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Sophos UTM vs pfSense comparison

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Q&A Highlights
Question: What Is The Biggest Difference Between Sophos and pfSense?
Answer: I'd agree with Karl's comment above. PfSense is a great product but treat it like a firewall and the big bonus is it's free. It's great at what it does. Sophos UTM on the other hand can be a beast as it's an all in one solution and can get as complex as you would like it. We have failover clustering, load balancing and make use of all of their proxies. Very easy to make initial configuration errors until you know the product and how traffic flows etc. It can also be fairly expensive with the subscriptions eg AV, sandstorm etc If you can afford it, go for Sophos but pfSense can also play it's part too.
Featured Review
Buyer's Guide
Sophos UTM vs. pfSense
March 2020
Find out what your peers are saying about Sophos UTM vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
621,548 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 is the Intrusion Prevention System.""Firepower has reduced our firewall operational costs by about 25 percent.""The implementation is pretty straightforward.""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.""The dashboard is the most important thing. It provides good visibility and makes management easy. Firepower also provides us with good application visibility and control.""The content filtering is good.""The solution offers very easy configurations.""Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Pros →

"It has a good web cache. I used to use a DHCP server and DNS server. For my company, I use pfSense as a load balancing application.""I mostly like all of it. Whatever we use is valuable.""The interface is straightforward and easy to use.""The initial setup was simple and fast.""I like the connectivity to the open VPN. It's very smooth.""The built-in open VPN and the VPN Client Export are the solution's most valuable aspects.""It is very easy to use. The interface is quite understandable. There is a good community, and I can take over at any time I want. If there is anything wrong with it, I could just reinstall the whole thing and start all over again, and I'll be up again in less than a few minutes""I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal."

More pfSense Pros →

"Technical support is very responsive.""The three most important features for us are web protection, web server protection, and network protection.""The initial setup is pretty easy.""The intrusion prevention is great, and I like dual virus scanning on the network layer because we scan it through Avira and Sophos. Web filtering is also a fantastic option for clients who want to really lock down internet access.""It is easy to manage.""Has great security features and does a good job of protecting the network.""This is a very stable product.""The most valuable feature is the price. I've been requesting prices all over these years between different solutions like Fortinet, Palo Alto, and Check Point and Sophos has been the cheapest and the best of all of them that I have tried. I have been working with Fortinet, it's a fact that the price is surprisingly better."

More Sophos UTM Pros →

Cons
"We only have an issue with time sync with Cisco ASA and NTP. If the time is out of sync, it will be a disaster for the failover.""I would like it to have faster deployment times. A typical deployment could take two to three minutes. Sometimes, it depends on the situation. It is better than it was in the past, but it could always use improvement.""A major area of improvement would be to have more functionality in public clouds, especially in terms of simplifying it. The high availability doesn't work right now because of the limitations in the cloud.""They need a VTI. I know it's going to be available in the next software version, which is the 6.7 version. However, the problem with that is that the 6.7 is going to deprecate all the older IKEv1 deployment tunnels. Therefore, the problem is that we have a lot of customers which are using older encryptions. If I do that, update it, it's not going to work for me.""FlexConfig is there as a bridge for features that are not yet natively integrated into Firepower. It is a way of allowing you to be able to configure things that wouldn't otherwise be possible until the development team can add them into Firepower's native capability. There is still some work that needs to be done around FlexConfig. There are still quite a few complex things, like policy-based routing, that have to be done in FlexConfig, and it doesn't always work perfectly. Sometimes, there are some glitches. It is recommended that you configure FlexConfig policies with Cisco TAC. It would be good to see Cisco accelerate some of those configurations that you can only do in FlexConfig into the platform, so that they are there natively.""The initial setup could be simplified, as it can be complex for new users.""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.""Licensing is complex, and I'd like it to be simplified. This is an area for improvement."

More Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Cons →

"It could use a little bit of improvement in the reporting.""It needs to be more secure.""They can improve the dynamic of the input of IPs from outside.""The solution could improve by having centralized management and API support online.""pfSense has some limitations in detecting site sessions. We want to control internet usage based on sites and their content, and pfSense doesn't perform this function.""Lacks instructional videos.""Web interface could be enhanced and more user friendly.""The main problem with pfSense is that we have to use proxy solutions."

