10 Best Firewalls for Small & Medium Business Networks in 2023


Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly becoming targets for cyber attacks. According to Verizon, about 61 percent of SMBs reported at least one cyber attack in 2021. Worse, Joe Galvin, chief research officer at Vistage, reported that about 60 percent of small businesses fold within six months of a cyber attack.

To protect your network from potential threats, you need a reliable and effective firewall solution. This tool will act as the first line of defense against unauthorized access and can help prevent malicious attacks from infiltrating a business’s network.

We reviewed the top SMB firewall solutions to help you determine the best one for your business.

Top SMB firewall software comparison

 Best forIPSContent filteringStarting price
Perimeter 81Best overallYesYes$8 per user per month, billed annually
pfSenseOpen sourceYesYes$0.01 per hour 
Comodo Free FirewallWindows PCsYesYesFree
ManageEngine Firewall AnalyzerLog, policy, and firewall configuration managementYesYes$395 per device
Fortinet FortiGateHybrid workforcesYesYesApprox. $335
SonicWall TZ400 Security FirewallAdvanced threat protectionYesYesApprox. $1,000–$1,500
Cisco Meraki MX68Small branches with up to 50 usersYesYesApprox $640
Sophos XGS SeriesRemote workersYesYesApprox. $520
Protectli Vault – 4 PortBuilding your own OPNsense or pfSense router and firewallYesYes$269 for FW4B – 4x 1G Port Intel J3160
OPNSenseFlexibilityYesYesFree, or $170.46/yr for business ed.

Jump to:

Perimeter81 icon

Perimeter 81

Best overall

Founded in 2018, Perimeter 81 is a cloud and network security company that provides organizations with a secure and unified platform for accessing and managing their applications and data.

It provides many security solutions, including firewall as a service (FWaaS), secure web gateway (SWG), zero trust network access (ZTNA), malware protection, software-defined perimeter, VPN-alternative and secure access service edge (SASE) capabilities, to ensure that data is secure and accessible to authorized personnel. It also provides centralized management and user access monitoring, enabling organizations to monitor and control user activity across the network.

Perimeter 81 provides granular access control policies that enable organizations to define and enforce access rules for their network resources based on the user’s identity, device type, and other contextual factors—making it easy for employees to access the company’s resources without compromising security.


Pricing plansMinimum usersCost per month, plus gateway costCost per year, plus gateway costCloud firewallAgentless application accessDevice posture check
Essential10$10 per user, plus $50 per month per gateway$8 per user, plus $40 per month per gatewayNo2 applicationsNo
Premium10$12 per user, plus $50 per month per gateway$15 per user, plus $40 per month per gateway10 policies10 applications3 profiles
Premium Plus20$16 per user, plus $50 per month per gateway$20 per user, plus $40 per month per gateway100 policies100 applications20 profiles
Enterprise50Custom quotesCustom quotesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited


  • Identity-based access for devices and users.
  • Network segmentation.
  • OS and application-level security and mutual TLS encryption.
  • Enable traffic encryption enforcement, 2FA, Single Sign-On, DNS filtering, and authentication.


  • Provides visibility into the company network.
  • Allows employee access from on-premise.
  • Automatic Wi-Fi security.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Low and mid-tiered plans lack phone support.
  • Limited support for Essential, Premium, and Premium Plus.
pfSense icon


Best open-source-driven firewall

pfSense is an open-source firewall/router network security solution based on FreeBSD. Featuring firewall, router, VPN, and DHCP servers, pfSense is a highly customizable tool that can be used in various network environments, from small home networks to large enterprise networks.

The tool supports multiple WAN connections, failover and load balancing, and traffic shaping, which can help optimize network performance. pfSense can be used on computers, network appliances, and embedded systems to provide a wide range of networking services.


pfSense pricing varies based on your chosen medium—cloud, software, or hardware appliances.

For pfSense cloud:

  • pfSense on AWS: Pricing starts from $0.01 per hour to $0.40 per hour.
  • pfSense on Azure: Pricing starts from $0.08 per hour to $0.24 per hour.

For pfSense software:

  • pfSense CE: Open source version available to download for free.
  • pfSense+ Home or Lab: Available at no cost for evaluation purposes only.
  • pfSense+ W/TAC LITE: Currently available at no charge, but vendor may increase rate to $129 per year in the future. 
  • pfSense+ W/TAC PRO: $399 per year.
  • pfSense+ W/TAC ENT: $799 per year.

For pfSense appliances:

pfSense+ appliancesDevice costBest forFirewall speed (IPERF3 TRAFFIC)Firewall speed
Netgate 1100$189Home607 Mbps(10k ACLs)191 Mbps(10k ACLs)
Netgate 2100$349Home
Home Pro
Branch/Small Business
964 Mbps(10k ACLs)249 Mbps(10k ACLs)
Netgate 4100$599Home Pro
Branch/Small Business
Medium Business
4.09 Gbps(10k ACLs)1.40 Gbps(10k ACLs)
Netgate 6100$799Home Pro
Branch/Small Business
Medium Business
9.93 Gbps(10k ACLs)2.73 Gbps(10k ACLs)
Netgate 8200$1,395Branch/Small Business
Medium Business
Large Business
18.55 Gbps5.1 Gbps
Netgate 1537$2,199Medium Business
Large Business
Data Center
18.62 Gbps(10k ACLs)10.24 Gbps(10k ACLs)
Netgate 1541$2,899Medium Business
Large Business
Data Center
18.64 Gbps(10k ACLs)12.30 Gbps(10k ACLs)


  • Stateful packet inspection (SPI).
  • IP/DNS-based filtering.
  • Captive portal guest network.
  • Time-based rules.
  • NAT mapping (inbound/outbound).


  • Anti-spoofing capability.
  • Connection limits option.
  • Community support.


  • The tool’s open-source version support is limited to community or forum. It lacks remote login support, private login support, a private support portal, email, telephone, and tickets.
  • Complex initial setup for inexperienced users.
Comodo icon

Comodo Free Firewall

Best for Windows PCs

Comodo Firewall is a free firewall software designed to protect computers from unauthorized access and malicious software by monitoring all incoming and outgoing network traffic. 

The firewall features packet filtering, intrusion detection and prevention, and application control. It also includes a “sandbox” feature that allows users to run potentially risky applications in a protected environment without risking damage to the underlying system. 

The software works seamlessly with other Comodo products, such as Comodo Antivirus and Comodo Internet Security.


Comodo is free to download and use. The vendor recommends adding its paid antivirus product (Comodo Internet Security Pro) to its firewall for added security. The antivirus costs $29.99 per year for one PC or $39.99 per year for three PCs. 


  • Auto sandbox technology.
  • Cloud-based behavior analysis. 
  • Cloud-based allowlisting. 
  • Supports all Windows OS versions since Windows XP (Note: Windows 11 support forthcoming).
  • Website filtering.
  • Virtual desktop.


  • Monitors in/out connections.
  • Learn user behavior to deliver personalized protection.
  • Real-time malware protection.


  • Lacks modern user interface.
  • Pop-up notifications—some users may find the frequent alerts generated by the software annoying and intrusive.
ManageEngine icon

ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer

Best for log, policy, and firewall configuration management

ManageEngine Firewall Analyzer is a web-based log analytics and configuration management software for firewall devices. 

It provides real-time visibility into network activity and helps organizations identify network threats, malicious traffic, and policy violations. It supports various firewalls, including Cisco ASA, Palo Alto, Juniper SRX, Check Point, SonicWall, and Fortinet. 

Firewall Analyzer helps monitor network security, analyze the security posture of the network, and ensure compliance with security policies. It also provides reports, dashboards, and automated alerting to ensure the network remains secure.


The amount you will pay for this tool depends on the edition you choose and the number of devices in your organization. 

You can download the enterprise edition’s 30-day free trial to test-run it and learn more about its capabilities. It’s available in two versions: Windows OS or Linux. You can also download it for mobile devices, including iPhone devices and Android phones or tablets.

  • Standard Edition: Starts at $395 per device, up to 60 devices.
  • Professional Edition: Starts at $595 per device, up to 60 devices.
  • Enterprise Edition: Starts at $8,395 for 20 devices, up to 1,200 devices.


  • Firewall rules report and firewall device audit report.
  • Regulatory compliance with standards such as ISO, PCI-DSS, NERC-CIP, SANS, and NIST.
  • Network behavioral anomaly alert.
  • Security reports for viruses, attacks, spam, denied hosts, and event summaries.
  • Historical configuration change tracking.
  • Bandwidth report for live bandwidth, traffic analyzer, URL monitor, and employee internet usage.
  • Compatible with over 70 firewall versions.


  • Excellent technical support.
  • Users praise its reporting capability.
  • In-depth auditing with aggregated database entries capability.
  • VPN and security events analysis.


  • Complex initial setup.
  • Users reported that the tool is occasionally slow.
Fortinet icon

Fortinet FortiGate

Best for hybrid workforces

Fortinet FortiGate is a network security platform that offers a broad range of security and networking services for enterprises of all sizes. It provides advanced threat protection, secure connectivity, and secure access control. It also provides advanced firewall protection, application control, and web filtering. 

Business owners can use Fortinet’s super-handy small business product selector to determine the best tool for their use cases. 

