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12 Best Firewall Software Shortlist

After assessing numerous tools, I've curated the 12 best firewall software:

  1. GlassWire - Best for visualizing network activity
  2. VyOS - Best for flexibility in a network router
  3. Stormshield Network Security (SNS) - Best for European cybersecurity standards
  4. IPFire - Best for modularity in firewall solutions
  5. Firewalld - Best for Linux system administrators
  6. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall - Best for integrated cloud network protection
  7. Arista - Best for adaptive network security scaling
  8. pfSense - Best for open-source network security
  9. Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall - Best for advanced threat prevention
  10. Check Point Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) - Best for multi-layered protection
  11. Fortinet Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) - Best for scaling security infrastructure
  12. Sophos Firewall - Best for synchronized security response

In the digital age dominated by hackers, cyberattacks, and data breaches, firewall software stands as the sentry between our devices and threats. It's more than just antivirus protection; it's a sophisticated security system designed for every operating system - be it Microsoft, Mac, or Android. This tool vigilantly monitors IP addresses, ensuring that phishing, ransomware, trojans, and spyware can't breach your private network. With stateful inspection, advanced firewall mechanisms, intrusion prevention systems, and even options like a free version for preliminary testing, it's about ensuring a secure digital environment.

What Is Firewall Software?

Firewall software is a digital sentinel designed to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security policies. Acting as a barrier between a trusted internal network and potentially untrusted external networks, such as the Internet, it's a critical tool for both businesses and individuals.

While companies deploy firewalls to protect sensitive data, prevent unauthorized access, and ensure regulatory compliance, individuals use them to guard against cyber threats, shield personal information, and maintain privacy in their online endeavors. The importance of such a tool? It's like having a relentless guard, ever-watchful, keeping threats at bay while optimizing bandwidth and ensuring your antivirus software can function without overwhelming interruptions.

Overviews of the 12 Best Firewall Software

1. GlassWire - Best for visualizing network activity

GlassWire Firewall Software
See what's happening on your devices in real time with GlassWire's firewall and network monitor.

GlassWire isn’t just another firewall protection; it’s a guardian that paints a clear picture of your network's heartbeat. Visualizing your network activity is critical, not only for understanding what's happening but also for spotting anomalies – and this is where GlassWire shines.

Why I Picked GlassWire:

When selecting tools for this list, GlassWire immediately caught my attention. It's not every day that I find a tool where aesthetics meet functionality so effectively. Through rigorous comparison and judging its presentation of network data, I determined GlassWire was a cut above the rest. I have a firm opinion that visualization aids understanding, which is why I believe GlassWire is the best for those who prioritize a visual grasp of their network activities.

Standout features & integrations:

GlassWire excels with its detailed network activity graph, allowing users to spot spikes or unusual patterns effortlessly. The integrated firewall lets you control application activities with precision. Furthermore, the 'Incognito mode' ensures moments of privacy when needed. For integrations, GlassWire alerts users of unknown devices connecting to their WiFi, bolstering security. Its tight-knit integration with Windows systems means there's less to worry about in terms of compatibility.


From $3.33/user/month (billed annually)


  • Comprehensive network activity graphs
  • Precise application control with an integrated firewall
  • Security alerts for unfamiliar devices


  • Primarily tailored for Windows users
  • The limited scope of native integrations
  • Some premium features are locked behind higher pricing tiers

2. VyOS - Best for flexibility in a network router

VyOS Firewall Software
This is what VyOS firewall and router installation and configuration look like.

VyOS isn’t just any router; it's an open-source router that molds to your specific needs. In an ever-changing networking landscape, having the flexibility to customize your solutions is invaluable, and this is the arena where VyOS thrives.

Why I Picked VyOS:

Among the myriad of routing options, VyOS stood out. After extensive comparison, I found that the power to customize and adapt was at the forefront of VyOS. I've always believed that flexibility is a cornerstone of modern network management. Therefore, VyOS is, in my judgment, best for those who desire flexibility in a network router.

Standout features & integrations:

VyOS provides a unified command-line interface for all its functionalities, ensuring consistency. With its support for VPN functionalities and multiple protocols, it can easily become the heart of any network. Its compatibility with major cloud platforms and virtualization solutions makes it a good deployment.


