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Use Case

Comparing Different Firewall Types

Firewalls are not a one-size-fits-all security solution for every business, and organizations must identify what firewall type is right for their network security needs.

A vital piece of the IT puzzle, firewalls protect your network from malicious attacks and other security issues. Our firewall type comparison will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each of the different types of firewalls and make it a bit easier to choose one that's best suited for your business.

Types of Firewalls to Consider

Firewalls act like a traffic cop for your network, letting the good go through and blocking the bad. When planning for the security of your corporate network, keep in mind that different firewalls each offer their own unique features and settings to accommodate the requirements of the corporate network.

A firewall comparison sheds light on the pros and cons of each type of firewall and illustrates how firewall features map back to company network requirements and the greatest security needs. Here are the main firewall types to consider.

Stateless Firewalls (Packet-Filtering)

Stateless firewalls tend to be one of the more entry-level firewalls, and sometimes run into difficulty differentiating between legitimate and undesired network communications. These firewalls look only at the packets and not the connections and traffic passing across the network. Despite somewhat lower security levels, these firewalls typically offer lower resource usage and higher performance speeds.

Stateful Inspection Firewalls

Stateful firewalls review and retain information about the traffic and packets passing over the network and make determinations about users and data based on findings as well as memory from previous experiences. These firewalls offer more robust security delivered with a higher toll on resources and slower speeds.

Circuit-Level Gateways

Circuit-level firewalls do not filter individual packets, but they excel at protecting their private network from traffic and keeping details private. These firewalls monitor TCP data packet handshaking and closely watch session adherence to the overarching rules of the firewall.

Proxy Firewalls (Application-Level Gateways)

As the most powerfully secure choice available, proxy firewalls serve as an intermediary where source computers connect to the proxy instead of the destination device. The proxy mirrors the information transfer, avoiding any direct connections and packet transfer in either direction. Some typical limitations affect performance such as the firewall's speed and functionality, as well as which applications are supported.

Next-Gen Firewalls

Next-gen firewalls offer application-level scrutiny, fortification against intrusion and intelligence beyond the firewall itself. These more advanced firewalls deliver the same benefits of traditional firewalls but also filter packets based on applications. Leveraging analysis, signature matching and keen visibility into applications, these firewalls can even block malware from breaching your network.

Firewall Features Comparison

When initiating a firewall features comparison to determine the best firewall options for your company's needs, it may help to put together a firewall comparison table. In this table, list out the features of each firewall as well as any pros and cons as you see them impacting your organization.

Pay close attention to the following key parameters when deciding on which firewall to choose:

  • Security Level
  • Definition of Rules
  • Blocks and Intruder Protection
  • Resource Usage
  • Performance Speed
  • Cost to Start and Maintain

Choosing a Firewall for a Small Business

When choosing between the different types of firewalls for your small business, keep in mind what's most important to you and your company. Telling you which firewall to buy without knowing key details about you network is like telling someone which haircut to get without seeing their facial features or knowing their preferences.

A number of firewalls can be a good fit for businesses of all sizes, depending on your needs. Consider these questions to guide your decision:

  • How important is high-speed functionality?
  • How many users do you currently have on the workforce?
  • Do you expect your business to scale in the near future?
  • What level of security is necessary to effectively protect your business network?

Some small businesses may not have a full-time system administrator to manage and troubleshoot the firewall. This may also factor into your decision, as an unmanaged firewall offers a less complex framework that typically runs as a convenient "plug-and-play" security solution. Still, managed firewalls are available in a plethora of flavors in so far as the controls go, with options for on-staff IT administrators as well as cloud-based remote support. The way you like to run your business will come into play extensively as you choose a firewall to protect your network and your technical assets.

Choosing a Firewall for an Enterprise

For a large corporation, an enterprise firewall comparison can help to narrow down the list of best-fitting firewalls for your company. Something to keep in mind with firewalls is that each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A highly secure proxy firewall loses performance in terms of speed and resource usage while the swift and smooth stateless firewall offers a much less robust handling of information packets crossing the firewall.

Here are a few steps to help you choose the most effective firewall for your business.

  1. Schedule a security risk assessmentLook at your assets, their value, any known threats and what specifically is at risk.
  2. Identify the most useful tech features of the firewall based on this information. Look for a system that blocks malware and other malicious attacks.
  3. Consider how your company might scale in the coming years. Maintain a future-focused approach to ensure you're never behind the eight-ball with your security or network and informational asset protection.

Generally, enterprise corporations will appreciate the vigorous security protocols of an application-layer inspection. Next-gen firewalls and proxy firewalls tend to offer this extensive level of protection and may therefore be a great choice for your enterprise network firewall.

After you choose a firewall, remember that you'll still need configuration to ensure your firewall gets up and running successfully. Managed IT services can provide full support to integrate all your devices with your network firewall. You might also consider the probability of attacks occurring along with system flaws and failures that could occur.

Understanding the different firewalls and their features will help you to pinpoint which type will best serve your company's network. Discover which kinds of firewalls may be best suited to addressing your business' needs by browsing top-performing models. Create a firewall appliance comparison chart to compare and contrast the available features and physical characteristics as well as the user count and general pros and cons.


Find the right firewall for your network security.

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