Small and mid-sized businesses may find the following FortiGate’s model suitable for their needs:

 IPSNGFWThreat ProtectionInterfacesSeries
FortiGate 80F1.4 Gbps1 Gbps900 MbpsMultiple GE RJ45 | Variants with PoE, DSL,3G4G, WiFi and/or storageFG-80F, FG-80F-PO, FG-80F-Bypass, FG-81F, FG-81F-PO, FG-80F-DSL, FWF-81F-2R-POE, FWF-81, F-2R-3G4G-POE, FWF-80F/81F-2R, and FWF-80F/81F-2R-3G4G-DSL
FortiGate 70F 1.4 Gbps1 Gbps800 MbpsMultiple GE RJ45 | Variants with internalstorageFG-70F and FG-71F
FortiGate 60F 1.4 Gbps1 Gbps700 MbpsMultiple GE RJ45 | Variants with internalstorage | WiFi variantsFG-60F, FG-61F, FWF-60F, and FWF-61F
FortiGate 40F 1 Gbps800 Mbps 600 MbpsMultiple GE RJ45 | WiFi variantsFG-40F, FG-40F-3G4G, FWF-40F, FWF-40F-3G4G

Fortinet FortiGate is compatible with several operating systems and can easily be integrated into existing networks. 


Unfortunately, Fortinet doesn’t publish their prices. Reseller prices start around $335 for the FortiGate 40F with no support. Contact Fortinet’s sales team for quotes.


  • Offers AI-powered security services, including web, content, and device security, plus advanced tools for SOC/NOC.
  • Continuous risk assessment. 
  • Threat protection capability.


  • Top-rated firewall by NSS Labs.
  • Intrusion prevention.


  • According to user reviews, the CLI is somewhat complex.
  • Complex initial setup.
SonicWall icon

SonicWall TZ400 Security Firewall

Best for advanced threat protection

The SonicWall TZ400 is a mid-range, enterprise-grade security firewall designed to protect small to midsize businesses. It supports up to 150,000 maximum connections, 6,000 new connections per second, and 7×1-Gbe. 

The TZ400 features 1.3 Gbps firewall inspection throughput, 1.2 Gbps application inspection throughput, 900 Mbps IPS throughput, 900 Mbps VPN throughput, and 600 Mbps threat prevention throughput. 


This product’s pricing is not available on the Sonicwall website. However, resellers such as CDW, Staples, and Office Depot typically sell it in the $1,000–$1,500 range. You can request a quote for your particular use case directly from Sonicwall.


  • Deep memory inspection.
  • Single-pane-of-glass management and reporting.
  • SSL/TLS decryption and inspection.
  • SD-WAN and zero-touch deployment capabilities.


  • Optional PoE and Wi-Fi options.
  • DDoS attack protection (UDP/ICMP/SYN flood).
  • Fast performance with gigabit and multi-gigabit Ethernet interfaces.
  • Protects against intrusion, malware, and ransomware.
  • High-performance IPS, VPN, and threat prevention throughput.
  • Efficient ​​firewall inspection and application inspection throughput.


  • Support can be improved.
  • It can be difficult to configure for inexperienced users.
Cisco icon

Cisco Meraki MX68

Best for small branches with up to 50 users

The Cisco Meraki MX68 is a security appliance designed for SMBs. It’s part of the Cisco Meraki MX series of cloud-managed security appliances that provide network security, content filtering, intrusion prevention, and application visibility and control.

The MX68 is equipped with advanced security features such as a stateful firewall, VPN, and intrusion prevention system (IPS) to protect your network from cyber attacks. The MX68 has a variety of ports and interfaces, including LAN and WAN ports and a USB port for 3G/4G failover. It also supports multiple WAN uplinks, providing redundancy and failover options to ensure your network remains online and available.


The Cisco Meraki MX68 pricing isn’t listed on the company’s website, but resellers typically list it starting around $640. You can request a demo, free trial, or quotes by contacting the Cisco sales team.


  • Centralized management via web-based dashboard or API.
  • Intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS).
  • Next-generation layer 7 firewalls and content filtering.
  • SSL decryption/inspection, data loss prevention (DLP), and cloud access security broker (CASB).
  • Instant wired failover with added 3G/4G failover via a USB modem.


  • Remote browser isolation, granular app control, and SaaS tenant restrictions.
  • Support for native IPsec or Cisco AnyConnect remote client VPN.
  • Provides unified management for security, SD-WAN, Wi-Fi, switching, mobile device management (MDM), and internet of things (IoT)


  • The license cost is somewhat high.
  • Support can be improved.
Sophos icon

Sophos XGS Series

Best for remote workers

Sophos XGS Series Desktop is a range of network security appliances designed to provide comprehensive protection for SMBs. These appliances combine several security technologies, including firewall, intrusion prevention, VPN, web filtering, email filtering, and application control, to provide a robust and integrated security solution.

Here’s a comparison table of the Sophos XGS series firewalls:

 FirewallTLS inspectionIPSIPSEC VPNNGFWFirewall IMIXThreat protectionLatency (64 byte UDP)
XGS Desktop Models3,850 Mbps375 Mbps1,200 Mbps3,000 Mbps700 Mbps3,000 Mbps280 Mbps6 µs
XGS 107 / 107w7,000 Mbps420 Mbps1,500 Mbps4,000 Mbps1,050 Mbps3,750 Mbps370 Mbps6 µs
XGS 116 / 116w7,700 Mbps650 Mbps2,500 Mbps4,800 Mbps2,000 Mbps4,500 Mbps720 Mbps8 µs
126/126w10,500 Mbps800 Mbps3,250 Mbps5,500 Mbps2,500 Mbps5,250 Mbps900 Mbps8 µs
136/136w11,500 Mbps950 Mbps4,000 Mbps6,350 Mbps3,000 Mbps6,500 Mbps1,000 Mbps8 µs

The Sophos XGS Series Desktop appliances are available in several models with varying performance capabilities, ranging from entry-level models suitable for small offices to high-performance models suitable for large enterprises. They are designed to be easy to deploy and manage, with a user-friendly web interface and centralized management capabilities.


Sophos doesn’t advertise the pricing for their XGS Series Desktop appliances online, but they typically retail starting at about $520 from resellers. 

Potential customers are encouraged to request a free trial and pricing information by filling out a form on the “Get Pricing” page of their website.


  • Centralized management and reporting.
  • Wireless, SD-WAN, application aware routing, and traffic shaping capability.
  • SD-WAN orchestration.
  • Advanced web and zero-day threat protection.


  • Zero-touch deployment.
  • Lateral movement protection.
  • Users find the tool scalable.


  • Performance limitations.
  • Support can be improved.
Protectli icon

Protectli Vault – 4 Port

Best for building your own OPNsense or pfSense router and firewall

The Protectli Vault is a small form-factor network appliance designed to act as a firewall, router, or other network gateway. The 4-Port version has four gigabit Intel Ethernet NIC ports, making it ideal for SMB or home networks.

The device is powered by a low-power Intel processor and can run a variety of open-source firewall and router operating systems, such as pfSense, OPNsense, or Untangle. It comes with 8GB DDR3 RAM and up to 32GB DDR4 RAM. 

The Protectli Vault is designed to be fanless, silent, and compact, making it ideal for use in the home or office environments where noise and space may be an issue. It’s also designed to be energy-efficient, consuming only a few watts of power, which can save businesses considerable amounts of money on energy costs over time.


The amount you will pay for this tool depends on the model you select and your desired configuration. The rates below are starting prices; your actual rate may vary based on your configuration. Note that all these items ship free to U.S. addresses.

  • VP2410 – 4x 1G Port Intel J4125: Starts at $329.
  • VP2420 – 4x 2.5G Port Intel J6412: Starts at $379.
  • FW4B – 4x 1G Port Intel J3160: Starts at $269.
  • FW4C – 4x 2.5G Port Intel J3710: Starts at $289.


  • Solid-state and fanless tool.
  • Provides 2.5 GB ports unit.
  • AES-NI, VPN, and coreboot options.


  • A 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Transparent pricing.
  • Coreboot support.
  • CPU supports AES-NI.


  • Steep learning curve.
OPNSense icon


Best for flexibility 

OPNsense is a free and open-source firewall and routing platform based on the FreeBSD OS. It was forked from the popular pfSense and m0n0wall project in 2014 and was officially released in January 2015.

OPNsense provides a modular design that allows users to easily add or remove functionality based on their needs. 

OPNsense is popular among IT professionals and network administrators who need a flexible and customizable firewall and routing platform that they can tailor to their specific needs. It’s also a good choice for small businesses and home users who want to improve their networks’ security without spending a lot of money on commercial solutions.


OPNSense is a free, open source tool. It is available in two editions: Community edition and business edition. You can download the community version at no cost. For the business version, a one-year subscription costs $170.46 per year.


  • High availability and hardware failover.
  • Intrusion detection and prevention.
  • Captive portal.
  • VPN (site-to-site and road warrior, IPsec, OpenVPN, and legacy PPTP support).
  • Built-in reporting and monitoring tools, including RRD Graphs.


  • Free, open source.
  • Traffic shaper.
  • Support for plugins.
  • Multi-language support, including English, Czech, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


  • Reporting capability can be improved.
  • The interface can be improved.

Key features of SMB firewalls

Firewalls designed for SMBs share many of the same characteristics as their enterprise-grade cousins—such as firewall rule and policy configuration, content filtering, reporting and analytics—while placing additional emphasis on affordability and ease of use.

Firewall rules and policies

Administrators should be able to set up firewall rules and policies that control traffic flow and block or permit traffic based on various criteria, such as source/destination IP addresses, ports, and protocols. 

These rules and policies can be used to control the types of applications, services, and data that are allowed to traverse the network, as well as create restrictions on access. 

Firewall rules and policies are essential to the security of a network, as they provide the first line of defense against malicious attacks.

Content filtering

Content filtering is the process of blocking or restricting certain types of content from entering or leaving a network. It can be used to block websites, applications, or data that may contain malicious or unwanted content, such as malware, viruses, or pornographic material. 

Content filtering is typically implemented using a combination of hardware and software solutions. Hardware solutions, such as routers and switches, can be configured to block certain types of traffic or data or to restrict access to certain websites or applications. Software solutions, such as firewall rules and policies, can also be used to block or restrict certain types of content.

