Why is it critical to know and implement the best firewalls for small businesses? Well, cybercrime in information technology development has reached new heights, and according to Cybersecurity Ventures, the damage it causes to the online landscape is forecasted to grow to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Phishing, malware, account takeover, credential abuse, ransomware, cryptojacking, and zillions of other severe cyber security attacks are commonplace these days. Since the amount of threats is constantly increasing, the cost of a data breach has earned a king's ransom.
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks as they often lack high-end training and security resources to defend against cybercrimes. For this reason, using reliable firewalls is crucial for keeping customer and company data safe and secure.
This article will help you learn the nuts and bolts of firewalls. You will also get a clear overview of the best firewalls for small businesses to pick the most suitable option to safeguard your network.
Why are firewalls important for small businesses?
Cyberattacks put a company's reputation, assets, data, and information technology equipment at risk, and, what's more, they also affect other connected enterprises that are part of the supply chain, causing a domino effect.
Hacking a business network results in severe damage to data and systems, as cybercriminals can easily access company banking information, client credit card details, company intellectual property, etc.
Consequently, small businesses often shut down after experiencing financial losses, spending time and resources on eliminating cyber threats and adjusting the network, and losing customer trust due to compromising sensitive data. That is why protecting your business against cybercrimes should be a top priority.
To address the elephant in the room, double-check the third parties you work with, opt for robust antivirus software, secure your business Wi-Fi network, and limit the number of people who have access to the company's critical data.
In addition, you can also familiarize your employees with cyber security, black-hat activities that can cause severe damage to your systems, and come up with an action plan to keep company data safe. In line with this, your employees should maintain password hygiene, recognize fishy emails or attachments, avoid malicious software downloads, etc.
What's more, make sure your staff exercises caution during web surfing sessions and utilizes only trusted and secure websites for browsing. To help your employees be confident about sites they leave their personal data or company information on, encourage running a full website audit highlighting the most critical site security issues related to secure encryption protocol for user data protection.
And most importantly, look through the best firewalls for small businesses to deploy a potent firewall software for your company. Such a tool aims to proactively defend your network and block unauthorized traffic that can potentially cause damage. Simply put, firewalls allow you to prevent hacker attacks and save your business from the above deplorable scenarios.
Essential types of firewalls
There are five primary types of firewall software: packet filtering, stateful inspection, circuit-level gateway, next-generation, and proxy service firewalls.
Packet-filtering firewalls or stateless inspection firewalls are static firewall software performing basic filtering at the network layer by analyzing individual data packets sent across the network according to their destination and source.
Stateful inspection firewalls
Stateful inspection firewalls function at the transport level and allow establishing of diligent rules that match particular conditions. They can track and memorize the ongoing and previous connections and therefore don't need the re-approval for each data packet.
Circuit-level gateway firewalls
Another type of firewall software is the circuit-level gateway firewall. It performs at the session level and concentrates on defending user datagram protocols (UDPs) and transmission control protocols (TCPs). Such firewalls help to track handshaking between data packets from trusted servers, clients, and untrusted hosts.
Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs)
Next-generation firewalls are threat-specific, multilayer firewalls combining the features of other common firewalls with additional security devices and software. Such robust functionality allows NGFWs to inspect and determine advanced malware and other complex threats in detail to conduct data analysis on a granular level.
Proxy service firewalls
Proxy firewalls, also called application-layer gateway firewalls, filter packets and read application protocols, providing advanced protection at the application layer. Proxy firewall security software provides complete control over network traffic.
10 best firewalls for small business
Small businesses have unique pricing, setup, features, and installation requests when seeking dedicated firewall software. Below you can find the top ten best firewalls for small businesses to help you decide on a trustworthy solution for enhanced cyber security.
1. Cisco Firepower 1000 Series
Cisco Firepower 1000 Series is a branch of Cisco Secure Firewall, representing simple yet robust next-generation firewall security software with threat-blocking features tailored for mid-sized and small businesses.
The firewall offers integrated VPN and IPS, boasts seamless deployment and configuration, and allows you to build security resilience.
The pfSense is a firewall that is free as an open-source software option. However, you should pay to use it as a cloud solution or implement the firewall with a Netgate appliance.
There are four suitable options for small businesses — Netgate 1100, Netgate 2100, Netgate 4100, and Netgate 6100. But if you need an ultimate choice, go for Netgate 6100, which includes a security gateway and flexible port configurations.
3. SonicWall TZ Series
SonicWall TX Series is a suite of firewall security software providing enterprise-grade protection for branch locations and small businesses from ransomware, malware, or intrusion.
SonicWall TX Series firewalls offer deep memory inspection, advanced threat prevention, straightforward firewall management and reporting, and zero-touch deployment.
Sophos small business firewall software offers advanced threat prevention and allows you to deploy the firewall as a cloud solution, hardware option, or dedicated software.
Furthermore, the firewall grants access to a neat cyber security cloud management platform, which allows you to get centralized firewall management and reporting.
5. Palo Alto Networks PA-400 Series
PA-400 Series firewall by Palo Alto Networks is a next-generation firewall software empowered by machine learning and designed for small businesses. It offers straightforward firewall management, streamlined onboarding, and reasonable pricing.
Palo Alto Networks PA-400 Series firewall software provides inline malicious file inspection and blocking, guarantees zero-delay signatures to protect your network from threats, and enables complete IoT and OT device identification to know who enters your company network.
6. Fortinet FortiGate
FortiGate is a next-gen small business firewall software that offers cost-effective protection, easy and seamless deployment, and outstanding performance. The entry-level FortiGate NGFWs of 40F, 60F, 70F, and 80F series are perfect for small businesses.
And if you need an optimal solution with top threat protection, opt for FortiGate FortiWiFi 80F Series. The firewall allows you to establish proper defense for multiple devices across your network regardless of the device location.
7. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall
CloudGen Firewall by Barracuda Networks is a next-generation firewall available as a hardware solution, a cloud network security, or a virtual firewall. The F180B configuration of CloudGen is suitable for small businesses.
The Barracuda CloudGen Firewall guarantees high-end malware, botnet, and spyware protection, advanced defense against threats, instant intrusion detection, and much more.
8. WatchGuard Firebox
WatchGuard Firebox is an all-in-one firewall solution by WatchGuard Network Security. It stands for unified threat management and therefore comes in tabletop, rack-mount, and virtual or cloud options to fit businesses of different industries and sizes.
Although WatchGuard has a line of solutions for SMBs, pay precise attention to M290 and M390 models, as they are designed to safeguard all types of small businesses, providing the utmost security at every layer.
9. Perimeter 81
Perimeter 81 offers a firewall as a service without any hardware required. You don't need any extra appliances, as the magic happens in the cloud. The platform guarantees complete network visibility, full traffic encryption, DNS filtering, straightforward network segmentation, and granular defense against breaches.
Firewall as a service from Perimeter 81 delivers multilayered network and data protection, easy firewall configuration and maintenance, IP whitelisting, safe remote access, and plenty of other features.
Firewalla is a third-party hardware firewall, so you should complement it with pre-installed additional software. As per Firewalla's product selection guide, the Purple SE, Purple, and Gold firewall packages are suitable for small businesses.
In addition to protection against malware, this small business firewall provides content filtering options for monitored and controlled access to business networks.
The current cyber security landscape has forced small business owners to look for high-end and reliable solutions that have enough power to shield business networks and defend company and customer data.
Firewalls are almighty tools that make protection against cyber attacks and malicious traffic not only possible but effective. So, choose the most suitable software from the above list of the best firewalls for small business and empower your information security strategy.