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What is the Check Point Next-Generation Firewalls Alternatives?

Firewalls have been in common use as a security tool for all types of devices, but with the emergence of more sophisticated threats has emerged the need for better protection. Next-generation firewalls assist with this.

Not sure what an NGFW or Next-Generation FIrewall is? According to Gartner,

"An NGFW is a deep-packet inspection firewall that moves beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall."

Next-generation firewalls are built on the basic concept of the traditional firewalls you might have come across but are much more advanced, they are capable of both static and dynamic packet filtering to protect all the connections between your network, internet, and a firewall. Unlike traditional firewalls, NGFWs are also capable of filtering packets based on applications. They can use a variety of security measures to differentiate our safe applications from unsafe ones. Moreover, they can completely block malware from entering your network and are far more equipped to handle Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).

Check Point is one popular Next-Generation Firewall that you may come across. Checkpoint NGFW can be defined as

"a firewall that facilitates the safe usage of internet applications by successfully blocking malicious applications from compromising your network and letting safe applications through."

Check Point firewall offers a number of features for its users including application and user control, integrated intrusion prevention (IPS), and advanced threat protection capabilities such as sandboxing. Checkpoint claims its efforts are aimed to combat the fifth generation of cyber attacks with over 60 innovative security services.

Some notable features of the Check Point NGFW include

  • Comprehensive threat management via IPS, antivirus, application control, URL filtering, Sandbox Threat Emulation (sandboxing), etc.
  • Successful in preventing known and zero-day threats through its Sandblast Threat Extraction feature
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Identity Awareness
  • Anti-spam
  • VPN services

However if you're new to the technology or are a user but are looking for similar solutions, it may help to check out some of the most popular next-generation firewalls which act as alternatives to Check Point NGFW. These differ on the basis of the features they offer, their integration and deployment, their support, and their specific capabilities. You may have even come across these alternatives; some popular mentions include Zenarmor (Sensei), Palo Alto, Sophos, etc.

Here we'll be discussing some of the top alternatives to the Check Point Next-Generation Firewall you should be considering, their features and what sets them apart from Check Point NGFW.

Checkpoint NGFW alternatives

Figure 1. What are the alternatives of Checkpoint NGFW

1. Zenarmor (Sensei)

The first on our list is Zenarmor (Sensei). Zenarmor Next-Generation Firewall stands out primarily due to its deployability i.e. it can be deployed on any platform be it virtual, cloud-based, or appliance-based. This is because it is a software-based instant firewall.

Zenarmor was designed by Sunny Valley Networks as plugin that can add deep packet inspection capabilities to the OPNsense firewall and more advanced functionality.

Here are some of the notable features of the Zenarmor Next-Generation firewall:

How does Zenarmor differ from Check Point NGFW? Many people prefer Zenarmor due to its flexible pricing (and affordability). Most Check Point firewall appliances range from $499 to a few hundred thousand dollars. Zemarmor is much much cheaper, it has a free basic version you can choose while its paid version starts from $9.99/month - best suited for non-commercial use, the SOHO package at $39/month - best suited for small offices and the Business package at $50/month - best suited to larger enterprises. The free version itself has plenty of useful features and is a great way to test out the software before you go for the paid version.

2. G2 Deals

Next on our list, we'll be sharing a useful tool with you to quickly get the information you need on technologies around the world. G2 is one of the largest software marketplaces worldwide where people around the world can get legitimate unbiased reviews on software solutions, tools, and technology.

You can search their website for any Next-Generation firewall and get real-time reviews in an instant. G2 also shares useful features of the software, what you can expect, product information, and a general overview. They also provide details on pricing for each software and their associated reviews, You can also compare one software with the next to see how it performs against its competitors.

Over 60 million people visit the G2 website each year to add their authentic reviews on products listed, you'll find a total of over 1,500,000 reviews listed on the website so far. The aim here is to help individuals like you make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing software or, in this case, a Next-Generation firewall. (The best part? It's completely free!)

3. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall

Barracuda defines its Next-Generation firewall as

"Barracuda CloudGen Firewall belongs to a family of hardware, virtual, and cloud-based appliances that protect and enhance your dispersed network infrastructure."

Cloud-based networks and applications are on the rise and with them comes the risk of cybersecurity breaches. You can use Barracuda, a cloud-based firewall to protect your vital business assets from compromise. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is capable of protecting your digital assets against intrusions, malware, DoS attacks, and advanced persistent threats. You can control the entire system through a cloud-based interface easily, which provides you with real-time updates on the latest threats.

Here are some of the notable features the Barracuda CloudGen firewall carries:

  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Botnet and Spyware Protection
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention
  • Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Protection
  • Malware Protection
  • SSL Interception
  • Stateful Deep Packet Inspection Firewall
  • Single-Pass Architecture
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Auto VPN
  • Application Control
  • User Identity Awareness
  • Web Filtering

Barracuda Next-Generation firewall holds a number of firewall security features that can help successfully protect your sensitive assets from compromise. However, compared to Check Point firewall its user interface is not as easy to navigate. The software is a bit advanced for beginners and can be time-consuming to understand. However, it does come with a free trial so you can always test it out before you move on to their paid version.

4. Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall

Palo Alto Next-Generation Firewall provides you with complete visibility and control of your network using a number of security measures including traffic identification, malware protection, and threat intelligence technologies. While most firewalls only identify port and protocol when filtering traffic, Palo Alto Networks NGFW offers more advanced security tools which allow you to identify which applications, users or content passing through your network is safer and which is a threat.

Here are some of the features of the Palo Alto Next-Generation Firewall:

  • Visibility into applications, users, and content traversing your network so you can quickly identify any threats.
  • User visibility; see who is using the applications on your network, set policies based on users.
  • DoS and DDoS attack protection.
  • Data filtering and file blocking (blocking out unapproved/dangerous file types)
  • WildFire, a malware protection feature that makes use of machine learning in combination with various analysis methods to detect advanced threats and unknown threats (zero-day attacks).
  • DNS security includes signature-based protection, URL filtering and successfully blocking malicious domains.
  • Antivirus and network-based malware protection.
  • Panorama Security Management - a centralized management console for your firewall.

When it comes to enterprise-level protection, Palo Alto and Check Point NGFW are top contenders, both have incredible features that can keep your systems secure. Moreover, both are equally priced. However, Check Point NGFW is better suited for enterprises looking for a more broad approach to cybersecurity in complex environments whereas Palo Alto's are better suited where features, management, and performance are given priority.

5. pfSense Software

pfSense software is an open-source firewall and router software that provides comprehensive network security solutions to its users, including large and small businesses, and growing networks. You can install the open-source firewall onto a physical computer or virtual machine to have your own dedicated firewall or router with an incredibly easy-to-use web interface.

pfSense software is often referred to offer stateful packet inspection (SPI), a feature that allows for dynamic packet filtering, individually tracking sessions of networks traversing it.

Here are some of the features that make pfSense software a popular NGFW solution:

  • Stateful packet inspection (SPI)
  • GeoIP blocking (block web traffic from certain countries)
  • Anti-Spoofing (detect packets with false addresses)
  • Policy-based routing
  • Intrusion Detection Systems(IDS) & Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
  • Snort based packet analyzer (to monitor real-time traffic)
  • Deep packet inspection (DPI)
  • Application blocking
  • VPN
  • SSL encryption
  • URL Filtering, content filtering, anti-virus filtering, content screening

Many users prefer pfSense software over Check Point NGFW because pfSense software is more flexible (open-source driven), is easily deployable on cloud or on-premise, and provides the support most growing businesses or large business enterprises need. One of the biggest reasons why users prefer pfSense software is that it will cost you no money at all, it is free software that can be used by anyone.