Reporting and analytics 

Reporting and analytics are essential for any business network, as they provide important insights into the health and security of the network. Firewall reporting and analytics features allow network administrators to identify trends, detect potential threats, and analyze the performance of the network over time.

Reporting and analytics can also be used to identify any areas of the network that may be vulnerable to attack, as well as identify any areas where the network may not be performing optimally.


For SMBs, affordability is a key factor when it comes to purchasing a firewall. SMB firewalls are typically more affordable than enterprise firewalls and can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars, so it is important to consider your budget when selecting a firewall.

Some SMB firewalls offer additional features for a fee, so consider what features are necessary for your network and the ones you can do without, as this will help you decide on the most cost-effective firewall solution. At the same time, be careful not to cut corners—your business’s data is too important to be insufficiently protected.

Ease of use and support

For SMBs, finding a firewall solution that is easy to use and has good support is essential. Firewalls should be easy to configure and manage so the network administrator can quickly and easily make changes as needed.

Additionally, good support should be available for any issues or questions that arise. This support should include an online knowledge base and access to technical support staff that can assist with any questions or problems, ideally 24/7.

How to choose the best SMB firewall software for your business

When shopping for the best SMB firewall software for your business, look for software that offers the features you need, easy installation and management, scalability to grow with your business, minimal impact on network performance, and an affordable price.

It’s also important to choose a vendor with a good reputation in the industry, backed up by positive reviews and customer feedback.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is an SMB firewall?

An SMB firewall is a type of network security device that is designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s used to protect networks from unauthorized access, malicious attacks, and other security threats.

What features should I look for in an SMB firewall?

Above all you need a solution with a strong security profile. Look for specific security measures such as:

  • Intrusion prevention
  • Content filtering
  • Malware protection
  • Application control
  • Traffic shaper 

Other factors to consider include ease of management, scalability, and cost.

Do small businesses need a firewall?

Yes, small businesses need a firewall. It provides an essential layer of network security that helps protect against unauthorized access, malware, and other security threats. Without a firewall, small businesses are vulnerable to attacks that could compromise sensitive data, cause network downtime, and damage their reputation.

How much does a firewall cost for SMBs?

The cost of an SMB firewall can vary widely depending on the features, capabilities, and brand of the firewall. Generally, SMB firewalls can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

How many firewalls do you need for a small business?

The number of firewalls needed for a small business will depend on the size and complexity of the network. In many cases, a single firewall may be sufficient to protect the entire network. However, in larger networks, it may be necessary to deploy multiple firewalls to provide adequate protection.

Factors such as network segmentation, geographic location, and compliance requirements may also influence the number of firewalls needed. It’s best to consult with a network security expert to determine the appropriate number of firewalls for your small business.


We analyzed dozens of SMB firewall software and narrowed down our list to the top ten. We gathered primary data—including pricing details, features, support, and more—from each tool provider’s website, as well as third-party reviews. We selected each software based on five key data points: security, ease of use, affordability, quality of service, and user satisfaction.

Bottom line: Choosing an SMB firewall

The solutions we evaluated are some of the best SMB firewalls currently available on the market. They are designed to provide SMBs with advanced security features, easy management, and scalability at affordable rates.

If your business is growing fast and you need an enterprise-grade network firewall solution, we also reviewed the best firewall software for enterprise networks.

Read our complete guide to designing and configuring a firewall policy for your organization, complete with a free, downloadable template.

Source :

7 Best Firewall Software Solutions: 2023 Firewall Comparison


In the fast-paced realm of cyberspace where threats continue to multiply, firewall software represents a critical line of defense for businesses of all sizes.

Such programs function as digital gatekeepers, regulating the flow of inbound and outbound network traffic according to a set of rules defined by the user.

With the continued rise of data breaches, investing in the best firewall software isn’t a mere consideration; it’s a necessity.

That’s why we researched, analyzed, and selected the best firewall software solutions for 2023:

Best firewall software comparison

Before delving into each firewall software’s in-depth review, let’s take a quick overview of what each product offers via a comparison chart:

Comprehensive security suiteScalabilityUser-friendly interfaceRobust featuresCloud-based managementOpen-sourceStarting price
Norton$49.99 for 5 devices for the first year
FortiGate$250/year for home office
GlassWireFree, or $2.99/month/license
Cisco Secure Firewall Management CenterContact Cisco
Sophos FirewallContact Sophos
ZoneAlarmFree, or $22.95/year for 1 PC

Jump to:

Norton icon


Best for a comprehensive security suite

Norton is a household name in cybersecurity that has long been delivering top-tier firewall software that signifies its wealth of experience in the sector.

The standout attribute of Norton is its comprehensive security suite, going beyond basic firewall protection to incorporate a smart firewall and intrusion prevention system (IPS), antivirus capabilities, identity theft protection, and even a VPN offering.

All that adds up to a holistic solution for businesses desiring a single-stop security software.


Norton’s Smart Firewall is included in Norton 360, whose pricing plans at the time of writing are:

  • Deluxe: $49.99 for the first year for 5 PCs, Macs, tablets, or phones.
  • Select + LifeLock: $99.99 for the first year for 10 PCs, Macs, tablets, or phones.
  • Advantage + LifeLock: $191.88 for the first year for 10 PCs, Macs, tablets, or phones.
  • Ultimate Plus + LifeLock: $299.88 for the first year for unlimited PCs, Macs, tablets, or phones.


  • Advanced smart firewall with customizable rules, allowing businesses to modify access based on their specific needs, thus providing a higher level of personalized security.
  • Integrated VPN for safe browsing ensures users can access the internet securely without worrying about potential threats or privacy breaches.
  • Identity theft protection is another vital feature, which helps safeguard sensitive personal and business data from potential hackers.
  • SafeCam feature prevents unauthorized access to your webcam, thwarting any potential spying or privacy intrusions.
  • Automatic updates ensure that your protection is always up-to-date, reinforcing defenses against new and evolving threats.


  • Norton offers a comprehensive security suite, providing a broad spectrum of protective measures beyond the typical firewall, creating a fortified line of defense against a myriad of cyber threats.
  • The interface is easy to navigate, making the process of setting up and managing the firewall less complex and more user-friendly, even for those with limited technical knowledge.
  • It provides 24/7 customer support, ensuring that you’ll have access to assistance whenever you need it, regardless of the hour or day.


  • While perfect for small to mid-sized businesses, Norton might not be as scalable for larger businesses with a vast network of devices, potentially limiting its effectiveness in such an environment.
  • Depending on your requirements, the subscription can become expensive with add-ons, which might be a drawback for businesses on a tight budget.
Fortinet icon


Best for scalability

Fortinet is a well-regarded player in the cybersecurity arena and its firewall software exemplifies its commitment to delivering high-quality solutions. FortiGate, Fortinet’s firewall offering, is recognized for its advanced firewall solutions that are scalable and robust.

Particularly useful for growing businesses, FortiGate brings forward top-notch features that can effortlessly adapt to the needs of expanding network infrastructures.


Fortinet offers a variety of solutions priced broadly to accommodate all business sizes—from $250 for home office to $300,000 for large enterprises. Contact Fortinet for accurate pricing information.


  • FortiGate offers an advanced firewall with extensive protection against incoming threats, thus maintaining the security of your network.
  • With scalability at its core, FortiGate can adapt and grow along with your business, addressing increasing security demands seamlessly.
  • Smooth integration with other Fortinet security solutions, enabling a comprehensive security ecosystem for your business.
  • FortiGate Cloud-Native Firewall offers high resiliency to ease security delivery across cloud networks and availability zones at scale.
  • Automatic updates keep the firewall current and equipped to deal with the latest threats, ensuring your network’s protection remains robust.


  • Fortinet’s robust firewall features deliver comprehensive security for your network, providing the necessary defenses to ward off potential threats.
  • With a strong focus on scalability, Fortinet is an ideal choice for rapidly growing businesses that need a security solution to match their expanding network.
  • The software’s high-performance nature means that it delivers robust security without hampering your network’s speed or efficiency.


  • Despite (or because of) offering a wealth of features, Fortinet’s interface may not be as user-friendly as some other options, potentially causing difficulties for those without substantial technical knowledge.
  • While Fortinet offers a range of pricing options, the cost can quickly escalate for larger networks or when additional features are included, which may not suit budget-conscious businesses.
  • Pricing information is not transparent and requires negotiation. Your mileage may vary.
GlassWire icon


Best for user-friendly interface

GlassWire is an elegant and visually appealing firewall software that provides comprehensive network monitoring capabilities.

It uniquely combines a network monitor and firewall, offering users a clear visual representation of their network activity. This functionality helps users to understand their online behavior and potential threats in a way that’s easy to interpret.


GlassWire offers a tiered pricing model:

  • Free: provides limited features, perfect for individual users or small businesses.
  • Premium: Starts at $2.99 per month per license, paid annually. Its premium tier plans suitable for business range between 10 and 200 licenses.


  • Real-time and detailed visualization of your current and past network activity, offering an intuitive and easy-to-understand representation of what’s happening on your network.
  • Built-in firewall that allows users to easily monitor applications using the network and block any suspicious activity, providing a comprehensive network security solution.
  • A unique “Incognito” mode for users who do not want certain network activities to appear on the network graph, ensuring user privacy.
  • Firewall profiles to instantly switch between different environments, such as public and private networks.
  • The network time machine feature allows users to go back in time up to 30 days to see what their computer or server was doing in the past.


  • GlassWire offers a beautifully designed, user-friendly interface that presents complex network security information in a visually appealing and understandable way.
  • Its comprehensive network monitoring capability allows users to understand their online behavior, identify patterns and detect anomalies.
  • The software’s built-in firewall offers users the flexibility to control which applications can access the network, enhancing the overall security of their systems.


