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:
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.
Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X ER-X
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. This particular EdgeRouter X ER-X requires a 25V passive PoE or power adapter, but also includes a passthrough PoE option to connect it to an airMAX device. In addition the five Gigabit Ethernet ports (including PoE in and PoE out), the EdgeRouter X uses the excellent EdgeMAX management system, which is simple enough even for smaller offices to pick up while providing security and device management that a growing company requires.
Ubiquiti’s firewall router 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.
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.
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.
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.
Start-ups and at-home businesses usually require additional security precautions. Sadly, the majority of firewall companies offer much more than you need to get by. However, Firewalla stands out from the crowd and targets small, at-home businesses.
Firewalla offers different levels for varying needs, with all of these options proving successful in the right circumstances. The red model is perfect for families and users who aren’t looking for super speed. In contrast, the blue model is a great option for businesses working with substantial amounts of data, and that need lightning-fast connections.
Firewalla recently rolled out its extremely protective, multi-gigabyte system Firewalla Gold upgrade, which you can pre-order if you desire the highest level of protection they have to offer. With Firewalla, you can receive threat alerts, block ads, browse through various built-in VPN options, and enjoy many other significant security features.
Palo Alto Networks NGFW
Palo Alto’s NGFW (Next Generation Firewall) solutions are particularly useful in today’s world thanks to its robust cloud-based operation that’s designed to be especially compatible with file-sharing online. More companies than ever are enabling remote work situations and switching to long-term work-from-home models, so it’s important to find the right firewall options that support this type of integrated network in a safe manner.
The NGFW solutions use site-to-site VPN tunnels that can connect to the cloud storage your company is using, so anything that gets passed between employees is protected, no matter where they are. If your company uses public clouds to offer services to customers, the solutions can also be used to add security there. Palo Alto software allows for nearly any arrangement that may be needed, including the ability to create workload types like container trust zones so that the right security can be applied to the right data, and everything is easily customized to your organization structure.
While the primary value of Palo Alto’s firewall is in this kind of versatile software, a variety of office-friendly NGFW devices are also available directly from the provider. Since Palo Alto is primarily focused on enterprise-level services, these devices aren’t really designed for a single small office. However, as companies build a growing network of employees and partners, cloud-centered protection like this could be exactly what they need.
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