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Best Hardware Firewalls for Home and Small Business Networks

A hardware firewall is a physical apparatus or device that is used to protect and monitor a network. All of the network links and as well as the traffic coming in and out of this boundary will need to pass through the firewall, which puts it in the position to inspect all incoming and outgoing traffic over the network and make sure that policies are set in place are keeping things secure.

Without having security at a border, anyone and everyone will be able to breach and do whatever they like. Computer networks work in a sort of the same way. You need to put in place proper security measures and ensure that the traffic both inbound and outbound is legitimate and free from any sort of malicious intent.

These days with the growing threats that individuals have on the internet, it is safe to say that having some form of protection over the network is key to online security. Firewalls are a relatively cheap solution that provides security without necessarily having to invest a huge deal in infrastructure.

Businesses like individuals are at the forefront of online threats and at the mercy of hackers. To prevent loss to the business and to protect the interest of their customers having sound online security is key. The right hardware firewalls for a small business network will take into consideration things like the size of the business, its security needs as well as the budget.

What are the Best Hardware Firewalls for Home Network Use?‚Äč

The last thing that someone working remotely from home or even an average user would want is for their password to be compromised leaving them exposed to a hacking attempt, or all sorts of malicious software making their way to their devices. Despite taking all sorts of precautions, hackers can still gain access to your network and infect your devices.

It can be nerve-wracking for an average user to worry about potential data breaches and how a cyber attack or any sort of malware can affect an entire household. But thankfully, firewalls designed for the home provide a simple plug-and-play alternative.

People can buy hardware firewalls for their homes that will at least give them a baseline of security that they can rely on. The thing about hardware firewalls is that they are easy to use and a lot of them have limited installation steps and configuration details. This also allows the average user to get a better idea of the device they are using as well as utilize a firewall device without paying for installation fees.

Best Hardware Firewalls for SMB and Home Users

Figure 1. What are the best firewalls for home users and small business owners

Here are some of the best hardware firewalls that you can use for your home network:

1. pfSense SG-2100‚Äč

The SG-2100 is a security gateway appliance that is coupled with pfSense software¬ģ to provide relatively decent functionality and performance for its size and class. The pfSense SG-2100 is a good choice for home networks and fits well with people working from home as well as smaller business networks that need added security.

In terms of features, the SG-2100 features a dual-core ARM Cortex A53 1.2 GHz CPU, a 1 dedicated GbE WAN port, 4 x 1 GbE Marvell switch ports, 4 GB of fast DDR4 RAM, and must-have upgradeable storage.

Performance-wise the SG-2100 with pfSense has a 2.20 Gbps router, 964 Mbps firewall, and a 254 Mbps IPsec VPN. These are respectable performance results given that the device is compact and easy to store away. It also has an attractive GUI that you can use to configure the device and set it according to your liking.

The pfSense SG-2100 from Netgate costs around $350 and you can purchase an extended warranty as per your need. For a home network, the SG-2100 is an economical solution that takes care of your internet security needs without breaking the bank. It is also easy to set up and comes with a quick setup guide that an average user can follow and start using the tool asap.

The only thing that you might want to do for pfSense SG-2100 is to check the latest reviews on different vendor websites. This just helps you to get an idea of the feedback that the product has received as well as ensure that you are making the right buying decision.

2. WatchGuard Firebox Model T15‚Äč

The WatchGuard Firebox T15 is a brilliant solution that is designed to take on the needs of large-scale organizations or if the need arises, to take care of remote workers at home. The T series from WatchGuard is designed to manage things in a centralized manner, giving you full control of how you are going to use the device and the sort of security you want to enable.

The good thing about the WatchGuard Firebox T15 is that it can easily be deployed anywhere that a network is connected and provides much-needed surveillance and security. The device can also be connected to the cloud which means that you can securely download the configuration settings and set up the device yourself without needing trained staff or outsourcing this task to an external vendor.

In terms of performance, you can expect a 120Mbps Firewall and a 46 Mbps VPN. These are very good performance metrics since the device is relatively affordable and is compact at the same time. You can also use the WatchGuard Firebox T15 as you scale and grow your usage at home.

A new device costs around $400 which is a bit more expensive than previous entries on this list. But given how the device has a lot of functionality and convenience to offer, the tradeoff can be justified for an appropriate use case.

3. Bitdefender BOX‚Äč

You can think of the Bitdefender BOX as an enhanced router that can be used in place or be used with your present home networking setup. You can connect your devices to the BOX and it acts as a firewall, which helps to monitor inbound connections as well as ward off any hackers that are in search of an unprepared user. Thanks to the Bitdefender BOX, your home network can be monitored for unknown devices and also keep an eye on any suspicious behavior.

In terms of features, the BOX offers device detection, remote device management, instant notifications, phishing, and fraud protection, safe browsing, vulnerability assessment for your home network as well as brute force protection just to name a few. The Bitdefender BOX is also accompanied by an app that any home user can easily use to control and manage things.