  • The software requires a moderate amount of system resources to run efficiently, which might be an issue for systems with limited resources.
  • Although GlassWire’s visualizations are beautiful and informative, some users may find them overwhelming and would prefer a more traditional interface.
Cisco icon

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center

Best for centralized management and control

The Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center provides a comprehensive solution for centralized control and management of security policies. It enhances the overall efficiency of network administration by offering a unified platform to manage multiple Cisco security appliances.

Businesses that use a variety of Cisco security tools will find this a valuable addition to streamline operations and enhance control.


Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center’s pricing depends on the scale of operations and the specific needs of a business. For detailed and customized pricing information, you can directly contact Cisco or its partners.


  • A unified management console that can control a wide range of Cisco security appliances, reducing the complexity associated with managing multiple devices.
  • Advanced threat detection and analysis capabilities, enabling administrators to swiftly identify and respond to security incidents.
  • Flexible deployment options, including on-premises, virtual and cloud-based solutions, catering to various operational needs and preferences.
  • Comprehensive policy management, allowing administrators to efficiently establish and enforce security policies across their Cisco security infrastructure.
  • Integration with other Cisco security tools, such as Cisco Threat Response, provides a cohesive and powerful security solution.


  • The ability to manage multiple Cisco security appliances from a single platform is a significant advantage, especially for larger enterprises managing complex security infrastructures.
  • Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center offers advanced threat detection and analysis capabilities, aiding in swift and efficient incident response.
  • Its flexible deployment options cater to diverse operational needs, providing convenience and ease of setup to businesses of all sizes.


  • Although powerful, the platform may require a steep learning curve, particularly for those who are new to Cisco’s ecosystem.
  • Some users have reported a desire for more customization options within the management interface to meet their specific operational needs.
  • Pricing information is not transparent and requires negotiation. Your mileage may vary.
pfSense icon

pfSense: Best open source solution

pfSense is an open-source firewall software solution that is highly customizable, suitable for tech-savvy businesses that prefer having the flexibility to tailor their firewall to specific needs. It’s built on the FreeBSD operating system, offering a comprehensive range of features for network management and security.


As an open-source platform, pfSense is free to download and use. However, Netgate, the company behind pfSense, offers paid support and services, including hardware solutions integrated with pfSense software.


  • A wide array of networking functionalities, including firewall, VPN, and routing services, ensuring comprehensive network protection.
  • Being open-source, it offers extensive customization options, allowing businesses to tailor the software to their specific needs.
  • Supports a large selection of third-party packages for additional features, granting more flexibility in expanding its capabilities.
  • Detailed network monitoring and reporting tools, allowing for granular insight into network traffic and potential security threats.
  • It has a community-backed development model, ensuring continuous improvements and updates to its features.


  • pfSense’s open-source nature allows for extensive customization, giving businesses control over how they want to configure their firewall.
  • The software provides a comprehensive set of features, ensuring thorough network protection and management.
  • Its support for third-party packages allows for the addition of further functionalities, enhancing its overall capabilities.


  • The configuration of pfSense can be quite complex, particularly for users without a strong technical background, which could pose a challenge for some businesses.
  • The user interface, while functional, may not be as polished or intuitive as some commercial firewall solutions.
  • As with many open-source projects, while there’s a supportive community, professional customer service might not be as accessible as with commercial solutions.
Sophos icon

Sophos Firewall

Best for cloud-based management

Sophos Firewall brings a fresh approach to the way you manage your firewall and how you can detect and respond to threats on your network.

Offering a user-friendly interface and robust features, this product provides businesses with an effective and efficient solution for their network security needs. It’s a versatile solution that not only offers traditional firewall capabilities but also integrates innovative technologies to ensure all-round security.


Sophos does not publicize pricing information, because their solutions are provided by resellers and can vary depending on the business’s size, needs, and location. You can contact them directly for accurate pricing information.


  • All-in-one solution by integrating advanced threat protection, IPS, VPN, and web filtering in a single comprehensive platform, thereby providing robust security for your network.
  • Deep learning technology and threat intelligence, both of which work in synergy to identify and respond to threats before they can cause damage, offering advanced protection against malware, exploits, and ransomware.
  • User-friendly interface that simplifies configuration and management tasks, making it easier for users to set up security policies and monitor network activities.
  • Synchronized Security technology that facilitates communication between your endpoint protection and your firewall, creating a coordinated defense against cyber threats.
  • The Sophos Firewall comes with an effective cloud management platform, allowing administrators to remotely manage the system, configure settings, and monitor network activity.


  • A user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of setting up and managing network security policies, making it suitable for businesses with limited technical expertise.
  • It integrates advanced protection capabilities, such as threat intelligence and deep learning technology, to provide robust defense against sophisticated cyber threats.
  • This firewall software’s unique Synchronized Security feature offers a coordinated and automated response against threats, enhancing the overall effectiveness of your network security.


  • Some users have reported that while the user interface is intuitive, it might take some time to navigate due to the depth of features available.
  • The initial setup and configuration might require technical expertise, although Sophos provides comprehensive resources and customer support to guide users.
  • Although Sophos’ site advertises “Simple Pricing,” their costs are not in fact transparent and will require negotiating a quote. Your mileage may vary.
ZoneAlarm icon


Best for personal use

ZoneAlarm is an excellent choice for personal use and small businesses due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

With a robust set of features and an intuitive interface, it provides robust protection without requiring extensive technical knowledge. Its reputation as a reliable firewall solution makes it an attractive choice for users seeking to safeguard their systems from various threats.


ZoneAlarm offers both free and premium versions of their firewall software. The free version provides basic protection, while the Pro Firewall version, which comes at a yearly subscription fee starting from $22.95 for 1 PC, offers advanced features such as zero-day attack protection and full technical support.


  • Robust two-way firewall protection, preventing unauthorized access to your network while also stopping malicious applications from sending out your data.
  • Advanced privacy protection feature that protects your personal information from phishing attacks.
  • Unique ID Lock feature that keeps your personal information safe.
  • ZoneAlarm boasts an Anti-Phishing Chrome Extension that detects and blocks phishing sites, protecting your information online.
  • The premium version offers advanced real-time antivirus protection, ensuring that your system is continuously protected from threats.


  • ZoneAlarm offers a straightforward interface and setup process, making it an ideal choice for users who lack advanced technical skills.
  • The software provides a comprehensive suite of features, including robust firewall protection, advanced privacy tools and real-time antivirus capabilities.
  • ZoneAlarm’s ID Lock feature is a standout, helping to ensure the security of personal data.


  • While ZoneAlarm offers robust features, its protection level may not be adequate for large enterprises or businesses with complex network architectures.
  • Some users have reported that the software can be resource-intensive, potentially slowing down system performance.

Key features of firewall software

When choosing the best firewall software for your business, there are key features you should consider. These range from the extent of the security suite to scalability and cloud-based management, all of which play a significant role in how effectively the software will serve your needs.

Comprehensive security suite

A comprehensive security suite is more than just a basic firewall. It includes additional layers of security like antivirus capabilities, identity theft protection, and a VPN.

The best firewall software solutions should deliver this kind of comprehensive coverage, protecting against a wide variety of threats and helping you maintain the security of your entire network. Norton, Cisco, and Sophos firewalls excel in this area.


Scalability is particularly important for businesses that are growing or plan to grow. As the size of your network increases, your security needs will change and become more complex.

Firewall software like FortiGate and pfSense are designed with scalability in mind, allowing them to adapt to the increasing security demands of your expanding network.

User-friendly interface

A user-friendly interface is crucial, especially for those who may not have a lot of technical expertise. Firewall software should be easy to navigate and manage, making the process of setting up and adjusting the firewall less daunting.

Norton excels in this area, with an intuitive interface that is straightforward to use. GlassWire, while not as intuitive, also offers an attractive and convenient interface.

Robust features

Having robust features in firewall software is key to ensuring comprehensive protection. This includes an advanced firewall with extensive customizable rules, IPS, and threat detection capabilities.

The most robust firewall solutions include Norton, FortiGate, Cisco, and Sophos, as well as pfSense, although you’ll have to do some legwork to program the latter in particular.

Cloud-based management

Cloud-based management is a significant advantage in today’s digital landscape. It allows for the remote configuration and monitoring of your firewall, making it easier to manage and adjust as needed. This feature is particularly beneficial for businesses with remote workers or multiple locations.

Norton, FortiGate, Cisco, Sophos, and ZoneAlarm all provide this capability.

Advanced firewall protection

Advanced firewall protection includes capabilities like deep packet inspection, which examines data packets to detect malware that could otherwise bypass standard firewalls. This kind of advanced protection is vital to secure your network from sophisticated threats. Most of the firewalls in this list offer advanced, next-generation capabilities.


Integration capabilities are crucial as they allow your firewall software to work in harmony with other security solutions you might have in place. Cisco firewalls, as you might expect, integrate seamlessly with other Cisco solutions, but can falter when trying to integrate with third-party solutions. On the other hand, thanks to its open-source nature, pfSense can be configured to integrate very broadly.

By considering these features when choosing your firewall software, you can ensure that you select a solution that meets the specific needs of your business, provides comprehensive protection and offers room for growth and adaptation as your business evolves.

Benefits of working with firewall software

Employing robust firewall software within your network infrastructure brings along a myriad of benefits that contribute to the overall security and efficiency of your business operations, from enhanced network security and data protection to reduced downtime and regulatory compliance.

Enhanced network security

Perhaps the most fundamental advantage of using firewall software is the enhanced network security it provides. Firewall software acts as the first line of defense against potential threats, including hackers, viruses, and other cyberattacks.

By monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules, firewall software ensures that only safe connections are established, thus protecting your network.

Data protection

With the increasing incidence of data breaches and cyber theft, data protection is more crucial than ever. Firewall software plays a pivotal role in safeguarding sensitive data from being accessed or stolen by unauthorized users.