Pricing upon request


  • Unified command-line interface
  • Comprehensive VPN support
  • Compatible with major cloud platforms


  • The steeper learning curve for beginners
  • Requires manual configuration for optimal results
  • No GUI, making it less intuitive for some users

3. Stormshield Network Security (SNS) - Best for European cybersecurity standards

Stormshield Network Security Firewall Software Dashboard
This is a screenshot from Stormshield Network Security's central dashboard.

Stormshield Network Security doesn't just secure; it fortifies based on stringent European cybersecurity standards. When it comes to achieving a robust security posture, adhering to these standards can be a significant asset, a niche where SNS dominates.

Why I Picked Stormshield Network Security (SNS):

In my journey of selecting the finest, SNS made its mark with its focus on European standards. It's not just about the tech but the principles behind it, and SNS's alignment with rigorous European security guidelines drew me in. I concluded that for businesses aiming to align with European cybersecurity norms, SNS is the best bet.

Standout features & integrations:

SNS offers multi-level security, protecting the network's edge to its core. Their proactive detection mechanisms are notable, keeping threats at bay before they become issues. Furthermore, SNS integrates with other Stormshield products, creating a fortified ecosystem.


From $20/user/month (billed annually)


  • Adherence to European cybersecurity standards
  • Proactive threat detection
  • Integration with Stormshield ecosystem


  • May not be ideal for non-European businesses
  • Pricing can be on the higher side for smaller entities
  • The interface might be less intuitive for some users

4. IPFire - Best for modularity in firewall solutions

IPFire Firewall Software
Here is a screenshot of IPFire's web interface dashboard.

IPFire isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach; it's about offering a modular firewall solution tailored to your specific needs. As businesses grow and adapt, a modular system like IPFire becomes essential, ensuring that the firewall solution grows with them.

Why I Picked IPFire:

The beauty of modularity is adaptability, and IPFire exemplifies this. Having examined numerous firewalls, it became evident that IPFire’s approach to modularity was unparalleled. Based on its adaptability and my evaluation, I deem IPFire as the best for those seeking a scalable firewall solution.

Standout features & integrations:

IPFire’s color-coded web interface ensures easy understanding and management. Its ability to be customized through add-ons makes it unique, allowing for functionalities to be added as needed. For integrations, IPFire supports a range of plugins, enhancing its capabilities further.


From $5/user/month (billed annually)


  • Highly modular design
  • Intuitive color-coded interface
  • Broad support for plugins


  • Some configurations can be complex
  • Requires periodic manual updates
  • Not suitable for large-scale enterprises without customization

5. Firewalld - Best for Linux system administrators

Firewalld FIrewall Software
Here is a screen capture from the Firewalld software configuration dashboard.

Firewalld offers dynamic firewall management, changing rules without restarting, and is specifically crafted for Linux. For Linux system administrators, this tool ensures consistent, agile firewall configurations without the common hassle.

Why I Picked Firewalld:

Of the myriad of firewall solutions, Firewalld drew my attention due to its Linux-centric design. Its ability to alter rules on the fly without necessitating a restart was a standout feature in my selection process. Given its attributes and after numerous comparisons, I determined that Firewalld is best suited for Linux system administrators.

Standout features & integrations:

With Firewalld, users benefit from a zone-based firewall design allowing for tailored rules per connection. Its support for both IPv4 and IPv6 ensures modern compatibility. The tool also integrates well with most Linux distributions, providing native management options.


Pricing upon request


  • Dynamic firewall rule changes without restart
  • Zone-based firewall design
  • Native support for major Linux distributions


  • The steeper learning curve for non-Linux administrators
  • GUI options are limited
  • Requires manual intervention for some advanced configurations

6. Barracuda CloudGen Firewall - Best for integrated cloud network protection

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall Software dashboard
This is an image from Barracuda CloudGen's main control dashboard.

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall stands tall as a robust firewall solution that integrates with multiple cloud platforms. For businesses migrating or operating in the cloud, this tool offers a blend of traditional and cloud-specific protection mechanisms.

Why I Picked Barracuda CloudGen Firewall:

My choice for Barracuda stemmed from its holistic approach to cloud network protection. In comparing multiple solutions, its cloud-native design and the capacity to shield both traditional and cloud infrastructures stood out. Based on these merits, I am convinced that the Barracuda CloudGen Firewall is the premier choice for integrated cloud network protection.

