in networking for decades and with good reason. Its products might typically be targeted at larger organizations, but if you want a solution that has that enterprise feel, scales well, and offers comprehensive and premium features, there are few better than Cisco’s Meraki MX small branch firewalls.
There’s a wide range of models to pick from. The most entry-level options can handle 50 clients at a time with 50 simultaneous VPN connections, while the largest are capable of managing up to 10,000 simultaneous connections, 1,500 of them over a VPN tunnel. That’s overkill for almost anyone, but the point is that if you like what Cisco’s Meraki range offers, there’s likely to be a piece of hardware that is perfect for your small business.
Small branch solutions like the MX64 offer cloud-based management with full stateful firewall protection. Additional security features include content filtering and advanced malware protection, and there’s automated VPN configuration if you want to protect all of your outbound web connections.
Larger, more capable routers come with support for a greater number of connections, but also add support for extra SSIDs. All solutions also support USB modem connections for 3G/4G connectivity in case your standard internet connection fails, too.
You might need to supply your own hardware with OPNSense, but it’s a completely free, open source, easy-to-use firewall solution that provides most of the same features you see on high-end, commercial firewalls from major developers. It enjoys weekly security updates, semi-annual releases of major platform updates, and there are extensive communities and documentation that can be mined to learn how to get to grips with it.
Although this isn’t necessarily the best starting point for beginners, OPNSense is still simple to manage through its web interface and is a fast and capable firewall that is as suited to small network as it is to ones at very large organizations.
To get started with OPNSense, check out the beginner’s guide. It will walk you through the kind of hardware you’ll need to run it, the basic setup guidelines and where to go from there.
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