By blocking unauthorized access, it ensures the safety of important information and reduces the risk of data breaches.

Traffic management

Firewall software is not only about protection but also about managing and optimizing the network traffic. Features like bandwidth management can be leveraged to allocate network resources effectively and ensure the smooth functioning of your online operations.

Real-time security updates

With the constantly evolving threat landscape, maintaining up-to-date security measures is vital. Firewall software frequently receives real-time security updates, which help to protect your network against the latest threats. This ensures that your network remains secure against even the most recent forms of cyberattacks.

Reduced downtime

Downtime can be a significant issue for any business, leading to financial losses and damage to reputation. By proactively identifying and preventing potential threats, firewall software can significantly reduce the risk of system outages, leading to increased uptime and reliability.


As your business grows, so does the complexity and the scope of your network. Scalable firewall software grows with your business, adjusting to the increased demands and providing consistent protection despite the expanding network size. This makes it a cost-effective solution that can support your business in the long term.

Regulatory compliance

Many industries have regulations in place requiring businesses to protect sensitive data. Firewall software helps meet these regulatory requirements by providing robust security measures that prevent data breaches and protect client and customer information.

Incorporating firewall software into your network infrastructure is a critical step towards securing your business in an increasingly digital world. The benefits it offers are invaluable, providing not just enhanced protection, but also efficiency and adaptability that can significantly contribute to your business’s success.

How to choose the best firewall software for your business

Choosing the best firewall software for your business involves a careful examination of your specific needs and security requirements. 

  • Size and security level: The size and nature of your business, the sensitivity of your data, and the extent of your network operations are crucial factors that determine what kind of firewall software will be the most beneficial.
  • Comprehensive features: Moreover, you should consider firewall solutions that offer a comprehensive suite of security features, such as VPN services, antivirus protection, and advanced threat detection capabilities.
  • Scalability: The scalability of a firewall software solution is important, particularly for growing businesses. Opt for software that can seamlessly adapt to the expanding needs of your network, providing reliable protection irrespective of your business size.
  • Interface: Unless you have a robust, well-trained IT department, the interface of your chosen software will need to be user-friendly and easily manageable, even for those with minimal technical expertise.
  • Cloud-based management: Features that allow for remote configuration and monitoring are highly beneficial in the current era of remote work. These features offer the flexibility of managing your network’s security from any location, improving overall efficiency.
  • Integration: Your chosen software should integrate smoothly with your existing security infrastructure to create a comprehensive, effective security system.
  • Support: Solid customer support from the vendor is also crucial to navigating any issues that may arise during setup or throughout the software’s lifespan.

Choosing firewall software is an investment in your business’s security, so take the time to evaluate each option thoroughly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who should use firewall software?

Any individual, business, or organization that uses a network or the internet should consider using firewall software. Whether you’re a small business owner, a large corporation, or a home user, a firewall can provide essential protection against unauthorized access and various cyber threats.

Where are firewalls located on a network?

Firewalls are typically located at the edge of a network, serving as a barrier between a trusted internal network and an untrusted external network, such as the internet. They can also be positioned between different parts of an organization’s networks to control access.

Are there any downsides to using a firewall?

While firewalls are essential for network security, they can occasionally block legitimate traffic if the security settings are too restrictive. Additionally, managing and maintaining a firewall can require technical expertise. However, the benefits of using a firewall far outweigh these potential challenges.

How often should a firewall be updated?

Firewall software should be updated regularly to ensure it can protect against the latest threats. Many firewall providers release updates regularly and many firewalls are set to update automatically. However, it’s a good idea to check for updates manually periodically to ensure your firewall is up-to-date.

What is firewall software’s role in regulatory compliance?

For many businesses, especially those in regulated industries like healthcare or finance, firewall software plays a critical role in meeting compliance requirements. Regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require robust data protection measures, which includes network security provided by a firewall.

Can firewall software protect against all cyber threats?

While firewall software provides a strong layer of protection, it’s not a panacea for all cyber threats. Some sophisticated threats, like targeted phishing attacks or insider threats, require additional security measures. It’s essential to have a comprehensive security strategy in place that includes firewall software, antivirus software, strong access controls, and user education about safe online practices.


To deliver this list, we based our selection on an examination of firewall software features and overall reputation in addition to their ease of use, quality of customer support, and value for money.

This information is available in user reviews as well as official product pages and documentation. Nonetheless, we encourage you to conduct your own research and consider your unique requirements when choosing a firewall software solution.

Bottom line: Choosing the best firewall software for your business

The evolving threat landscape necessitates a robust and reliable firewall solution for both personal use and businesses of all sizes. Based on the products listed, it’s evident that several excellent options exist in the market, each with its own unique strengths and capabilities.

Choosing the best firewall software ultimately depends on your requirements, the nature of the network environment, and the budget at hand. It’s essential to consider each product’s features, pros, and cons, and align them with your individual or business needs.

The chosen solution should provide comprehensive protection, be user-friendly, and ideally offer scalability for future growth. Whether it’s for personal use or to protect a multilayered enterprise network, there’s a firewall solution out there that fits the bill.

Also see

Firewalls come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a look at eight different types of firewalls.

We also did a review of the best firewalls for small and medium-sized businesses.

And once you’ve selected your firewall, make sure you define and implement a clear, strong firewall policy to back it up—as well as setting robust firewall rules to govern the software.

Source :

7 Best Firewall Solutions for Enterprises in 2023


Enterprise firewall software is an essential component of network security infrastructure for organizations. These firewalls are designed to provide high availability and scalability to meet the needs of large and complex networks because they can handle high traffic volumes and accommodate the growth of network infrastructure.

By exploring the following top firewall solutions, enterprises can make an informed decision to fortify their network defenses and safeguard critical assets from ever-evolving cyber threats.

Best firewall solutions for enterprises: Comparison chart

Best for DLP capabilityURL filteringReportingIntegration with third party solutionDNS filteringStarting price
Palo Alto NetworksOverallAvailable on request
Check Point QuantumConnected devicesAvailable on request
Fortinet FortiGateFlexibility and scalabilityAvailable on request
Juniper NetworksLogging and reporting capabilityAvailable on request
Cisco Secure FirewallCentralized managementAvailable on request
ZscalerBusinesses with cloud network infrastructure$72 per user per year
pfSenseOpen source$0.01 per hour

Jump to:

Palo Alto Networks icon

Palo Alto Networks

Best overall enterprise firewall

Palo Alto is a leading network security provider of advanced firewall solutions and a wide range of network security services.

The company offers various firewall solutions for various enterprise use cases, including cloud next generation firewalls, virtual machine series for public and private clouds, container series for Kubernetes and container engines like Docker, and its PA-series appliances designed for data centers, network edge, service providers, remote branches and retail locations, and harsh industrial sites.

These firewalls provide enhanced visibility, control, and threat prevention capabilities to protect networks from various cyber threats, including malware, viruses, intrusions, and advanced persistent threats (APTs).


Palo Alto doesn’t advertise its product pricing on its website. Our research found that the Palo Alto PA-series price range from $2,900 to $200,000 (more or less). To get the actual rates for your enterprise, contact the company’s sales team for custom quotes.

Standout features

  • Advanced threat prevention.
  • Advanced URL filtering.
  • Domain name service (DNS) security.
  • Medical IoT security.
  • Enterprise data loss prevention (DLP).
  • Up to 245 million IPv4 OR IPv6 sessions.


  • Provides visibility across IoT and other connected devices.
  • Provides visibility across ​​physical, virtualized, containerized and cloud environments.
  • Offers a variety of products for different business sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises.
  • Easy-to-navigate dashboard and management console.


  • Complex initial setup.
  • Some users reported that the Palo Alto license is pricey.
Check Point icon

Check Point Quantum

Best for connected devices

Check Point is an Israeli multinational company that develops and sells software and hardware products related to network, endpoint, cloud, and data security.

Check Point Quantum is designed to protect against advanced cyber threats, targeting Gen V cyber attacks. This solution encompasses various components to safeguard networks, cloud environments, data centers, IoT devices, and remote users.

Check Point’s SandBlast technology employs advanced threat intelligence, sandboxing, and real-time threat emulation to detect and prevent sophisticated attacks, including zero-day exploits, ransomware, and advanced persistent threats.


Check Point does not publicly post pricing information on its website. Data from resellers shows that Check Point products can range from around $62 for a basic solution to over $50,000 for an enterprise-level solution. Contact the Check Point sales team for your actual quotes.

Standout features

  • URL filtering.
  • DLP.
  • Full active-active redundancy.
  • Zero-trust protection for IoT devices.
  • Check Point Quantum protects against GenV attacks.
  • Advanced threat protection.


  • 24/7 customer service and support.
  • Easy to setup and use.
  • Management platform with automation features.
  • Sandblast protection for testing malware.


  • Users reported that the Check Point firewall is expensive.
  • Documentation can be improved.
Fortinet icon

Fortinet FortiGate

Best for flexibility and scalability

Fortinet offers various firewall products for different organization sizes, from home offices to large enterprises.

The FortiGate 7000 series (FG-7121F, FG-7081F, FG-7081F-2, FIM-7921F, FIM-7941F, and FPM-7620F) is an enterprise firewall product that provides high-performance network security. It is designed for organizations with high network traffic volumes and that have to manage large network infrastructures.

This firewall series is powered by a Security Processing Unit (SPU) of up to 520Gbps and also includes the latest NP7 (Network Processor 7) and CP9 (Content Processor 9).


Fortinet’s FortiGate firewall tool pricing is available upon request. Pricing will depend on various factors, including the size of the network, the number of users, and the types of security features needed. Contact a Fortinet representative for pricing and product information.