More pfSense Cons →

"Sophos should improve its ability to check something like bandwidth consumption for users or something more real-time.""The integration capabilities could be better.""The classification segregation of applications lacks sufficient definition.""They could use more SSL VPN support.""The logs are not clear, which means that you need an additional piece of software in order to read them clearly.""I would like this solution to support ICAP. Also, they no longer support on-premises management, and are forcing clients to use centralized management via the cloud, which I don't agree with.""I would like to see Sophos UTM add support for all the new threat-detection technologies and the ability to respond to novel security threats that come along every day.""Sophos customer support could use some improvement."

More Sophos UTM 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 →

  • "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."
  • "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."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "It is the cheapest product available. It's good if you have a low budget."
  • "We pay for the service on a yearly basis. The last time we paid was in June, for a year. At the time, it was about $20,000."
  • "Our licensing fees are paid on a monthly basis."
  • "It's reasonably priced."
  • "This product is free for home users. The more expensive products have better performance."
  • "I think the pricing of Sophos is very fair."
  • "It is necessary to pay for a licence to use the solution, but it is not very expensive."
  • "The appliance should be purchased and there is a fee for the license."
  • More Sophos UTM Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Answers from the Community
    Anonymous User
    Luis Castro - PeerSpot reviewerLuis Castro
    Real User

    pfSense is opensource and has been the last 10 years in the top 10 best
    firewall solutions in the world, it is free, stable, scalable, and easy to
    administer ... and above all very safe, since it is one of the few systems
    that could have been violated. It's free.

    Bob Alfson - PeerSpot reviewerBob Alfson
    User

    In fact, Karl, the 50-IP free version is for home use only, and not even then if it also protects business assets. You did a great job of explaining the difference, so I won't comment further.

    To the original poster, it's cheaper to hire a Sophos consultant to create your original configuration. It costs twice as much to get a configuration "repaired" that wasn't correctly designed. A Sophos Solution Partner that has a Sophos Certified Architect with plenty of experience and good referrals is probably your best bet.

    Cesar Reza - PeerSpot reviewerCesar Reza
    Reseller

    With Sophos is easy to configure and you have the support from the frabicant, with pfSense you have to learn from the community and learning curve is a little hard, last occasion with pfSense it don't have support for vpn dynamic, with Sophos they have RED equipment that is an extension from the core, only you need the serial number from the remote equipment and you have the vpn , both are great equipment and software, depend of the budget, pfSense is free and they have support if you pay the license very cheap

    Karl Hart, Acse, Ceh, Chfi, Cissp - PeerSpot reviewerKarl Hart, Acse, Ceh, Chfi, Cissp
    Real User

    pfSense is just a basic firewall with VPN and Captive Portal functionality but does its job great. Only needs minimum resources to function. Price is right (FREE)
    Sophos UTM is much more, hence the UTM. It does firewall, advance threat protection, VPN, Secure web gateway, email protection (AV, Spam, Encryption, and DLP), endpoint protection, Mobile Device control, Web Application Firewall, User Portal, built in reporting, and central management. It does require more resources but you get a lot more out of it. Two options depending on the size of your office, commercial version or the Free version that you can build on your own hardware. The free version is restricted to 50 IP addresses. (https://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-utm-home-edition.aspx)
    I have used both and both have their place but using Sophos in my environment just because it offers a lot more functionality, nice dashboard, reports, and easy to use through the GUI.

    FrankWhite - PeerSpot reviewerFrankWhite
    Real User

    One other big difference is that pfSense is FreeBSD based while Sophos UTM is linux based. It is also worth having a lool on cacheguard which is a proxy oriented product and also Linux based.

    reviewer772704 - PeerSpot reviewerreviewer772704 (IT Manager with 51-200 employees)
    User

    I´m afraid I am not able to help in this matter. We´ve decided to for FortiGate as services, based on our relationship with our IT security provider and the FortiGate reviews available on the net.

    We used to use pfSence for one particular open network but let the full control on de FortiGate. During the investigation and analysis period we thought of Sophos but felt more comfortable going for FortiGate pretty much based on price and our relationship with our IT security provider. Hence my experience wouldn´t help in this case.

    My best advice would is to refer to the article available on:
    https://www.itcentralstation.com/products/comparisons/pfsense_vs_sophos-utm

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    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco Firepower NGFW, Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, FirePOWER, Cisco NGFWv
    Astaro
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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. "

    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."