Standout features & integrations:

Barracuda CloudGen provides advanced threat protection coupled with application control and optimization. Its Traffic Intelligence feature ensures optimal path selection for traffic. Integration-wise, it boasts compatibility with major cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.


From $25/user/month (billed annually)


  • Integration with major cloud platforms
  • Advanced threat protection capabilities
  • Traffic intelligence for efficient path selection


  • Might be overkill for smaller businesses
  • The initial setup can be intricate
  • Licensing model can be complex for some users

7. Arista - Best for adaptive network security scaling

Arista Firewall Software Dashboard
The Arista dashboard provides an overview of the state of your network at a glance. It is extremely useful for quickly viewing what is happening on the network and getting the current status of the NG Firewall server at a glance.

Arista provides a comprehensive solution focused on ensuring that your network remains secure against evolving threats. The tool's specialization in adaptive network security scaling means it can handle increasing security requirements without compromising efficiency.

Why I Picked Arista:

I chose Arista after evaluating a range of firewall solutions. The way it scales, and adapts to changing network security needs, particularly captured my attention. While there are many tools that offer firewall protection, Arista's emphasis on adaptability sets it apart. This is why I believe it's best suited for those seeking adaptive network security scaling.

Standout features & integrations:

Arista boasts a rich set of features including deep packet inspection, advanced threat intelligence, and automated response mechanisms. This tool integrates well with several popular third-party platforms, ensuring a seamless flow of information and further bolstering its protective capabilities.


Pricing upon request.


  • Adaptive scaling ensures security even as network requirements grow
  • Deep packet inspection provides granular insights into network traffic
  • Integrates with popular third-party platforms for enhanced functionality


  • May have a steeper learning curve for beginners
  • Integration capabilities might require advanced IT knowledge for a complete setup
  • Pricing transparency could be improved, as specific costs aren't readily available on the website

8. pfSense - Best for open-source network security

pfSense Firewall Software
Take a dive into the pfSense firewall software's main dashboard.

pfSense emerges as a highly reliable open-source firewall and router platform. Not only does it offer network security solutions, but its open-source nature ensures transparency and adaptability. Hence, for those seeking a cost-effective yet robust option, pfSense fits the bill perfectly.

Why I Picked pfSense:

Among the sea of network security tools, pfSense captivated me with its open-source stature. I selected it after determining its adaptability and the trust that comes with transparent solutions. Comparing its capabilities, I believe pfSense stands out as the best choice for open-source network security.

Standout features & integrations:

pfSense provides a comprehensive range of features including VPN, load balancing, and multi-WAN. Its package system allows for expansion without adding bloat to the base distribution. As for integrations, it aligns well with popular VPN standards and other open-source projects.


From $5/user/month (billed annually)


  • Cost-effective open-source solution
  • A wide array of features through its package system
  • Trustworthiness and transparency


  • Requires technical know-how for configurations
  • Limited official support; reliant on community
  • Hardware compatibility checks needed

9. Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall - Best for advanced threat prevention

Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall Software activity dashboard
This is a screenshot of the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall network activity dashboard.

Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall is designed to offer unmatched threat prevention capabilities. It delves deeper than just access control, by inspecting content to prevent threats and ensure safe data transmission.

Why I Picked Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall:

I chose this particular firewall after a meticulous examination of its threat-prevention mechanisms. The tool's ability to scrutinize the content and not just access intrigued me. Given its rich features, I opine that it's best suited for advanced threat prevention.

Standout features & integrations:

This firewall boasts features such as App-ID, User-ID, and Content-ID technologies for precise traffic identification. Its WildFire cloud-based malware analysis environment is commendable. As for integrations, it melds with Palo Alto's suite of security tools and mainstream SIEM solutions.


From $40/user/month (billed annually)


  • Profound threat identification technologies
  • Cloud-based malware analysis
  • Tight integration with other Palo Alto tools


  • Might be pricey for smaller organizations
  • Configuration can be intricate for beginners
  • Needs periodic updates for optimal performance

10. Check Point Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) - Best for multi-layered protection

Check Point Next Generation Firewall Software
Here is a screenshot of the Check Point software's policy dashboard.

Check Point's Next Generation Firewalls are engineered to provide an all-encompassing multi-layered security shield. From applications to data, it meticulously scans to ensure optimal protection, making it a holistic choice for those who need diverse protection layers.

