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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.
608,713 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 valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy.""You do not have to do everything through a command line which makes it a lot easier to apply rules.""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.""The implementation is pretty straightforward.""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.""The Adversity Malware Protection (AMP) feature is the most valuable. It is also very easy to use. Every technical user can operate this solution without any difficulty. The dashboard of Cisco Firepower has every tool that a security operator needs. You can find every resource that you need to operate through this dashboard.""It's got the capabilities of amassing a lot of throughput with remote access and VPNs.""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."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros →

"Everything is easy in Palo Alto Networks NG Firewall. It is very stable, easy to configure, and easy to upgrade. It is also very easy to create custom policies and applications. Everything can be done with the click of a button. It is also good for the protection of web services. Nowadays, they have a rather new DNS security feature, which is pretty good and functional. We did a one-month trial, and it is the best product for the firewall network.""The ease of use and the ease of configuration of our policies are the most valuable features.""The interface and dashboards are good.""With App-ID, we can identify exact traffic. Even if someone tries to fool the firewall with a different port number, or with the correct port number, Palo Alto is able to identify what kind of traffic it is.""The interface is very nice. We generally like the UI the product offers.""I love the Policy Optimizer feature. I am also completely happy with its stability.""The most valuable features of this solution are all of the services it provides.""The most valuable feature is WildFire, which blocks sophisticated attacks and distinguishes it from other traditional firewall functions."

More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Pros →

"The main features of this solution are customization and ease to use.""I have found pfSense to be stable.""pfSense helped us during COVID-19 because we used OpenVPN to connect from home.""It's a good solution for end-users. It's pretty easy to work with.""The features I have found best are ease of use, GUI, and performance.""A valuable feature is that the solution is open source.""The solution has good customization abilities and plenty of features.""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."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"The reporting and other features are nice, but there is an issue with applying the configuration. That part needs some improvement.""The only drawback of the user interface is when it comes to policies. When you open it and click on the policies, you have to move manually left and right if you want to see the whole field within the cell. Checkpoint has a very detailed user interface.""The Firepower FTD code is missing some old ASA firewalls codes. It's a small thing. But Firepower software isn't missing things that are essential, anymore.""The visibility for VPN is one big part. The policy administration could be improved in terms of customizations and flexibility for changing it to our needs.""Cisco makes horrible UIs, so the interface is something that should be improved.""We're getting support but there's a big delay until we get a response from their technical team. They're in the USA and we're in Africa, so that's the difficulty. When they're in the office, they respond.""One issue with Firepower Management Center is deployment time. It takes seven to 10 minutes and that's a long time for deployment. In that amount of time, management or someone else can ask me to change something or to provide permissions, but during that time, doing so is not possible. It's a drawback with Cisco. Other vendors, like Palo Alto or Fortinet do not have this deployment time issue.""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."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons →

"There is a web-based GUI to do management, but you need to know how the machine or firewall operates. There are hundreds of different menus and options. I have used other firewalls before. Just implementing or designing a policy with Palo Alto, if you want a certain port to be open to different IP addresses, then that could take 20 to 25 clicks. That is just testing it out. It is quite complex to do. Whereas, with other places, you tell it, "Okay, I want this specific port open and this IP address to have access to it." That was it. However, not with Palo Alto, which is definitely more complex.""I would like the option to be able to block the traffic from a specific country in a few clicks.""I would like to see it provide us with intelligent information from the data that it captures, within the same cost.""For an upcoming release, they could improve on the way to build security rules per user.""We have a lot of the older firewall models, i.e., the PA-220. It seems that with newer operating systems the PA-220 is becoming slower than when I first bought it. It is not really an issue for users who are passing traffic through the firewall, but more from the management access of it.""I think automation and machine learning can be improved to make bulk configurations simpler, easier, and faster""With new features and applications you get bugs.""I would like them to bring in some features that would encourage traffic shaping or bandwidth routing, like other UTM firewalls, because the solution should be capable of limiting the bandwidth for rules."

More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Cons →

"Ultimately, we'd like something stronger, and something that can handle threats better in real-time.""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.""User interface is a little clumsy.""I would like to see pfSense integrate WireGuard. Currently, pfSense uses OpenVPN, and there's nothing wrong with it, but WireGuard is a lot leaner and meaner.""It's just not listed as FIPS compliant for where we're at now in government, which is an issue.""The VPN feature of the solution could improve by adding better functionality and providing easier configure ability.""They can improve the dynamic of the input of IPs from outside.""There could be a way to remote to it through a mobile app. You can always browse through your browser on your mobile phone or tablet, but it would be good to have a dedicated app. I understand that iOS and Android developers are expensive, but there should be a mobile app."

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.
    608,713 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.