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Cisco ASA Firewall vs pfSense comparison

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Buyer's Guide
Cisco ASA Firewall vs. pfSense
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ASA Firewall vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
608,010 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"The most important features are the intrusion prevention engine and the application visibility and control. The Snort feature in Firepower is also valuable.""If configured, Firepower provides us with application visibility and control.""Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity.""Firepower has reduced our firewall operational costs by about 25 percent.""The most valuable feature would be ASDM. The ability to go in, visualize and see the world base in a clear and consistent manner is very powerful.""The most important feature is the intensive way you can troubleshoot Cisco Firepower Firewalls. You can go to the bit level to see why traffic is not handled in the correct way, and the majority of the time it's a networking issue and not a firewall issue. You can solve any problem without Cisco TAC help, because you can go very deeply under the hood to find out how traffic is flowing and whether it is not flowing as expected. That is something I have never seen with other brands.""If you compare the ASA and the FirePOWER, the best feature with FirePOWER is easy to use GUI. It has most of the same functionality in the Next-Generation FirePOWER, such as IPS, IPS policies, security intelligence, and integration and identification of all the devices or hardware you have in your network. Additionally, this solution is user-friendly.""Firepower NGFW has improved my organization in several ways. Before, we were trying to stamp out security threats and issues, it was a one-off type of way to attack it. I spent a lot of manpower trying to track down the individual issues or flare-ups that we would see. With Cisco's Firepower Management, we're able to have that push up to basically one monitor and one UI and be able to track that and stop threats immediately. It also gives us a little more granularity on what those threats might be."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros →

"It's very stable and mature.""Netting is one of the best features. We can modify it in different ways. Site-to-site VPN is also an awesome feature of Cisco ASA. The biggest advantage of Cisco products is technical support. They provide the best technical support.""It's a flexible solution.""The user interface is easy to navigate.""It helped us a lot with our VPNs for the home office during COVID. There has been more security and flexibility for VPNs and other applications.""The most valuable feature is that it's secure.""The high-availability and remote VPN features are most valuable.""The solution is excellent for enterprise-level networks."

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"The GUI is easy to understand.""The solution is fairly scalable when it comes to integrating with other applications and data sets.""We've found the stability to be very good overall.""pfSense helped us during COVID-19 because we used OpenVPN to connect from home.""pfSense allows us to spread the hours of connection and do the filtering on the pfSense site.""The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects.""We like the fact that the product is open-source. It's free to use. There are no costs associated with it.""The solution is very easy to use and has a very nice GUI."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"When you make any changes, irrespective of whether they are big or small, Firepower takes too much time. It is very time-consuming. Even for small changes, you have to wait for 60 seconds or maybe more, which is not good. Similarly, when you have many IPS rules and policies, it slows down, and there is an impact on its performance.""In a future release, it would be ideal if they could offer an open interface to other security products so that we could easily connect to our own open industry standard.""One of my colleagues is using the firewall as an IPS, but he is worried about Firepower's performance... With the 10 Gb devices, when it gets to 5 Gbps, the CPU usage goes up a lot and he cannot manage the IPS.""Implementations require the use of a console. It would help if the console was embedded.""One of the few things that are brought up is that for the overall management, it would be great to have a cloud instance of that. And not only just a cloud instance, but one of the areas that we've looked at is using an HA type of cloud. To have the ability to have a device file within a cloud. If we had an issue with one, the other one would pick up automatically.""This product is managed using the Firepower Management Center (FMC), but it would be better if it also supported the command-line interface (CLI).""Cisco Firepower is not completely integrated with Active Directory. We are trying to use Active Directory to restrict users by using some security groups that are not integrated within the Cisco Firepower module. This is the main issue that we are facing.""The reporting and other features are nice, but there is an issue with applying the configuration. That part needs some improvement."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons →

"The virtual firewalls don't work very well with Cisco AnyConnect.""The user interface isn't as good as it could be. They should work to improve it. It would make it easier for customer management if it was easier to use.""Some individuals find the setup and configuration challenging.""The ease of use needs improvement. It is complex to operate the solution. The user interface is not friendly.""Cisco ASA Firewall could improve by adding more advanced features such as web filtering, which is available in the next-generation firewalls. However, the Cisco ASA Firewall I am using could be old and these features have been updated.""I would like the ability to drill down into certain reports because currently, that cannot be done.""I would say that in inexperienced hands, the interface can be kind of overwhelming. There are just a lot of options. Too much, if you don't know what you are looking for or trying to do.""They should improve their interface."