Why I Picked Check Point Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs):

My decision to pick Check Point was rooted in its multifaceted security approach. In judging its features and after extensive comparisons, I've come to the opinion that its multi-layered protection is unparalleled. Hence, I believe it’s the top pick for those seeking varied layers of defense.

Standout features & integrations:

The firewall is equipped with features like Identity Awareness to recognize users, Application Control, and URL Filtering. Furthermore, its integration capabilities are vast, aligning with major cloud platforms and threat intelligence feeds.


From $45/user/month (billed annually)


  • Comprehensive multi-layered security
  • Identity Awareness for precise user recognition
  • Versatile integration with cloud platforms


  • Might require advanced understanding for deployment
  • Licensing structure can be complex
  • Resource-intensive in large environments

11. Fortinet Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) - Best for scaling security infrastructure

Fortinet Next Generation Firewall Software
This is a view from Fortinet Next Generation Firewall Software installed on a sample device.

Fortinet NGFW is a robust firewall platform designed to offer comprehensive security protection. With the growing need for scalable solutions in larger enterprises, Fortinet's firewall offers the flexibility to evolve alongside an expanding infrastructure.

Why I Picked Fortinet Next Generation Firewall (NGFW):

I chose Fortinet's solution based on its impressive track record of scalability and its commitment to bolstering security infrastructure. When comparing and judging various firewalls, Fortinet stood out due to its dedicated approach to catering to growing organizations. In my opinion, its ability to scale makes it best for expanding security infrastructures.

Standout features & integrations:

Fortinet NGFW boasts features like high-performance VPN capabilities, deep inspection for encrypted traffic, and advanced threat intelligence. In terms of integrations, it works well with Fortinet's security fabric components, offering a unified security posture.


From $30/user/month (billed annually)


  • Strong emphasis on scalability
  • Advanced threat intelligence features
  • Comprehensive integration within Fortinet's ecosystem


  • Some configurations may require expert knowledge
  • Potential for hidden costs in premium features
  • Hardware-dependent for optimal performance

12. Sophos Firewall - Best for synchronized security response

Sophos Firewall Software main dashboard
This is a view from Sophos Firewall's main control dashboard.

Sophos Firewall promises a transformative approach to threat detection and prevention. At its core, it aims to offer a synchronized security response, ensuring all security components act in unison for optimal protection.

Why I Picked Sophos Firewall:

Upon careful examination, I found that Sophos's commitment to synchronized security was noteworthy. Its approach to ensuring all facets of security communicate and act cohesively caught my attention. After analyzing and comparing its mechanisms, I firmly believe it offers the best solution for those seeking a synchronized security response.

Standout features & integrations:

Key features of Sophos Firewall include Xstream SSL Inspection, AI-powered threat analysis, and SD-WAN capabilities. It also integrates with the broader Sophos product suite, providing a comprehensive and unified security platform.


From $25/user/month (billed annually)


  • Emphasis on synchronized security
  • AI-driven threat analysis capabilities
  • Strong integration with other Sophos products


  • Interface may be daunting for beginners
  • Licensing model can be complex to understand
  • Some advanced features necessitate additional purchase

Other Notable Firewall Software

Below is a list of additional firewall software that I shortlisted, but did not make it to the top 12. Definitely worth checking them out.

  1. VMware NSX - Good for software-defined data center security
  2. SonicWall - Good for real-time breach detection
  3. Zscaler Internet Access - Good for secure cloud access
  4. Zonealarm Extreme Security - Good for PC-based threat prevention
  5. Cisco Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance (ASAv) - Good for virtualized network security
  6. A10 Networks Thunder - Good for application delivery control
  7. Endian - Good for unified threat management
  8. WinGate Firewall - Good for VPN and content filtering
  9. SecPoint Protector - Good for vulnerability scanning and defense

Selection Criteria For Choosing Firewall Software

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, selecting the right firewall and network security software is crucial. I've evaluated dozens of these tools, and in this quest, I was particularly focused on their core functionality, key features tailored to specific needs, and usability. Each of these criteria plays a significant role in ensuring optimal protection and streamlined operations for any organization.

Core Functionality:

  • Threat Prevention: The tool should be able to detect and block potential threats in real-time
  • Traffic Filtering: It should enable the filtering of inbound and outbound traffic based on predefined rules.
  • VPN Support: For ensuring secure remote connections, VPN integration is crucial.
  • Monitoring & Reporting: Continuous monitoring of network traffic and generating relevant reports for analysis.

