Cisco Secure Firewall vs pfSense comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on Nov 23, 2022

We performed a comparison between Cisco Secure Firewall vs. pfSense based on our users’ reviews in five categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Users of both solutions say their setup between straightforward to medium in complexity, depending on the user’s IT experience.
  • Features: Users of both products are happy with their stability and scalability.

    Cisco Secure Firewall users say that the remote access, VPN, and ACL features are the most valuable features. Several users note that its interface could be better and that additional features would make it more worthwhile.

    pfSense users say its reliability, intrusion detection, content protection, content inspection, and the application level firewall are some of its best features. Some users note that the solution’s GUI is not user friendly and that customers may need to use proxy services.
  • Pricing: Cisco Secure Firewall users note that the licensing fee is expensive, as are all the add ons. pfSense, on the other hand, is open source and free, but customers can opt to pay for support.
  • ROI: Users of both solutions are pleased with the ROI.
  • Service and Support: Cisco Secure Firewall users largely rate its 24/7 support as 10 out of 10, whereas pfSense users mention below-average to average support.

Comparison Results: Cisco Secure Firewall and pfSense come out about equal in this comparison. Cisco ASA Firewall has a slight edge when it comes to service and support, but pfSense has an edge when it comes to pricing.

To learn more, read our detailed Cisco Secure Firewall vs. pfSense Report (Updated: November 2022).
653,522 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"All the rules are secure and we haven't had a significant malware attack in the five years that we've been using ASA Firewall. It has been a tremendous improvement for our network. However, I can't quantify the benefits in monetary terms.""The most valuable feature is the Intrusion Prevention System.""It has definitely improved our organization. It gives us remote connectivity, helps workers connect remotely, and also gives us good connectivity to our other branches.""It's very stable and mature.""With the pandemic, people began working from home. That was a pretty big move, having all our users working from a home. More capacity needed to be added to our remote VPN. ASA did this very well.""It's very scalable. You can go to different models of the ASAs and they scale up to as big as you want to go.""We find all of its features very useful. Its main features are policies and access lists. We use both of them, and we also use routing.""The technical support is excellent. I would rate it as 10 out of 10. When there has been an issue, we have had a good response from them."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Pros →

"Sophos Intercept X is scalable. Currently, we have almost 30 people using it in our company.""pfSense helped us during COVID-19 because we used OpenVPN to connect from home.""The solution is very easy to use and has a very nice GUI.""What I like about pfSense is that it works well and runs on an inexpensive appliance.""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. Some people may think you're taking a risk with using Opensource. I think it just provides the end user, specifically for us small, medium business providers of services, the flexibility we need at the right cost to provide them a higher end, almost enterprise type service.""pfSense allows us to spread the hours of connection and do the filtering on the pfSense site.""I have found the most valuable features to be antivirus and malware protection.""It is a stable solution. It is also easy to install and can be deployed and maintained by one team member."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"The graphical interface could be improved. From what I have seen, Fortinet, for example, has a nicer GUI.""I think they need to review their whole UI because it feels like it was created by a whole bunch of different teams of developers who didn't fully talk to each other. The net policy screen is just a mess. It should look like the firewall policy screen, and they should both act the same, but they don't. I feel like it's two different buildings or programming, who don't talk to each other, and that really annoys me.""The operation of the ASA is good but the problem is that whenever you require an upgrade, there are multiple pieces of software that you have to upgrade. Extensive planning is required, because if you upgrade one piece of the software it has to be compatible with the others as well. You always need to check the compatibility metrics.""It is my understanding that they are in the process of discontinuing this device.""The performance should be improved.""Cisco should work on ASDM. One of the biggest drawbacks of Cisco ASA is ASDM GUI. Cisco should improve the ASDM GUI. The configuration through ASDM is really difficult as compared to CLI. Sometimes when you are doing the configuration in ASDM, it suddenly crashes. It also crashes while pushing a policy. Cisco should really work on this.""We are still running the original ASAs. The software that you are running for the ASDM software and Java application has never been a lot of fun to operate. It would have been nice to see that change update be redesigned with modern systems, which don't play nicely with Java sometimes. Cybersecurity doesn't seem to love how that operates. For us, a fresher application, taking advantage of the hardware, would have been a better approach.""It would be good if Cisco made sure that the solution supports all routing protocols. Sometimes it doesn't."

More Cisco Secure Firewall Cons →

"The product could offer more integrated plugins.""Other solutions provide more scope for growth. For instance, we can have only 10 to 20 employees on VPN, but other solutions can support more users. We also have more capabilities to increase the performance of the solution.""I have been using WireGuard VPN because it is a lot faster and more secure than an open VPN. However, in the latest version of pfSense, they have removed this feature, which is one of the main features that I need. They should include this feature.""The hotspot and the portal feature in this solution are not stable for WiFi access. We use it at least once or twice every day and it crashes. Some modules can be better by improving detection and having new updates. Additionally, we have some issues with clustering and load balancing that could improve.""It's just not listed as FIPS compliant for where we're at now in government, which is an issue.""ClamAV AntiVirus can cause some crashes. That service should be improved.""If you want to take advantage of all of the solution's options, you need to have a bit of a technical background. It's not for a layperson.""The main problem with pfSense is that it lacks adequate ransomware protection."