More Cisco ASA Firewall Cons →

"The usage reports can be better.""The solution requires a lot of administration.""The configuration of the solution is a bit difficult.""There are some bias issues and some intrusions in our network that have to be addressed. So, we're thinking of changing this firewall to something like a professional hardware-enabled firewall.""pfSense could improve by having a sandboxing feature that I have seen in SonicWall. However, maybe it is available I am not aware of it.""It would be great to add more to security.""Ultimately, we'd like something stronger, and something that can handle threats better in real-time.""Web interface could be enhanced and more user friendly."

More pfSense Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Cisco, as we all know, is expensive, but for the money you are paying, you know that you are also getting top-notch documentation as well as support if needed."
  • "This product requires licenses for advanced features including Snort, IPS, and malware detection."
  • "This product is expensive."
  • "For me, personally, as an individual, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is expensive."
  • "The price of Firepower is not bad compared to other products."
  • "The solution was chosen because of its price compared to other similar solutions."
  • "The price is comparable."
  • "It definitely competes with the other vendors in the market."
  • More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "Always consider what you might need to reduce your wasted time and invest it in other solutions."
  • "Cisco is considered to be an expensive solution."
  • "It's very competitive with other products."
  • "We pay about $200 yearly and we have two firewalls."
  • "I'd say it's probably well-priced."
  • "The product cost is a little high. It is a little bit on the high side, and it should be a little bit cost-friendly."
  • "We pay about €2,000 ($2,400 USD) per year for licensing."
  • "If we compare it with FortiGate and the co-existing ASA, FortiGate is better in price."
  • More Cisco ASA Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "We are using the open-source version, not the commercial one."
  • "It has almost zero cost, and it is open to us. It runs on a small appliance just for a couple of 100 bucks, and I've never had an appliance burn out on me yet."
  • "It is open source."
  • "I spent a couple of $1,000 on hardware, and the OS was free. A comparable firewall would cost me probably 20 grand. It saved a lot of money."
  • "I like the fact that it is open-source."
  • "pfSense is open-source, but the support is something that the customer pays for."
  • "The pricing is lower than some of its competitors."
  • "pfSense is open-source."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer: When you compare these firewalls you can identify them with different features, advantages, practices and… more »
    Top Answer: The Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is a very powerful and very complex piece of anti-viral software. When one considers… more »
    Top Answer:It is easy to integrate Cisco ASA with other Cisco products and also other NAC solutions. When you understand the Cisco… more »
    Top Answer:One of our favorite things about Fortinet Fortigate is that you can deploy on the cloud or on premises. Fortinet… more »
    Top Answer: Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software is the operating software for the Cisco ASA suite. It supports… more »
    Top Answer:When looking to change our ASA Firewall, we looked into Palo Alto’s WildFire. It works especially in preventing advanced… more »
    Top Answer:Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate… more »
    Top Answer:Two of the most common and well recognized firewalls, PfSense and OPNsense both support site-to-site IPsec VPN and… more »
    Top Answer:It is very easy to use. The interface is quite understandable. There is a good community, and I can take over at any… more »
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
    Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Firewall, Cisco ASA NGFW, Cisco ASA, Adaptive Security Appliance, ASA, Cisco Sourcefire Firewalls, Cisco ASAv
    Learn More
    Cisco
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    Netgate
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    Overview

    Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is a firewall that provides capabilities beyond those of a standard firewall and delivers comprehensive, unified policy management of firewall functions, application control, threat prevention, and advanced malware protection from the network to the endpoint.

    Cisco NGFW Firewalls include advanced threat defense capabilities to meet diverse needs, from small offices to high-performance data centers and service providers, and are deployed in leading private and public clouds. Available in a wide range of models, Cisco NGFW can be deployed as a physical or virtual appliance. Cisco NGFW firewalls are also available with clustering for increased performance, high availability configurations, and more.

    Key Features of Cisco NGFW Firewalls

    • Breach prevention and advanced security: Prevent attacks before they get inside. Cisco provides its firewalls with the latest intelligence to stop emerging threats and employs filtering to enforce policies on hundreds of millions of URLs. Cisco NGFW offers built-in sandboxing and advanced malware protection that continuously analyzes file behavior to quickly detect and eliminate threats.

    • Comprehensive network visibility: Constantly monitor your network so you can rapidly spot and stop bad behavior. Cisco NGFW provides a holistic view of all activity and provides a clear picture of threat activity across users, hosts, networks, and devices, as well as information on threats and website, application, and VM activities.

    • Flexible management and deployment options: Centrally deploy, customize, and manage all your appliances.

    • Fast detection: Detect threats in seconds and detect the presence of a successful breach within hours or minutes. Cisco NGFW allows you to deploy consistent policy that's easy to maintain, with automatic enforcement across all the different parts of your organization.