Standout features

  • Protects IT, IIoT, and OT devices against vulnerability and device-based attack tactics.
  • FortiGate 7000F series provides NGFW, segmentation, secure SD-WAN, and mobile security for 4G, 5G, and IoT.
  • Offers various types of firewalls, including container firewalls, virtual firewalls and hardware firewall appliances.
  • Zero Touch Integration with Fortinet’s Security Fabric Single Pane of Glass Management.


  • Integrations with over 500 third-party services.
  • AI-powered capabilities.
  • Users reported that the tool is user-friendly.


  • Support can be improved.
  • Its reporting feature can be improved.
Juniper Networks icon

Juniper Networks

Best for logging and reporting capability

Juniper Networks’ firewall helps enterprises protect their network edge, data center, and cloud applications.

The company is also known for its Junos operating system (OS), a scalable network OS that powers Juniper Networks devices. Junos provides advanced routing, switching, and security capabilities and allows for seamless integration with third-party software and applications.

Juniper Networks vSRX virtual firewall provides enhanced security for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud environments, while its cSRX Container Firewall offers advanced security services to secure applications running in containers and microservices. The company’s SRX firewalls series is designed for various organization sizes, from small to large enterprises.


Juniper Network pricing is available on request. However, they offer different license methods, including Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) and Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL) options for public clouds. Contact the company’s sales team for custom quotes.

Standout features

  • Juniper Network has various types of firewalls, including container firewalls, virtual firewalls and hardware firewall appliances.
  • Public cloud workload protection, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Logging and reporting capability.
  • Supports VMware ESXi, NSX, and KVM (Centos, Ubuntu).


  • Advanced threat prevention capability.
  • Deployable on-premises and cloud environments.


  • Support can be improved.
  • Users report that some Juniper Networks firewall products are expensive.
Cisco icon

Cisco Secure Firewall

Best for centralized management

Cisco Secure Firewall combines firewall capabilities with advanced security features to protect networks from various threats, including unauthorized access, malware, and data breaches.

Cisco Secure Firewall integrates with Cisco Talos, a threat intelligence research team. This collaboration enables the firewall to receive real-time threat intelligence updates, enhancing its ability to identify and block emerging threats.

Cisco Secure Firewall can be centrally managed through Cisco Firepower Management Center (FMC). This management console provides a unified interface for configuration, monitoring, and reporting, simplifying the administration of multiple firewalls across the network.


Contact Cisco’s sales team for custom quotes.

Standout features

  • IPS to protect against known threats.
  • Web filtering.
  • Network segmentation.
  • Centralized management.


  • Provides comprehensive visibility and control.
  • Efficient support team.
  • Highly scalable tool.


  • Support can be improved.
  • Complex initial setup.
Zscaler icon


Best for businesses with cloud network infrastructure

The Zscaler firewall provides cloud-based security for web and non-web traffic for all users and devices. Zscaler inspects all user traffic, including SSL encrypted traffic, with elastically scaling services to handle high volumes of long-lived connections.

One of the key advantages of Zscaler’s cloud-based approach is that it eliminates the need for on-premises hardware or software installations. Instead, organizations can leverage Zscaler’s infrastructure and services by redirecting their internet traffic to the Zscaler cloud. This makes scaling and managing security easier across distributed networks and remote users.


Zscaler doesn’t advertise its rates on its website. However, data from resellers shows that its pricing starts from about $72 per user per year. For your actual rate, contact the Zscaler sales team for quotes.

Standout features

  • Centralized policy management.
  • Fully-integrated security services.
  • Real-time granular control, logging, and visibility.
  • User-aware and app-aware threat protection.
  • Adaptive IPS security and control.
  • File transfer protocol (FTP) control and network address translation (NAT) support.


  • Easy to use and manage.
  • AI-powered cyberthreat and data protection services.
  • Always-on cloud intrusion prevention system (IPS).
  • AI-powered phishing and C2 detection.


  • Complex initial setup.
  • Documentation can be improved.
pfSense icon


Best open-source firewall

pfSense is an open-source firewall and routing platform based on FreeBSD, an open-source Unix-like OS. It is designed to provide advanced networking and security features for small and large networks.

pfSense can be deployed as a physical appliance or as a virtual machine. pfSense offers many capabilities, including firewalling, VPN connectivity, traffic shaping, load balancing, DNS and DHCP services, and more.


For pfSense cloud:

  • pfSense on AWS: Pricing starts from $0.01 per hour to $0.40 per hour.
  • pfSense on Azure: Pricing starts from $0.08 per hour to $0.24 per hour.

For pfSense software:

  • pfSense CE: Open source version available to download for free.
  • pfSense+ Home or Lab: Available at no cost for evaluation purposes only.
  • pfSense+ W/TAC LITE: Currently available at no charge, but the vendor may increase the rate to $129 per year in the future. 
  • pfSense+ W/TAC PRO: $399 per year.
  • pfSense+ W/TAC ENT: $799 per year.

pfSense offers three hardware appliances tailored to the needs of large enterprises.

  • Netgate 8200: Cost $1,395. It has 18.55 Gbps IPERF3 and 5.1 Gbps IMIX traffic speed.
  • Netgate 1537: Cost $2,199. It has 18.62 Gbps(10k ACLs) IPERF3 and 10.24 Gbps (10k ACLs) IMIX traffic speed.
  • Netgate 1541: Cost $2,899. It has 18.64 Gbps(10k ACLs) IPERF3 and 12.30 Gbps(10k ACLs) IMIX traffic speed.

Standout features

  • NAT mapping (inbound/outbound).
  • Captive portal guest network.
  • Stateful packet inspection (SPI).


  • Free open-source version.
  • Community support.
  • Anti-spoofing capability.


  • Steep learning curve for administrators with limited experience.
  • GUI is old-fashioned and could be simplified.

Key features of enterprise firewall software

There’s a wide variety of capabilities that enterprise firewall software can provide, but some of the key features to look for include packet filtering, stateful inspection, application awareness, logging and reporting capabilities, and integration with your existing security ecosystem.

Packet filtering

Firewall software examines incoming and outgoing network packets based on predefined rules and policies. It filters packets based on criteria such as source/destination IP addresses, ports, protocols, and packet attributes. This feature enables the firewall to block or allow network traffic based on the configured rules.

Stateful inspection

Enterprise firewalls employ stateful inspection to monitor network connections’ state and analyze traffic flow context. By maintaining information about the state of each connection, the firewall can make more informed decisions about which packets to allow or block.

Application awareness 

Modern firewall software often includes application awareness capabilities. It can identify specific applications or protocols within network traffic, allowing organizations to enforce granular policies based on the application or service used. This feature is handy for managing and securing web applications and controlling the use of specific services or applications.

Logging and reporting

Firewall software logs network events, including connection attempts, rule matches, and other security-related activities. Detailed logging enables organizations to analyze and investigate security incidents, track network usage, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. Reporting capabilities help generate comprehensive reports for auditing, security analysis, and compliance purposes.

Integration with the security ecosystem

Firewall software is typically part of a broader security ecosystem within an organization. Integration with other security tools and technologies, such as antivirus software, threat intelligence platforms, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems, and network access control (NAC) solutions, allows for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to network security.

Benefits of working with enterprise firewalls

Key advantages of enterprise firewall solutions include enhanced network security, threat mitigation, and access control, as well as traffic analytics data.

  • Network security: Firewalls act as a protective barrier against external threats such as unauthorized access attempts, malware, and other malicious activity. Enforcing access control policies and modifying network traffic helps prevent unauthorized access and protect critical data.
  • Threat mitigation: By combining intrusion prevention techniques, deep packet monitoring, and threat intelligence, a firewall can detect and block suspicious traffic, reducing the risk there that the network will be corrupted and damaged so
  • Access control: Firewall software allows administrators to restrict or allow access to network resources, applications, and services based on specific user roles, departments, or needs. This ensures that only authorized people or systems can access the screen and its accessories.
  • Traffic data and analytics: In addition to protecting your network, firewalls can also provide granular information about traffic and activity passing through your network, as well as its overall performance.

How do I choose the best enterprise firewall solution for my business?

When choosing the best enterprise firewall software for your business, consider the following factors.

  • Security: Assess your organization’s specific security needs and requirements.
  • Features: Evaluate the features and capabilities of firewall solutions, such as packet filtering, application awareness, intrusion prevention, VPN support, centralized management, and scalability. Consider the vendor’s reputation, expertise, and support services.
  • Compatibility: Ensure compatibility with your existing network infrastructure and other security tools.
  • Hands-on tests: Conduct a thorough evaluation of different firewall solutions through demos, trials, or proofs of concept to assess their performance, ease of use, and effectiveness in meeting your organization’s security goals.
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO): Consider the cost, licensing models, and ongoing support and maintenance requirements.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and select the best enterprise firewall software that aligns with your business needs and provides robust network security.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is an enterprise firewall different from a normal firewall?

Although they share many characteristics, an enterprise firewall is not the same as a consumer-grade firewall. Enterprise firewalls are designed to meet large organizations’ security needs and network infrastructure challenges. They are robust, scalable, and can handle high network traffic volumes and sophisticated threats, compared to generic firewalls for home or small office environments.

What is the strongest type of firewall?

A firewall’s strength depends on various factors, and no universally dependable firewall exists. A firewall’s effectiveness depends on its materials, configuration, and how well it fits into the organization’s security needs. 

That said, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) provide improved security capabilities and are often considered the ideal firewall solution in today’s enterprise. NGFWs combine traditional firewall features with additional functionality such as application awareness, intrusion prevention, deep packet monitoring, and user-based policies. They provide advanced protection against modern threats with greater visibility and control over network traffic.

How do you set up an enterprise firewall?

