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Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls vs pfSense comparison

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Buyer's Guide
Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls vs. pfSense
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
609,272 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
"One of the nice things about Firepower is that you can set it to discover the environment. If that is happening, then Firepower is learning about every device, software operating system, and application running inside or across your environment. Then, you can leverage the discovery intelligence to get Firepower to select the most appropriate intrusion prevention rules to use for your environment rather than picking one of the base policies that might have 50,000 IPS rules in it, which can put a lot of overhead on your firewall. If you choose the recommendations, as long as you update them regularly, you might be able to get your rule set down to only 1,000 or 1,500, which is a significant reduction in a base rule set. This means that the firewall will give you better performance because there are less rules being checked unnecessarily. That is really useful.""Web filtering is a big improvement for us. The previous version we used, the AC520, did not have that feature included. It was not very easy for us, especially because the environment had to be isolated and we needed to get updates from outside, such as Windows patches. That feature has really helped us when we are going outside to pull those patches.""If configured, Firepower provides us with application visibility and control.""It has a good security level. It is a next-generation firewall. It can protect from different types of attacks. We have enabled IPS and IDS.""The content filtering is good.""The most valuable features of this solution are the integrations and IPS throughput.""Firepower has reduced our firewall operational costs by about 25 percent.""We get the Security Intelligence Feeds refreshed every hour from Talos, which from my understanding is that they're the largest intelligence Security Intelligence Group outside of the government."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros →

"Operationally, it is easier, and the manageability and their security features are good.""The App-ID, Content-ID, User-ID, and encryption and decryption are valuable features.""The most valuable feature is the security provided by the ATP.""I love the Policy Optimizer feature. I am also completely happy with its stability.""Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls have a Single Pass Parallel Processing (SP3) Architecture, which has a different kind of code doing the work. It increases the packet processing rate. Whereas, without the SP3 Architecture, you are waiting for each job to complete, even if you have 100 jobs assigned.""We have found the DPI ability to understand web applications and build access rules on web application categories first to be a great feature.""A feature introduced by Palo Alto with the version 10-OS is embedded machine learning in the core of the firewall to provide inline, real-time attack prevention. Machine learning analyzes the network traffic and detects if there is any usual traffic coming from outside to inside. Because of Palo Alto, organizations detect around 91% of malicious attacks using machine learning. The machine learning helps customers by implementing firewalls in critical and air gap areas so there is no need to integrate with the cloud sandbox.""Flexible and integrates well with apps and other security tools."

More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Pros →

"Some of the terminologies were more familiar to me than it was when I first encountered Cisco.""Great extensibility of the platform.""A free firewall that is a good network security appliance.""pfSense is a nice product, and I find that there's a lot of information out there. There are some good tutorials on YouTube and other websites with helpful information.""The VPN is my favorite feature.""My technicians find the pfSense's web interface very useful. It is very easy to use. pfSense is very reliable and stable. We like the OpenVPN clients that can be deployed using pfSense very much.""The documentation is very good.""The solution is very robust."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"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.""The initial setup was a bit complex. It wasn't a major challenge, but due to our requirements and network, it was not very straightforward but still easy enough.""The performance should be improved.""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.""The solution could offer better control that would allow the ability to restrictions certain features from a website.""Its interface is sometimes is a little bit slow, and it can be improved. When you need to put your appliance in failover mode, it is a little difficult to do it remotely because you need to turn off the appliance in Cisco mode. In terms of new features, it would be good to have AnyConnect VPN with Firepower. I am not sure if it is available at the moment.""There is limited data storage on the appliance itself. So, you need to ship it out elsewhere in order for you to store it. The only point of consideration is around that area, basically limited storage on the machine and appliance. Consider logging it elsewhere or pushing it out to a SIEM to get better controls and manipulation over the data to generate additional metrics and visibility.""The configuration in Firepower Management Center is very slow. Deployment takes two to three minutes. You spend a lot of time on modifications. Whereas, in FortiGate, you press a button, and it takes one second."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons →

"I would like the option to be able to block the traffic from a specific country in a few clicks.""For an upcoming release, they could improve on the way to build security rules per user.""The only real drawback to this product is that it is expensive. But you get what you pay for and there is no way to put a price on top-notch security.""Its scalability for on-prem deployments can be better. For an on-prem deployment, the hardware has to be replaced if the volume goes up to a certain level.""We are not happy with Palo Alto at all. It would be better if they provided more support for the firewall. We have a few pending issues with the configuration for each application. We cannot deploy them yet due to some support-related problems in the firewall. We have deployed a few policies for DNS spoofing and DNS attacks, but we could only block a few IP addresses through the policy. That's DNS security, and we have configured a few policies for DNS spoofing and more. URL categorization and URL filtering are not yet adequately maintained. For example, if you created a few rules in the rule-based configuration and made some rules downstairs, you will lose some of them if you give access upstairs. It's not giving us a proper solution for which route it is using. We need to apply the application-based policies and URL filtering-based policies. It creates more issues because we are not getting good support from the team.""The pricing could be improved. They need to work on the setup over the firewall, VLAN, and PPPoE.""When there was change from IPv4 to IPv6, some of the firewalls still didn't support IPv6. In North America, we have seen most customers are using IPv6, as they are getting the IPv6 IPs from their ISPs. Sometimes, when they go through the firewall, it denies the traffic.""The solution could be simplified."