    Sophos UTM is a unified threat management platform designed to protect your businesses from known and emerging malware including viruses, rootkits and spyware. The solution provides a complete network security package with everything your organization needs in a single modular appliance.

    Sophos UTM Features

    Sophos UTM has many valuable key features. Some of the most useful ones include:

    • Web and Email Filtering
    • General Management
    • Network Protection
    • Network Routing and Services
    • Advanced Threat Protection
    • Authentication
    • Email Encryption and DLP
    • Web Policy
    • End-User Portal
    • VPN IPsec Client, VPN SSL Client, and Clientless VPN
    • Web Application Firewall Protection
    • UTM Endpoint Protection and Management
    • SEC Endpoint Integration
    • Logging and Reporting

    Sophos UTM Benefits

    There are many benefits to implementing Sophos UTM. Some of the biggest advantages the solution offers include:

    • Simplifies your IT security without the complexity of multiple point solutions
    • Intuitive interface to help you quickly create policies to control security risks
    • Provides clear, detailed reports to give you the insight you need to improve your network performance and protection
    • Complete control to block, allow, shape and prioritize applications
    • Two-factor authentication with one-time password (OTP)
    • Integrated wireless controller
    • Allows you to connect remote offices with easy VPN and Wi-Fi

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by PeerSpot users currently using the Sophos UTM solution.

    PeerSpot user Dana B., Network Administrator at a manufacturing company, says “The web and email filtering are the two biggest and most valuable aspects of the solution for us. The solution overall has just been a good, cost-effective solution for us. The solution offers a lot of functionality. The solution scales well. We've found the technical support to be helpful. The stability and performance are quite good.”

    A Technical Director at a security firm mentions, "Sophos SG UTM had all the basic functionality that you needed. It is user-friendly and easy to manage for any integrator."

    Marek M., Senior Network Engineer at a computer software company, comments, “Sophos UTM is the simplest of these products to set up. If you follow the instructions using the wizard, which is just a few steps, then you will have a firewall to protect you and your customer.”

    A Software Sales Manager at a tech services company explains, “The overall visibility of the console is what I find most valuable, plus it's very user-friendly. It can be integrated with other solutions such as SOAR, SIEM, etc., even when you have an existing firewall. I really like that the console can be integrated. You'll see everything on the same window, and the single window feature of the machine is so good. These are the features I really like.”

    James D., IT Manager at Manual Workers Union, states, “The fact that it's on the cloud means we don't have to administer it on our network or deal with a physical machine, which saves us money. The solution has many great features. From the console, we can start different scannings on different machines. We enjoy the centralized reporting part of it. The initial setup is simple. We enjoy its general stability. The solution can scale. So far, the solution has been problem-free.”

    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
    Learn more about pfSense
    Learn more about Sophos UTM
    Sample Customers
    Rackspace, The French Laundry, Downer Group, Lewisville School District, Shawnee Mission School District, Lower Austria Firefighters Administration, Oxford Hospital, SugarCreek, Westfield
    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
    One Housing Group
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider19%
    Financial Services Firm17%
    Government13%
    Computer Software Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider29%
    Computer Software Company20%
    Government7%
    Manufacturing Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    University12%
    Marketing Services Firm10%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Construction Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider41%
    Computer Software Company14%
    Government6%
    Educational Organization4%
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider13%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Financial Services Firm13%
    Government8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider35%
    Computer Software Company18%
    Government8%
    Retailer4%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business40%
    Midsize Enterprise25%
    Large Enterprise35%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business26%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise55%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise49%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business62%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise18%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise49%
    Buyer's Guide
    Sophos UTM vs. pfSense
    March 2020
    Find out what your peers are saying about Sophos UTM vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
    621,548 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    pfSense is ranked 2nd in Firewalls with 58 reviews while Sophos UTM is ranked 1st in Unified Threat Management (UTM) with 35 reviews. pfSense is rated 8.6, while Sophos UTM is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Sophos UTM writes "Great web and email filtering with reasonable pricing". pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall and Zyxel Unified Security Gateway, whereas Sophos UTM is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Untangle NG Firewall, Sophos XG, OPNsense and Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls. See our Sophos UTM vs. pfSense report.

    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.