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The best firewalls for small businesses in 2020

Your cybersecurity is always important, but small businesses must interact with sensitive personal information like financial records. It’s important to keep this type of information safe, especially since small businesses are a favorite cybercriminal target. A secure firewall is the first step. 

Different firewall applications have different functions, and if you’re interested in learning more about what’s best for your small business or startup, we have got you covered.

Interested in the best marketing apps for small businesses? We have a guide for that, too.

The best firewalls for small businesses at a glance:

The best firewall for small business: Fortinet Security Fabric

Fortinet’s hardware-driven firewalls are some of the most respected in the industry and some of the most secure. Not only does the company 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 choose based on your businesses’ unique requirements. Still, all of them can enjoy Fortinet’s strong firewall and several other protective features.

Management is through a singular console that keeps all wired and wireless connections grouped for simple and comprehensive oversight at all times. It’s all managed in the cloud, too, so remote operation is entirely 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 directly from Fortinet.

The best simple firewall for small business: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter

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 while still allowing you to send information into the wider internet if you need to.

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 that want to focus on running the business rather than an expansive network.

The Firewall doesn’t have built-in anti-malware solutions or a VPN, but those features take configuration and management, plus supplementation from 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.

The best enterprise firewall: Cisco Meraki MX

Cisco has been a household name in networking for decades and with good reason. Its products might typically be targeted at larger organizations. Still, 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. Simultaneously, the largest is 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 an 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 and add support for extra SSIDs. All solutions also support USB modem connections for 3G/4G connectivity in case your standard internet connection fails, too.

The best free firewall for small business: OPNSense

You might need to supply your own hardware with OPNSense. Still, 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 suited to small networks as it is to ones at substantial organizations.

To get started with OPNSense, check out the beginner’s guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the type of hardware you will need to run it, the basic setup guidelines, and where to go from there.

Best firewall for data-dependent small businesses: SonicWall

If you’re a startup or growing business that depends greatly on offering online services or managing data, you may not quite be ready for a Cisco-level solution quite yet. However, you don’t want to come up short, so you’re probably looking for something similar that’s versatile, agile, and well-suited for small companies. That’s where SonicWall comes in. The entry-level SonicWall firewall options offer some great solutions for small businesses with larger data demands. SonicWall’s firewall choices are optimized for great performance, use machine learning to get better at security, and offer swift “zero-touch deployment” options so that you and your team can get set up fast. The single-pass deep packet inspection process is also quite impressive. You may also appreciate that integrated Wi-Fi is an option if you decide to go with SonicWall. There are five different devices for small businesses to explore based on what they need in the entry-level category alone. If you’re interested, you can always check out their site for updated info about their options, available upgrades, and pricing. 

Best firewall for home businesses: Firewalla

If you have an at-home business or startup that is just getting going, you may find that you need more security. Unfortunately, many firewall selections overdo it since they offer way more than a from-home business initially needs. Fortunately, Firewalla aims to target the small at-home business niche.

Firewalla has a few different levels to fit your needs, and the good news is that any of the options can work in the right situations. They offer a red model for families and users who don’t need a lot of speed and a blue model designed for business users with much higher data pass-through speeds.

There’s also the option to pre-order Firewalla Gold, the company’s most recent multi-gigabyte system if you think you need a bit more protection for your at-home business. Firewalla includes well-rounded threat alerts, built-in VPN options, ad blocking, and many other important security features all bundled together.

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