More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Cons →

"The solution could improve by having centralized management and API support online.""Also, simplifying the rules for the GeoIP. Making it simpler to understand would be an improvement.""The VPN feature of the solution could improve by adding better functionality and providing easier configure ability.""Many people have problems setting up the web cache for the web system.""It would be great to add more to security.""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.""I'd like to find something in pfSense that is more specific to URL filtering. We have customers who would like to filter their web traffic. They would like to be able to say to their employees, "You can surf the web, but you cannot get access to Facebook or other social media," or "You can surf the web, but you're not allowed to gamble or watch porn on the web." My technicians say that doing this kind of stuff with pfSense nowadays is not easy. They can implement some filters using IP addresses but not by using the names of the domains and categories. So, we are not able to exclude some categories from the allowed traffic, such as porn, gambling, etc. To do that, we have to use another product and another web filter that uses DNS. I know that there are some third-party products that could work with pfSense, but I'd like the native pfSense solution to do that.""The access control aspect of the product could be improved."

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 →

  • "The pricing is competitive in the market."
  • "This is an expensive product, which is why some of our customers don't adopt it."
  • "The product is expensive compared to competing products but uses a similar type of pricing model based on hardware, software and maintenance."
  • "It is a little bit expensive than other firewalls, but it is worth every penny. There are different licenses for the kinds of services you want to use. When we buy a new product, we go for a three-year subscription."
  • "It is a little bit expensive."
  • "The NG firewall is an expensive solution."
  • "This is an expensive product and there is a subscription cost."
  • "Its price can be better. Licensing is on a yearly basis."
  • More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls 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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    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
    Palo Alto NGFW, Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall, Palo Alto Networks PA-Series
    Learn More
    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. "

    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls is a firewall solution designed for security teams that provides them with full visibility and control over all networks via powerful traffic identification, malware prevention, and threat intelligence technologies. In order to determine which applications, users, and content traversing the network are safe, the solution offers companies a variety of advanced security tools and strategies.

    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Features

    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls has many valuable key features. Some of the most useful ones include:

    • Secure Application Enablement (App-ID, User-ID, Content-ID)
    • Malware Detection and Prevention (threat prevention service, buffer overflows and port scans, anti-malware capabilities, command-and-control protection, and WildFire)
    • DNS Security (URL filtering, predict and block malicious domains, signature-based protection, extensible cloud-based architecture)
    • Panorama Security Management (including graphical views and analytics, manage rules and dynamic updates, customizable application command center (ACC), log collection mode, physical or virtual appliance)
    • Threat Intelligence (high-fidelity threat intelligence, priority alerts, automatic extraction and sharing of prevention indicators, native integration with Palo Alto Networks products)

    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Benefits

    There are several benefits to implementing Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls. Some of the biggest advantages the solution offers include:

    • Dedicated management interface for managing and initial configuration of the device
    • Regular threat signatures and updates
    • Import addresses and URL objects from the external server
    • Configure and manage with REST API integration
    • Great throughput and connection speed is fair even in high traffic load
    • Deep visibility into the network activity through Application and Command Control
    • Easy to manage and very user friendly

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls users.

    A Solutions Architect at a communications service provider says, “The product stability and level of security are second to none in the industry. We value the security of our client's infrastructure so these features are valuable to us. An example of a very valuable feature behind Palo Alto is the application-aware identifiers that help the firewall know what its users are trying to do. It can block specific activities instead of just blocking categories. For example, you can block an application, or all unknown applications.”

    PeerSpot user Gerry H., CyberSecurity Network Engineer at a university, mentions that the solution has a “Nice user interface, good support, is stable, and has extensive logging capabilities.” He also adds, “Wildfire has been a very good feature. This solution provides a unified platform that natively integrates all security capabilities, which is 100% important to us. This is a great feature.”

    Eric S., Network Analyst at a recreational facilities/services company, states, "With its single pane of glass, it makes monitoring and troubleshooting a bit more homogeneous. We are not looking at multiple platforms and monitoring management tools. It is more efficient from that perspective. It is more of a common monitoring and control system for multiple aspects of what used to be different systems. It provides efficiency and time savings."

    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 Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls
    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
    SkiStar AB, Ada County, Global IT Services PSF, Southern Cross Hospitals, Verge Health, University of Portsmouth, Austrian Airlines, The Heinz Endowments
    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%
    Manufacturing Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider28%
    Computer Software Company21%
    Government7%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    Computer Software Company19%
    Comms Service Provider19%
    Financial Services Firm13%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company24%
    Comms Service Provider21%
    Government6%
    Energy/Utilities Company5%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Energy/Utilities 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 Business37%
    Midsize Enterprise30%
    Large Enterprise33%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business24%
    Midsize Enterprise19%
    Large Enterprise57%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise48%
    Buyer's Guide
    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls vs. pfSense
    May 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
    609,272 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls is ranked 7th in Firewalls with 77 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 61 reviews. Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls is rated 8.6, while pfSense is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls writes "The product stability and level of security are second to none in the industry". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls is most compared with Azure Firewall, Fortinet FortiGate, Check Point NGFW, Meraki MX and OPNsense, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall and Zyxel Unified Security Gateway. See our Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls 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.