More pfSense Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "This product is expensive."
  • "If we compare it with FortiGate and the co-existing ASA, FortiGate is better in price."
  • "They seem to be at the top end in terms of pricing, but they are worth the price. They are probably a little bit lower than Palo Alto. If the customers are relying on Cisco products and they are thinking more in terms of scaling to another layer in a year, it is pretty much in a good price range."
  • "We're using the smart license for this firewall. The models that we have require licensing for remote access."
  • "There are licensing costs."
  • "I just bought it off the shelf, and I'm using it with my previous one, so I have not spent that much."
  • "The price is fair. It's not the cheapest, but it's not bad."
  • "For me, personally, as an individual, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall is expensive."
  • More Cisco Secure Firewall Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "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."
  • "The pricing is lower than some of its competitors."
  • "pfSense is open-source."
  • "We are using the open-source version which is free. We are testing the solution to see if we are going to go to the enterprise version which requires a license and is not free."
  • "There is no license. You don't have to pay anything. It's completely free."
  • "It's open-source and it's free. Anything for free is good."
  • "pfSense is a free solution."
  • 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 usage at large. In my opinion, Fortinet would be the best option and l use… more »
    Top Answer:One of our favorite things about Fortinet Fortigate is that you can deploy on the cloud or on premises. Fortinet Fortigate is very stable, reliable, and consistent. We like that we can manage the… more »
    Top Answer:It is easy to integrate Cisco ASA with other Cisco products and also other NAC solutions. When you understand the Cisco ecosystem, it is very simple to handle. This solution has traffic inspection and… more »
    Top Answer:You don't really specify what type of router you are looking for but if you are talking about a gateway router I recommend PFSense. This software solutions can be installed on youf own hardware or you… more »
    Top Answer:Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate both cost-effective and efficient. One of the features we like most is that… more »
    Top Answer:Two of the most common and well recognized firewalls, PfSense and OPNsense both support site-to-site IPsec VPN and client, Open VPN and client, and PPTP client. Both also have intrusion detection and… more »
    Ranking
    2nd
    out of 48 in Firewalls
    Views
    98,494
    Comparisons
    66,440
    Reviews
    129
    Average Words per Review
    735
    Rating
    8.3
    3rd
    out of 48 in Firewalls
    Views
    118,369
    Comparisons
    100,663
    Reviews
    59
    Average Words per Review
    471
    Rating
    8.6
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco ASA Firewall, Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Firewall, Cisco ASA NGFW, Cisco ASA, Adaptive Security Appliance, ASA, Cisco Sourcefire Firewalls, Cisco ASAv, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn More
    Cisco
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    Netgate
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    Overview

    Cisco Secure Firewall is a suite of Cisco ASA Firewall and Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall among other Cisco products. 

    Anticipate, act, and simplify with Secure Firewall

    With workers, data, and offices located all over, your firewall must be ready for anything. Secure Firewall helps you plan, prioritize, close gaps, and recover from disaster—stronger.

    Turn intent into action

    Unify policy across your environment and prioritize what’s important. Having security resilience is about shoring up your architecture against threats and using automation to save time.

    Achieve superior visibility

    Regain visibility and control of your encrypted traffic and application environments. See more and detect more with Cisco Talos, while leveraging billions of signals across your infrastructure with security resilience.

    Drive efficiency at scale

    Only Secure Firewall includes license entitlement for Cisco SecureX, our open orchestration and XDR platform. The combination increases productivity across your teams and hybrid environments, while reducing threat dwell times.

    Make zero trust practical

    Secure Firewall makes a zero-trust posture achievable and cost-effective with network, microsegmentation, and app security integrations. Automate access and anticipate what comes next.

    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 Secure Firewall
    Learn more about pfSense
    Sample Customers
    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
    Financial Services Firm16%
    Comms Service Provider13%
    Computer Software Company9%
    Government8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider21%
    Computer Software Company19%
    Government7%
    Educational Organization5%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider27%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Government8%
    Educational Organization5%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business36%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise40%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business28%
    Midsize Enterprise19%
    Large Enterprise53%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business29%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise51%
    Buyer's Guide
    Cisco Secure Firewall vs. pfSense
    November 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco Secure Firewall vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: November 2022.
    653,522 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cisco Secure Firewall is ranked 2nd in Firewalls with 126 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 54 reviews. Cisco Secure Firewall is rated 8.4, while pfSense is rated 8.6. The top reviewer of Cisco Secure Firewall writes "The ability to implement dynamic policies for dynamic environments is important, given the fluidity in the world of security". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Cisco Secure Firewall is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Meraki MX, Palo Alto Networks WildFire, Juniper SRX and Check Point NGFW, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall and Sophos UTM. See our Cisco Secure 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.