6. Cisco Meraki

Cisco Meraki Next-Generation firewall provides administrators complete control of users, applications, and content crossing over into their network. One of the greatest benefits of these firewalls is that you can choose which applications you want to let in and which ones you'd want to block, in this way you can stock potential threats from compromising your network successfully. Moreover, while traditional firewalls can not classify traffic at layer 7, many threats pass through; Meraki's layer 7 classification and control prevent this from happening.

Here are some of the features you can expect to find in the Cisco Meraki firewall:

  • Identity-Based Firewall
  • Content Filtering
  • Advanced malware protection
  • Antivirus and phishing control
  • Automatic Updates
  • Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention
  • Industry Best Encryption Security
  • Automatic VPN
  • High Availability & Failover
  • Application Visibility & Control
  • Centralized Management Dashboard

Now if we compare Cisco Meraki with Check Point NGFW both are appliance-based firewall/hardware firewall solutions that can be deployed at an enterprise level, home level or for small businesses. However Cisco is far cheaper than Check Point NGFW, with pricing usually starting from $40, moreover, you can avail a free trial to test out the services. Moreover, Cisco Meraki is far easier to set up and use as opposed to Check Point NGFW.

7. WatchGuard Network Security

Watchguard is a network security services provider that helps small-medium businesses and larger enterprises secure their assets from network compromise. They aim to "adapt to new evolving threats" at a much faster rate than other service providers. Their Next-Generation firewall is built using the same concept. To deliver ease of use, ease of deployment, and ease of management.

Watchguard offers two high-performance platforms as a part of their NGFW series, the XTM

1050 and the XTM 2050. However, both come with nearly similar specifications.

Here are some of the features Watchguard NGFW carries:

  • Stateful Packet Inspection, Deep App Inspection, Proxy Firewall
  • Blocks spyware
  • Prevents DoS attacks, fragmented & malformed packets
  • Tackles blended threats
  • Application Control
  • Intrusion Prevention Service
  • Gateway AntiVirus
  • Reputation Enabled Defense
  • spamBlocker, WebBlocker
  • Logging, and reporting server support

Both Watchguard and CheckPoint NGFWs are on the expensive side of firewalls. However, WatchGuard firewalls are a lot easier to configure and work with as opposed to Checkpoint NGFW. Moreover, they have nearly similar features as well but again Watchguard's ease of use makes it stand out.

8. FortiGate NGFW

Fortinet is a supplier of integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, Fortigate Next-Generation firewalls are one of their creations. According to Fortinet, their Next-Generation FIrewall aims to offer you comprehensive security measures whilst maintaining your network performance. Their firewall platforms are "end-to-end" security providers, meaning that you only require one security solution for all your virtual, on-premises, and cloud deployments.

Here's what you can expect from the FortiGate NGFW

  • Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention
  • Application and user visibility
  • High-performance SSL inspection
  • Unknown threat detection
  • Cloud-based sandboxing services
  • Real-time views on network activity
  • Policy-based controls

Both CheckPoint and FortiGate have similar security features including SSL inspection and IPS. It is usually mentioned that you should select the firewall you need according to your needs and preferences, but if you want a slightly less expensive option you should consider going for FortiGate firewalls.

9. Sophos Firewall

Sophos is a Next-Generation firewall solution built for both hardware deployment and virtual or cloud-based deployments. It is a solution geared for small and medium-sized businesses, whereas enterprise-level businesses can also benefit from the services.

Here's a quick rundown of the features Sophos firewall has:

  • Deep packet inspection (DIP)
  • TLS inspection
  • Zero-day threat and ransomware instant identification and threat management
  • Next-generation cloud sandbox technology
  • Web protection
  • Advanced threat protection
  • User identity-based policies
  • Complete application control
  • Complete web traffic visibility and control
  • Content control
  • Email protection, anti-spam, phishing and data loss protection.

Sophos firewall comes with numerous security features you can use, moreover it is far more user-friendly than Checkpoint NGFW. You'll also be pleased to know that you can avail of their free trial before you move on to a paid package.

10. Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Virtual

The final one on our list is the Cisco Next-Generation virtual firewall, like other Next-Generation firewalls, you can expect to get integrated security packed into one software to help safeguard your network environments. They deliver the flexibility of deployment, since it is a virtual type of firewall you can use it anywhere across a wide range of environments.

Here are the notable features of Cisco's Next-Generation Firewall:

  • Centralized configuration, monitoring, and overall management
  • Application visibility and control
  • IP, URL, and DNS threat intelligence
  • Malware defense and Malware analytics sandboxing
  • URL filtering
  • IPS signature updates

The reason why many businesses prefer the virtual Next-Generation firewall is its centralized management across a range of environments, a need for today's dynamic work environments. Since this software is uniquely built to support virtual deployment, it is more streamlined and user-friendly in this regard.

What Should Be Considered While Choosing Check Point Alternatives?

Choosing the right firewall for your network security is a crucial decision, one that shouldn't be taken lightly. You should always do your research on the alternatives available in the market beforehand and consider your unique needs. At the end of the day, you simply want to make a more informed decision.

Consider the following when you choose a Check Point NGFW alternative:

  • What is the pricing of the alternative, is it worth the costs, also consider the budget you have planned in mind.
  • How easily manage-able is the NGFW, a centralized console is always easier to manage and optimize capabilities.
  • Check the interoperability of your NGFW with your other security tools and existing infrastructure.
  • Take a look at the features the alternative provides, be on the lookout for key features your business can make use of.
  • Choose a firewall that is scalable, that can grow to meet your company's demands
  • Consider where the firewall can be deployed, is it appliance-based or software-based? You can save costs by investing in a software-based alternative or if you're a larger company you may want to have dedicated hardware-based firewalls.

What are the Best Check Point Firewall Alternatives for Enterprises?

Out of the ten alternatives we've listed, some are better suited for larger businesses and enterprises whereas others are best suited to small business usage. Here are the best CheckPoint firewall alternatives you can make use of in large enterprises.

  1. Zenarmor: Zenarmor has a wide range of features you should definitely add to your enterprise security setup. If you're looking for multiple layers of visibility into your traffic, robust security then Zenarmor is a great fit.
  2. Fortinet Fortigate: Fortinet Fortigate has a number of incredible features that make it stand out among enterprises and growing businesses. The reason is that while they do provide plenty of features, they are a lot more budget-friendly than their close competitors. Moreover, their GUI is incredibly user-friendly and easy to deploy.
  3. Cisco Meraki: Cisco Meraki has been listed as an "end-to-end" solution, which means that you can cover all aspects of your security management from one focal point. Enterprises that cover a wide range of environments or have plenty of departments to oversee can benefit from such a centralized management dashboard. Meraki can be managed from nearly anywhere, is scalable, and is easy to deploy making it a pretty viable option.

What are the Best Check Point Firewall Alternatives for Small Businesses?

Moving on, you'll also be wondering which alternatives would better suit small-medium businesses. Luckily for you, we've also rooted out some of the best alternatives that you can make use of in your small business:

  1. Zenarmor: As mentioned earlier, small businesses can benefit from virtual firewalls that do not require highly maintained hardware to set up a secure network. This is why many small businesses prefer Zenarmor.
  2. Sophos: Sophos is another unified threat management solution that can easily be deployed either on the cloud, via hardware, or software. Moreover, Sophos firewalls are a lot more affordable than other firewall solutions you'd get for enterprises but carry many of the advanced features you might be looking for.
  3. Watchguard Network Security: Watchguard has some pretty neat products when it comes to NGFWs. Their products are scalable, and can easily be upgraded to meet emerging tech in addition to your current setup. Moreover, they provide a broad range of enterprise-level network security services that are easy to deploy. You'll also benefit from the centralized management that allows you to seamlessly configure your firewall.