Setting up an enterprise firewall involves several steps:

  1. Determine your network topology.
  2. Define security policies.
  3. Plan firewall placement.
  4. Configure firewall rules.
  5. Implement VPN and remote access.
  6. Test and monitor firewall performance.
  7. Perform regular updates and maintenance.

We recommend engaging network security experts or reviewing vendor documentation and support materials for specific guidance in installing and configuring your enterprise firewall.


The firewall solutions mentioned in this guide were selected based on extensive research and industry analysis. Factors such as industry reputation, customer reviews, infrastructure, and customer support were considered.

We also assessed the features and capabilities of the firewall solutions, including packet filtering, application awareness, intrusion prevention, DLP, centralized management, scalability, and integration with other security tools.

Also see

If you’re not sure one of the firewalls included here is right for your business, we also determined the best firewalls for SMBs, as well as the best software-based firewalls.

And once your firewall is in place, don’t neglect its maintenance. Here are the best firewall audit tools to keep an eye on its performance.

Source :

8 Best Network Scanning Tools & Software for 2023

MAY 30, 2023

Network scanning tools are a critical investment for businesses in this era of increasing cyber threats. These tools perform an active examination of networks to identify potential security risks and help IT administrators maintain the health and security of their networks.

As businesses become more digital and interconnected, the demand for such tools has significantly increased. To help businesses sort through the plethora of these solutions available on the market, we’ve narrowed down the list to eight top products and their ideal use cases.

Here are our picks for the top network scanning software:

Top network scanning tools and software comparison

Vulnerability ScanningReal-time Network MonitoringPenetration TestingCompliance AssuranceIntegration with Other ToolsEase of UseRange of Vulnerabilities DetectedScalabilityPricing (Starting)
Burp SuiteModerateHighHigh$1,999/yr
Manage Engine OpManagerModerateModerateHigh$245
Tenable NessusHighHighHigh$4,990/yr
Pentest ToolsModerateHighModerate$72/mo.
Qualys VMDRModerateHighHigh$6,368/yr
SolarWinds ipMonitorHighModerateHigh$1,570/yr

Jump to:

Burp Suite

Best for comprehensive web vulnerability scanning

PortSwigger BurpSuite dashboard
Source: portswigger.net

Burp Suite is a trusted tool among IT professionals for its robust web vulnerability scanning capabilities. It identifies security holes in web applications and is particularly well-suited for testing complex applications.


The vendor has three enterprise pricing options as follows:

  • Pay as you scan: This tier starts at $1,999 per year plus $9 per hour scanned. It includes unlimited applications and users.
  • Classic: This tier is priced at $17,380 per year and includes 20 concurrent scans, unlimited applications and unlimited users.
  • Unlimited: This is the superior plan and is priced at $49,999 per year. It includes unlimited concurrent scans, applications, and users.


  • Out-of-band Application Security Testing (OAST) added to dynamic scans for accurate identification of vulnerabilities.
  • Easy setup with point-and-click scanning or trigger via CI/CD.
  • Recurring scanning options for daily, weekly, or monthly scans.
  • Out-of-the-box configurations for fast crawl or critical vulnerability audits.
  • API security testing for increased coverage of microservices.
  • JavaScript scanning to uncover more attack surfaces in Single Page Applications (SPAs).
  • Scalable scanning with the ability to adjust the number of concurrent scans.
  • Custom configurations available, including crawl maximum link depth and reported vulnerabilities.
  • Burp Scanner, a trusted dynamic web vulnerability scanner used by over 16,000 organizations.
  • Integration with major CI/CD platforms such as Jenkins and TeamCity.
  • API-driven workflow for initiating scans and obtaining results via the REST API.
  • Integration with vulnerability management platforms for seamless scanning and security reporting.
  • Burp extensions allow customization of Burp Scanner to meet specific requirements.
  • Multiple deployment options including interactive installer and Kubernetes deployment.
  • Integration with bug tracking systems like Jira with auto ticket generation and severity triggers.
  • GraphQL API for initiating, scheduling, canceling, and updating scans.
  • Role-based access control for multi-user functionality and control.
  • Compatible configurations from Burp Suite Pro can be manually integrated into the Enterprise environment.
  • Reporting features include graphical dashboards, customizable HTML reports, scan history metrics, intuitive UI, rich email reporting, security posture graphing, aggregated issue reporting, and compliance reporting for PCI DSS and OWASP Top 10.


  • Extensive vulnerability detection.
  • Can handle complex web applications.
  • Integration with popular CI/CD tools.


  • Steep learning curve for beginners.
  • Relatively higher pricing.


Best for ease of use and automation

Detectify dashboard
Source: detectify.com

Detectify is a fully automated External Attack Surface Management (EASM) solution powered by a world-leading ethical hacker community. It can help map out a company’s security landscape and find vulnerabilities that other scanners may miss​.


The vendor has several pricing options as follows:

  • The full EASM package comes with a 2-week free trial. Pricing is custom and based on the number of domains, sub-domains, and web applications of the attack surface.
  • For organizations with a small attack surface, the vendor offers two pricing tiers that also come with a free 2-week trial:
    • Surface Monitoring: Pricing starts from $289 per month (billed annually). This package includes up to 25 subdomains.
    • Application Scanning: Pricing starts from $89 per month per scan profile (billed annually).


The features of the full EASM solution are:

  • Continuous 24/7 coverage for discovering and monitoring your modern tech stack.
  • Crawling and fuzzing engine that surpasses traditional DAST scanners.
  • Ability to monitor large enterprise products and protect sensitive organizational data.
  • Accurate results with 99.7% accuracy in vulnerability assessments through payload-based testing.
  • SSO, API access, automatic domain verification, custom modules, and attack surface custom policies.
  • Identify risks before they are exploited by enriching assets with critical information like open ports, DNS record types, and technologies.
  • Integrates with popular tools such as Slack, Jira, and Splunk, and comes with an API that allows users to export results in the manner that best suits their workflows.


  • Simple and clean interface, easy to use.
  • Continuous automatic updates and scans.
  • Customizable reports and notifications.


  • Limited manual testing capabilities.
  • May generate false positives.


Best for cloud-based network security

Intruder dashboard
Source: intruder.io

Intruder is a powerful cloud-based network security tool that helps businesses prevent security breaches by automating routine security checks. Each threat found is classified according to severity and a remediation plan proposed.


  • Pricing is based on the number of applications and infrastructure targets with three pricing tiers: Essential, Pro and Premium. The Pro plan comes with a 14-day free trial.
  • Example pricing for 1 application and 1 infrastructure target is as follows:
    • Essential: $160 per month, billed annually.
    • Pro: $227 per month, billed annually.
    • Premium: From $3,737 per year.


  • Easy-to-use yet powerful online vulnerability tool.
  • Comprehensive risk monitoring across your stack, including publicly and privately accessible servers, cloud systems, websites, and endpoint devices.
  • Detection of vulnerabilities such as misconfigurations, missing patches, encryption weaknesses, and application bugs, including SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting, and OWASP Top 10.
  • Ongoing attack surface monitoring with automatic scanning for new threats and alerts for changes in exposed ports and services.
  • Intelligent results that prioritize actionable findings based on context, allowing you to focus on critical issues like exposed databases.
  • Compliance and reporting with high-quality reports to facilitate customer security questionnaires and compliance audits such as SOC2, ISO27001, and Cyber Essentials.
  • Continuous penetration testing by security professionals to enhance coverage, reduce the time from vulnerability discovery to remediation, and benefit from vulnerability triage by certified penetration testers.
  • Seamless integration with your technical environment, with no lengthy installations or complex configurations required.


  • Cloud-based, eliminating the need for on-site servers.
  • Comprehensive vulnerability coverage.
  • Automated, regular security checks.


  • Dependency on automated scanning engines may result in occasional false positives or false negatives.

ManageEngine OpManager

Best for real-time network monitoring

ManageEngine OpManager dashboard

ManageEngine OpManager is a comprehensive network monitoring application, capable of providing intricate insights into the functionality of various devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, wireless LAN controllers, servers, virtual machines, printers, and storage systems. This software facilitates in-depth problem analysis to identify and address the core source of network-related issues.


The vendor offers three editions with starting prices as follows:

  • Standard: $245 for up to 10 devices.
  • Professional: $345 for up to 10 devices.
  • Enterprise: $11,545 for 250 up to 250 devices.


  • Capable of monitoring networks using over 2,000 performance metrics, equipped with user-friendly dashboards, immediate alert systems, and intelligent reporting features.
  • Provides crucial router performance data including error and discard rates, voltage, temperature, and buffer statistics.
  • Enables port-specific traffic control and switch port mapping for device identification.
  • Continuous monitoring of WAN link performance, latency, and availability, leveraging Cisco IP SLA technology.
  • Active monitoring of VoIP call quality across WAN infrastructure, facilitating the troubleshooting of subpar VoIP performance.
  • Automatic generation of L1/L2 network mapping, aiding in the visualization and identification of network outages and performance issues.
  • Provides monitoring for both physical and virtual servers across various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Solaris, Unix, and VMware.
  • Detailed, agentless monitoring of VMware-virtualized servers with over 70 VMware performance monitors.
  • Utilizes WMI credentials to monitor Microsoft Hyper-V hosts and guest performance with over 40 in-depth metrics.
  • Enables monitoring and management of Host, VMs, and Storage Repositories of Citrix Hypervisor, providing the necessary visibility into their performance.
  • Allows for monitoring and management of processes running on discovered devices through SNMP/WMI/CLI.
  • Uses protocols like SNMP, WMI, or CLI for monitoring system resources and gathering performance data.
  • Provides immediate notifications on network issues via email and SMS alerts.
  • Facilitates the orchestration and automation of initial network fault troubleshooting steps and maintenance tasks.
  • Provides a centralized platform for identifying network faults, allowing for visualization, analysis, and correlation of multiple monitor performances at any instant.
  • Enables network availability, usage trend, and performance analysis with over 100 ready-made and customizable reports.
  • Employs a rule-based approach for syslog monitoring to read incoming syslogs and assign alerts.
  • Includes a suite of OpManager’s network monitoring tools to assist in first and second-level troubleshooting tasks.