The Bitdefender BOX is also priced at a very reasonable price point at around $250. It is certainly not the cheapest firewall solution available on the market today, but for the wealth of features it brings and the ease of use, you can consider using this for your home network.

4. Mikrotik hEX RB750Gr3‚Äč

The Mikrotik hEX RB750Gr3 is essentially an ethernet router that has 5 ports. It is supposed to be used in scenarios where there is not a need for wireless connectivity. Let's say that you are at home and working from a fixed desktop, then it is a solid option.

The thing to note about the Mikrotik hEX is that it is super affordable. You can find one for around $70 and you will be able to use it without having to install any sort of OS since it already has a built-in OS.

The major flaw with the Mikrotik hEX is that you will probably need another dedicated firewall device to give you decent protection. You will still be covered, but that coverage will be very limited if compared with a dedicated firewall device or a dedicated firewall solution.

5. Zyxel Next Generation VPN Firewall‚Äč

The Zyxel Next Generation VPN Firewall is first and foremost a high-performance firewall. At the same time, it also helps to provide a reliable and efficient network. Security and home network safety concerns can easily be met with the Zyxel VPN Firewall since it protects these by establishing secure communications between two or multiple remote sites, connecting different VPNs, and maintaining data security.

It has a variety of features including enterprise-class security, advanced home networking, and security features like traffic filtering, security profile sync, as well as SecuReporter. These help to improve security by blocking access to spam or blacklisted websites, along with controlled access with an integrated firewall policy for highly specific blocking and filtering. This helps to create a unified firewall solution for all sorts of networks.

The Zyxel Next Generation VPN Firewall is a decent option in terms of price but for an average user that just wants to have a firewall for their home network, they can be a little overwhelmed by the number of features available. However, more advanced users might find the additional features to be more convenient.

6. CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall‚Äč

CUJO AI plays the role of a firewall by being an internet security gateway between your smart devices on your home network and the internet. CUJO AI analyzes your traffic and matches it with commercial internet security threat feeds and ensures that unauthorized or spam IPs can't come into contact with your wired and wireless home network.

CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall also offers much-needed features like AI algorithms to protect your home network, has an easy-to-use UI and UX, and also allows parents to set time limits for their children. Another feature to note about the device is that it is fast since it's built with a 1 GB ethernet. Regardless of the OS, you have put on your devices, the CUJO AI will protect your device from online harm.

One major thing that you have to keep in mind if you are opting for the CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall is that it has been discontinued and no other replacement has been announced. This means that the device has limited support and might be outdated and prone to security risks in the future. Using such a device might not be an ideal solution as you are using a firewall to protect your network. If that primary purpose is not being fulfilled, then it might be a better idea to switch to an alternative firewall alternative.

The CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall is easy to use. All you need to do is connect the device to your home router and use the CUJO AI app to follow the simple setup steps. The procedure is seamless and takes only minutes to set up and run.

What are the Best Hardware Firewalls for Small Business Network Use?‚Äč

Small businesses have to interact with highly personal information including financial records, social security numbers, location data, etc. It's of the utmost importance for a business's trust and reputation to keep this and all sorts of information safe. This is because small businesses are at the top of the list for malicious actors. A secure firewall is the first step in ensuring a baseline of security.

When choosing a hardware firewall for a small business network you need to consider not only the needs of your team but also need to consider the costs associated with choosing a business solution, while also keeping your budget into consideration.

Here are some hardware firewalls that you can consider using for your small business network needs:

1. OPNsense‚Äč

OPNsense is an open-source firewall that is based on FreeBSD-based routing software developed by Deciso. It is a fork of pfSense and has seen fair success over the years.

In terms of features, you can expect to get a solid firewall solution, VPN to ensure privacy over the network, intrusion detection/prevention (IDS/IPS) and counters for viruses like trojans, completely integrated web filtering, two-factor authentication as well as easy to use interface for the average user.

OPNsense also provides a variety of security plugins. One of the best OPNsense plugins is Zenarmor(os-sensei) allows security administrators to run their OPNsense firewalls with next-generation firewall capabilities, such as web filtering, application control, cloud threat intelligence, etc.

The team for OPNsense is active which means that you will be able to get the latest patches and have access to better and more timely security solutions as soon as they are available. OPNsense offers a variety of hardware solutions listed below at different price points. So any user can make a better decision based on their need for a firewall as well as their budget.