    • Automation and product integrations: Seamlessly integrate with Cisco tools and automatically share threat information, event data, policy, and contextual information with email, web, endpoint, and network security tools. Cisco NGFW automates security tasks like impact assessment, policy management and tuning, and user identification.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cisco NGFW stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its extensive discovery abilities that enable you to constantly see what is happening on your network and take action when necessary, and the high level of protection it provides.

    Mike B., a director of IT security at a wellness & fitness company, writes, "It is one of the fastest solutions, if not the fastest, in the security technology space. This gives us peace of mind knowing that as soon as a new attack comes online that we will be protected in short order. From that perspective, no one really comes close now to Firepower, which is hugely valuable to us from an upcoming new attack prevention perspective."

    Zhulien K., the lead network security engineer at TechnoCore LTD, notes, " The most valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy. Again, with that being said, I cannot shy away from giving kudos to all of the other features such as AVC (Application Visibility and Control), SSL Decryption, Identity policy, Correlation policy, REST API, and more. All of the features that are incorporated in the Cisco Firepower NGFW are awesome and easy to configure if you know what you are doing. Things almost always work, unless you hit a bug, which is fixed with a simple software update. "

    Cisco ASA Firewall is a security device that combines firewall, intrusion prevention, virtual private network (VPN), and antivirus capabilities. Its main purpose is to provide proactive threat defense to stop attacks before they spread through the network.

    Cisco ASA Firewall Features

    Cisco ASA Firewall has many valuable key features, including:

    • Intrusion prevention system (IPS): Cisco ASA Firewall’s IPS provides contextual awareness.
    • Advanced threat protection: Gain protection against zero day threats (based on using global threat intelligence) .
    • Rapid threat containment: With Cisco ASA Firewall, you can proactively mitigate risks. If a threat is detected, additional security policies are applied to other network devices for increased protection.
    • High availability: Cisco ASA Firewall offers high availability for high resiliency applications
    • Integrated IPS, VPN, and unified communications capabilities
    • Multi-node clustering
    • Multi-site
    • High performance

    Cisco ASA Firewall Benefits

    Some of the benefits of using Cisco ASA Firewall include:

    • Superior protection from threats through CSC, IPS, and the like.
    • Better pricing means that TCO is reduced. 
    • High performance levels that can be scaled to achieve 10+ Gbps.
    • You can deploy new applications easily over secured layers.
    • Identity-based access helps you access business resources.
    • Identity-based access can be integrated with other services, such as LDAP and Microsoft Active Directory.
    • By implementing Cisco ASA Firewall, IT resources are freed up.
    • Because Cisco ASA Firewall offers effective prevention, your spyware cleanup costs decrease.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by Cisco ASA Firewall users.

    A Cisco Security Specialist at a tech services company says, “All the features are very valuable. Among them is the integration for remote users, with AnyConnect, to the infrastructure. All the security through that is wonderful and it's very easy. You connect and you are inside your company network via VPN. Everything is encrypted and it's a very good solution.” He goes on to add, “The intrusion prevention system, the intrusion detection, is perfect. But you can also integrate Cisco with an IPS solution from another vendor, and just use the ASA with AnyConnect and as a firewall. Cisco ASA also provides application control. You can block or prevent people from going to certain applications or certain content.”

    Jonathan M., Head of Information Communication Technology at National Building Society, comments, "The benefits we see from the ASA are connected to teleworking as well as, of course, having the basic functionality of a firewall in place and the prevention of attacks. The standard reports allow us to constantly monitor our environment and take corrective steps.

    Eric H., CEO at NPI Technology Management, explains, “The command-line interface is really useful for us. We script basic installations and modifications through the command-line, which is considered sort of old school, and yet it allows us to fully document the changes that we're making due to the fact that we can save the exact script that was applied and say, "Here are the changes that we made."

    pfSense is a free and open-source operating system for routers and firewalls, and is typically configured as DHCP server, DNS server, WiFi access point, VPN server, all running on the same hardware device. It is operated through a user-friendly web interface, making administration easy even for users with limited networking knowledge.

    In addition, pfSense is feature-rich, has a mature platform, is customizable, is flexible by design, and can be used on a small home router as well as run the entire network of a large corporation. pfSense puts you in control of your networking, is regularly updated, and works to promptly patch security issues. pfSense has recently become the favored alternative to the industry leader, Cisco.

    pfSense is:

    • Robust
    • Powerful
    • Easy to use
    • Secure
    • Scalable

    pfSense Key Features

    pfSense has many key features and capabilities, including:

    • Strength and accuracy: pfSense is able to always follow either default or custom rules, making it a stronger firewall than some of its competitors. It also filters traffic separately, whether it’s coming from your internal network of devices or the open internet, allowing you to set different rules and policies for each.