Key Features:

  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS): Monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and sends alerts.
  • Geo-blocking: Allows or denies traffic based on geographic locations.
  • Application Control: Provides granular control over which applications can access the network.
  • Multifactor Authentication: Adds an additional layer of security by requiring more than one method of authentication.
  • Role-based Access Control (RBAC): Allows specific network access based on the role of the user.


  • Intuitive Dashboard: A clear and easy-to-navigate dashboard that provides a snapshot of network activity and threats.
  • Configurable Alerts: The ability for users to set and adjust alerts based on their specific needs.
  • Centralized Management: Tools should provide a centralized interface where configurations, updates, and patches can be managed across the entire network.
  • Learning Resources: Given the complexity of some tools, having a comprehensive learning library, documentation, or training program for onboarding users is vital.
  • Responsive Customer Support: Efficient and knowledgeable customer support can be a lifeline when dealing with security issues or software complications.

Most Common Questions Regarding Firewall Software (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using firewall software?

Using firewall software offers several advantages, including:

  • Enhanced Security: Firewalls provide a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, protecting against malicious attacks.
  • Traffic Management: They allow organizations to control and manage both incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an established set of security policies.
  • Real-time Threat Detection: Modern firewalls can identify and block real-time threats and suspicious activities.
  • VPN Support: Firewalls often include VPN support, ensuring secure remote connections for users.
  • Monitoring & Reporting: Continuous tracking of network activity and the ability to generate detailed reports for analysis can provide insights and facilitate prompt action.

How much do firewall software tools typically cost?

The cost of firewall software can vary widely depending on its features, the size of the organization, and its specific requirements. Some tools offer a subscription model, while others might charge based on the number of users or devices protected.

What are the common pricing models for firewall software?

The most common pricing models include:

  • Per User/Device: Pricing is based on the number of users or devices that the software will cover.
  • Subscription-Based: Monthly or annual fees for using the software and its features.
  • Feature-Based: Different pricing tiers based on the set of features included.

What is the typical range of pricing for these tools?

While the range can be broad, firewall software might start as low as $10/user/month for basic features, going up to $500 or more for enterprise-level solutions with advanced functionalities.

Which is the cheapest firewall software?

While prices continuously evolve, some tools like ZoneAlarm and pfSense have been known for their cost-effective solutions.

What are the most expensive firewall software options?

Premium solutions from vendors like Palo Alto Networks and Cisco tend to be on the higher end of the pricing spectrum due to their comprehensive features and advanced protection mechanisms.

Are there any free firewall software options available?

Yes, there are several open-source and free firewall options available. Notable examples include pfSense and the basic version of ZoneAlarm.

Why is there such a wide range in pricing for firewall software?

The pricing discrepancy arises from the diversity in features, scalability, and the target audience of the software. While basic solutions might cater to small businesses or personal use, enterprise-grade solutions are built to handle vast networks, offer advanced threat protection, and provide robust monitoring and reporting tools.


Selecting the right firewall software is a crucial decision for ensuring robust network security. From understanding the core functionalities and distinguishing key features to evaluating usability aspects, it's essential to consider various factors tailored to your specific needs. The market offers a diverse range of solutions, each with its own strengths and pricing models, making it vital to identify which aligns best with your requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Determine Core Needs: Before diving into features and pricing, pinpoint the primary requirements your organization or personal use demands. Whether it's real-time threat detection, VPN support, or traffic management, ensuring the firewall software aligns with your core needs will result in more effective protection.
  2. Consider Usability and Support: Beyond the fundamental features, assess the software's user experience. A good firewall should not only be powerful but also intuitive. Moreover, the availability of training resources or customer support can significantly affect long-term use, especially if complex issues arise.
  3. Evaluate Cost and Scalability: While initial costs are essential, think about the software's scalability. As your organization grows or your personal needs evolve, your firewall should be capable of adapting without necessitating an entire system overhaul. Opt for solutions that provide flexibility both in features and pricing to ensure longevity and value for money.

What do you think?

While I've endeavored to provide a comprehensive overview of some of the best firewall software available, the tech landscape is vast and ever-evolving. If you've had a stellar experience with a tool not mentioned in this guide, I'd love to hear about it.

Your input can help make this resource even more valuable for everyone. Please share your recommendations and insights, and together, we can create a more inclusive and informed discussion around firewall solutions.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.