  • DEC600 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Desktop Security Appliances
  • DEC700 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Desktop Security Appliances
  • DEC800 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Desktop Security Appliances
  • DEC2600 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Rack Security Appliances
  • DEC2700 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Rack Security Appliances
  • DEC3800 Series - OPNsense¬ģ Rack Security Appliances

2. FortiGate 30E‚Äč

FortiGate 30E helps to reduce the complexity and maximize a business's ROI by incorporating threat protection capabilities into a single network security appliance. FortiGate 30E is driven by Fortinet's Security Processing Unit (SPU) and helps give the business full visibility into users, business devices, applications across the entire network as well as a consistent security policy enforcement irrespective of a device's asset location.

FortiGate 30E also helps to protect against potential vulnerabilities in the network with low latency and an optimized network performance which is essential for individual users and businesses alike. It is a great choice for small businesses that are looking to enhance their security infrastructure and optimize their security infrastructure without

FortiGate 30E automatically blocks any manner of threats on decrypted traffic using SSL inspection performance with mandated ciphers. FortiGate 30E also helps to secure businesses from evolving threats by proactively blocking newly identified attacks with AI as well as providing advanced threat protection services.

3. Cisco Meraki MX64W‚Äč

The Cisco Meraki MX64W wireless firewall is an ideal solution if you have less than or around 50 staff that need to connect a network. It has a stateful firewall throughput of 250 Mbps which makes it a good choice for any small business that has to cater to the needs of its team.

Small business solutions like the Meraki MX64W offer cloud-based management with additional security features including content filtering, advanced malware protection, and an automated VPN configuration for when you want to protect and give an additional layer of privacy to your outbound web connections.

Cisco Meraki MX64W is dual-band and dual concurrent at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It can support up to 4 SSIDs and also has active directory integration. Layer 7 application visibility, Auto VPN, and traffic shaping are some of the additional features that make this a good option for your business.

Cisco Meraki offers larger and more capable routing solutions that can support increased connections as well as have support for extra SSIDs. All services and solutions by Meraki also come with support for USB modem connections for 3G/4G connectivity just in case your business's standard internet connection fails.

4. WatchGuard Firebox T15‚Äč

As we have previously discussed the WatchGuard Firebox T15 for the home network, we will also consider the option for small business networks. Without a doubt, it is a solid product and with the right upgrades and choice, it can be an asset for any small business that wants to be secured without breaking the bank.

The WatchGuard Firebox T15 offers a unique product architecture that allows smaller businesses to leverage security measures like URL filtering, data loss prevention, app control, and intrusion prevention, to name a few. Not only that but it does this without using multiple single-point solutions that are tedious to manage and costly in the long run.

The WatchGuard Firebox comes with a cloud-based RapidDeploy technology. It's a configuration and deployment tool that allows your IT team to create and preserve configuration data over the Cloud.

While smaller businesses can make full use of this technology, it is specifically of interest to larger enterprise clients that are distributed and face the challenge of managing multiple devices with peak efficiency across multiple locations.

WatchGuard Dimension has a suite of big data visibility and reporting tools that identify and counter critical network security threats, issues, and trends in real-time. This gives the business enough time to take the appropriate course of action and alert its staff.

5. SonicWall NSA series‚Äč

Small businesses need to be able to counter advanced threats that require an advanced and dedicated firewall solution built specifically for businesses. The SonicWall Network Security Appliance (NSA) Mid-Range Firewall is an ideal choice for small and mid-sized businesses of around 250 staff as it is a next-generation security solution.

With the SonicWall NSA, you will make sure that your business is well protected against the most common threats as well as things like firewall breaches, ransomware, and other multifaceted attacks. It is based on cloud technology and is designed for centralized management which helps keep things straightened for business and legal reasons.

The SonicWall series is ideal for a number of reasons. They are keeping up with the times and have safeguards in place to protect remote workers, real-time threat detection with RTDMI, a built-in wireless controller for ease of use as well as overall lower costs for management and installation. Another thing that the SonicWall series has to offer is easy management, analytics, reporting, and licensing.

The SonicWall NSA series is based on the cloud and comes with features like TLS/SSL inspection and decryption, app intelligence and control, secure SD-WAN and management, real-time threats and data visualization, etc. The SonicWall series is flexible, speedy, and can help you save on costs for your business without compromising the security of the business.

How to Choose a Hardware Firewall?‚Äč

Choosing the right hardware firewall can be challenging given the number of options available on the market. With varying price points as well as growing cyber threats, the compromise between security and budget constraints.

When choosing a firewall you need to be able to apply policies to certain end-users and allow access to those who need it to the applications in use. A more modern firewall can see and manage all of the applications as well as personal information on the network. The firewall you choose should also be able to limit traffic as well as cyber threats to the network by only allowing approved apps to be used. Firewalls should also have the bare minimum security infrastructure built-in like anti-virus, spam filtering, DPI (deep packet inspection), and app filtering to name a few.

Price and budget is obviously a primary concern for any individual or business. Modern hardware firewalls are affordable for most use cases. This costing is with regards to the costs associated with any sort of cyberattack and the harm it could bring to the business or even at an individual scale.