    • Flexibility: pfSense can work both as a basic firewall and as a complete security system because it gives you the flexibility to integrate additional features as code where necessary.

    • Open-source: Because it is open-source, not only is pfSense free to use, but community members can contribute to the code to make it a better software.

    • User-friendly: Usually firewall products are not user-friendly because they often include complex settings, options, and features that require fine-tuning. pfSense’s interface is simple, direct, and easy to use.

    • WireGuard Support: Instead of building your own VPN using pfSense, or settling for a commercial VPN provider, you can directly integrate WireGuard with the pfSense firewall.

    • Speed Management and Fault Tolerance: pfSense’s multi-WAN feature allows your system to continue operating in case components fail.

    • Well-supported: pfSense regularly has security and feature updates. It also has a documentation site and a well-informed and knowledgeable support forum.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below is some feedback from PeerSpot Users who are currently using the solution.

    Bojan O., CEO at In.sist d.o.o., says, “The classic features, such as content inspection, content protection, and the application-level firewall, are the most important."

    Another PeerSpot user, a chef at a media company, explains what he finds most valuable about pfSense: "The plugins or add-ons are most valuable. Sometimes, they are free of charge, and sometimes, you have to pay for them, but you can purchase or download very valuable plugins or add-ons to perform internal testing of your network and simulate a denial-of-service attack or whichever attack you want to simulate. You can also remote and monitor your network and see where the gap is."

    T.O., a VP of Business Development at a tech services company, mentions, "What I found most valuable is the cost of the platform, the flexibility of the platform, and the fact that the ongoing fees are not there as they are with the competitor."



    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn more about Cisco ASA Firewall
    Learn more about pfSense
    Sample Customers
    Rackspace, The French Laundry, Downer Group, Lewisville School District, Shawnee Mission School District, Lower Austria Firefighters Administration, Oxford Hospital, SugarCreek, Westfield
    There are more than one million Adaptive Security Appliances deployed globally. Top customers include First American Financial Corp., Genzyme, Frankfurt Airport, Hansgrohe SE, Rio Olympics, The French Laundry, Rackspace, and City of Tomorrow.
    Nerds On Site Inc., RKC Development Inc., Expertech, Fisher's Technology, Ncisive, Consulting, CPURX, Vaughn's Computer House Calls, Imeretech LLC, Digital Crisis, Carolina Digital Phone, Technigogo Technology Services, The Simple Solution, SwiftecITInc, Rocky Mountain Tech Team, Free Range Geeks, Alaska Computer Geeks, Lark Information Technology, Renaissance Systems Inc., Cutting Edge Computers, Caretech LLC, GoVanguard, Network Touch Ltd, P.C. Solutions.Net, Vision Voice and Data Systems LLC, Montgomery Technologies, Techforce, Concero Networks, ASONInc, CPS Electronics and Consulting, Darkwire.net LLC, IT Specialists, MBS-Net Inc., VOICE1 LLC, Advantage Networking Inc., Powerhouse Systems, Doxa Multimedia Inc., Pro Computer Service, Virtual IT Services, A&J Computers Inc., Envision IT LLC, CommunicaONE Inc., Bone Computer Inc., Amax Engineering Corporation, QPG Ltd. Co., IT 101 Inc., Perfect Cloud Solutions, Applied Technology Group Inc., The Digital Sun Group LLC, Firespring
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider19%
    Financial Services Firm17%
    Government13%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider28%
    Computer Software Company21%
    Government7%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    Financial Services Firm15%
    Comms Service Provider12%
    Computer Software Company9%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider35%
    Computer Software Company20%
    Government5%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Construction Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider40%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Government7%
    Educational Organization4%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business40%
    Midsize Enterprise26%
    Large Enterprise34%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business26%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise55%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business34%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise42%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise22%
    Large Enterprise51%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise48%
    Buyer's Guide
    Cisco ASA Firewall vs. pfSense
    May 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ASA Firewall vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
    608,010 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cisco ASA Firewall is ranked 6th in Firewalls with 71 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 61 reviews. Cisco ASA Firewall is rated 8.2, while pfSense is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of Cisco ASA Firewall writes "Packet inspection with ASDM works well, but upgrading requires notable planning and effort". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Cisco ASA Firewall is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Palo Alto Networks WildFire, Meraki MX, Juniper SRX and Sophos XG, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall and Zyxel Unified Security Gateway. See our Cisco ASA Firewall vs. pfSense report.

    See our list of best Firewalls vendors.

    We monitor all Firewalls reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.