  • In-depth network monitoring.
  • Easy-to-understand performance dashboards.
  • Supports both physical and virtual servers.


  • May be complex for beginners.
  • Cost can quickly escalate based on number of devices.

Tenable Nessus

Best for vulnerability analysis

Tenable Nessus dashboard
Source: tenable.com

Tenable Nessus is a vulnerability assessment tool that enables organizations to actively detect and rectify vulnerabilities throughout their ever-evolving attack surface. It is formulated to evaluate contemporary attack surfaces, expanding beyond conventional IT assets to ensure the security of cloud infrastructure and provide insights into internet-connected attack surfaces.


  • Nessus offers a free 7-day trial. Customers can scan up to 32 IPs per scanner during the trial period.
  • After the trial, the product is available at a starting fee of $4,990 per year for an unlimited number of IPs per scanner.
  • Nessus Enterprise pricing is dependent on business requirements.


  • Evaluates contemporary attack surfaces, extends beyond conventional IT assets, and provides insights into internet-connected environments.
  • Built with an understanding of security practitioners’ work, aiming to make vulnerability assessment simple, intuitive, and efficient.
  • Provides a reporting feature that prioritizes the top ten significant issues.
  • Nessus is deployable on a range of platforms, including Raspberry Pi, emphasizing portability and adaptability.
  • Ensures precise and efficient vulnerability assessment.
  • Offers visibility into your internet-connected attack environments.
  • Ensures the security of cloud infrastructure before deployment.
  • Focuses on the most significant threats to enhance security efficiency.
  • Provides ready-to-use policies and templates to streamline vulnerability assessment.
  • Allows for customization of reports and troubleshooting procedures.
  • Provides real-time results for immediate response and rectification.
  • Designed for straightforward and user-friendly operation.
  • Provides an organized view of vulnerability assessment findings for easy interpretation and analysis.


  • Broad vulnerability coverage.
  • Easy integration with existing security systems.
  • User-friendly interface.


  • Relatively higher pricing.

Pentest Tools

Best for penetration testing

Pentest Tools dashboard
Source: pentest-tools.com

Pentest Tools is a suite of software designed to assist with penetration testing. Pentest Tools provides the necessary capabilities to effectively carry out penetration tests, offering insights into potential weak points that may be exploited by malicious actors.


The vendor offers four pricing plans as follows:

  • Basic: $72 per month, billed annually, for up to 5 assets and up to 2 parallel scans.
  • Advanced: $162 per month, billed annually, for up to 50 assets and up to 5 parallel scans.
  • Teams: $336 per month, billed annually, for up to 500 assets and up to 10 parallel scans.
  • Enterprise: For more than 500 assets and more than 10 parallel scans, plan pricing varies.


  • Initially built on OpenVAS, now includes proprietary technology to assess network perimeter and evaluate a company’s external security posture.
  • Uses proprietary modules, like Sniper: Auto Exploiter, for a comprehensive security scan.
  • Provides a simplified and intuitive interface for immediate scanning.
  • Conducts in-depth network vulnerability scans using over 57,000 OpenVAS plugins and custom modules for critical CVEs.
  • Includes a summarized report of vulnerabilities found, their risk rating, and CVSS score.
  • Each report offers recommendations for mitigating detected security flaws.
  • Prioritizes vulnerabilities based on risk rating to optimize manual work and time.
  • Generates customizable reports with ready-to-use or custom templates.
  • Provides a complete view of “low hanging fruit” vulnerabilities, enabling focus on more advanced tests.
  • Allows testing of internal networks through a ready-to-use VPN, eliminating the need for time-consuming scripts and configurations.
  • Identifies high-risk vulnerabilities such as Log4Shell, ProxyShell, ProxyLogon, and others.
  • Assists in running vulnerability assessments necessary to comply with various standards like PCI DSS, SOC II, HIPAA, GDPR, ISO, the NIS Directive, and others.
  • Facilitates thorough infrastructure tests, detecting vulnerabilities ranging from weak passwords to missing security patches and misconfigured web servers.
  • Third-party infrastructure audit that’s useful for IT services or IT security companies, providing reports for client assurance on implemented security measures.


  • Broad coverage of penetration testing scenarios.
  • Easy to use, with detailed reports.
  • Regular updates and enhancements.


  • Proprietary technology can also limit interoperability with other tools or platforms.
  • New users may experience a steep learning curve.

Qualys VMDR

Best for cloud security compliance

Qualys VMDR dashboard
Source: qualys.com

Qualys VMDR is a top choice for businesses looking for cloud-based network security software. It provides automated cloud security and compliance solutions, allowing businesses to identify and fix vulnerabilities.


  • Prospective customers can try out the tool for free for 30 days.
  • Pricing starts at $199 per asset with a minimum quantity of 32 (i.e., $6,368 total starting cost).
  • Flexible pricing for larger packages based on business needs.


  • Qualys is a strong solution for businesses seeking cloud-based network security software, providing automated cloud security and compliance solutions.
  • Utilizes TruRisk™ to quantify risk across vulnerabilities, assets, and asset groups, enabling proactive mitigation and risk reduction tracking.
  • Automates operational tasks for vulnerability management and patching with Qualys Flow, saving valuable time.
  • Leverages insights from over 180,000 vulnerabilities and 25+ threat sources to provide preemptive alerts on potential attacks with the Qualys Threat DB.
  • Detects all IT, OT, and IoT assets for a comprehensive, categorized inventory with detailed information such as vendor lifecycle.
  • Automatically identifies vulnerabilities and critical misconfigurations per Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks, by asset.
  • Integrates with ITSM tools like ServiceNow and Jira to automatically assign tickets and enable orchestration of remediation, reducing Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR).


  • Cloud-based, reducing on-premise hardware needs.
  • Comprehensive vulnerability and compliance coverage.
  • Powerful data analytics capabilities.


  • Can be complex for small businesses.
  • Pricing is high and can be prohibitive for smaller organizations.

SolarWinds ipMonitor

Best for large-scale enterprise networks

SolarWinds ipMonitor dashboard

SolarWinds ipMonitor is an established network monitoring solution ideal for monitoring servers, VMware hosts, and applications on large-scale enterprise networks. It offers deep performance insights and customizable reports.


SolarWinds ipMonitor has three pricing editions, each with a 14-day free trial: 

  • 500 monitors for $1,570
  • 1000 monitors for $2,620
  • 2500 monitors for $5,770


  • The monitoring tool provides over a dozen notification types including alerts via email, text message, or directly to Windows Event Log files.
  • Facilitates the monitoring of common ports with key protocols.
  • Ensures IT environment functionality by continuously monitoring database availability.
  • Enhances end user network experience monitoring capabilities.
  • Offers monitoring of network equipment health in tandem with network infrastructure.
  • Confirms the ability of a web server to accept incoming sessions.
  • Provides critical insights into the overall IT environment.
  • Offers an affordable tool for network monitoring.
  • Utilizes VM ESXi host monitors to track the health and performance of your virtual environment.
  • Enables monitoring of Windows services and applications..


  • Extensive scalability for large networks.
  • Deep insights and comprehensive reporting.
  • Wide range of integrated applications.


  • Can be overly complex for smaller networks.
  • The pricing model may not suit smaller businesses.

Key features of network scanning tools and software

Vulnerability scanning is central to all network scanning tools, but other features, such as real-time monitoring, penetration testing, and integrability, should not be overlooked.

Vulnerability scanning

This is the most critical feature buyers typically look for in network scanning tools. Vulnerability scanning helps identify potential security threats and weak spots within the network. 

The tools do this by scanning the network’s devices, servers, and systems for known vulnerabilities such as outdated software, open ports, or incorrect configurations. 

This feature matters because it provides an overview of the network’s security posture, enabling users to take corrective measures promptly.

Real-time network monitoring

Real-time network monitoring allows for continuous observation of the network’s performance, detecting any issues or anomalies as they occur. 

This feature is vital because it can significantly reduce downtime and address performance issues before they impact business operations.

Penetration testing

Penetration testing (or pentesting) simulates cyberattacks on your network to test the effectiveness of your security measures and identify potential vulnerabilities that may not be detectable through standard vulnerability scanning. 

Penetration testing is essential for businesses as it offers a more proactive approach to cybersecurity than standard vulnerability scans.

Compliance assurance

Compliance assurance ensures that the organization’s network aligns with various regulatory standards, such as HIPAA for healthcare or PCI DSS for businesses that handle credit card information.

Compliance assurance is critical because non-compliance can result in hefty fines and damage to the company’s reputation.

Integration with other tools

Integration capabilities are an often overlooked but essential feature of network scanning tools. The ability to integrate with other IT management and security tools allows for a more streamlined and efficient workflow.

For example, integrating a network scanning tool with a ticketing system could automatically create a ticket when a vulnerability is detected.

This feature is vital as it enables businesses to enhance their overall IT infrastructure management and improve response times to potential threats.

How to choose the best network scanning software for your business

Selecting the best network scanning tool for your business involves several key considerations:

  1. Identify your needs: The first step is to understand what you need from a network scanning tool. Do you require real-time network monitoring, pentesting, compliance assurance, or more? The type of network you’re operating and the size of your business can heavily influence your needs.
  2. Consider the ease of use: The usability of the software is an important factor depending on the size and expertise of your IT team. If it’s too complex, it may be challenging for your team to use effectively. Look for software that has a user-friendly interface and offers good customer support.
  3. Examine the features: Look for software that offers the features that match your specific requirements. If you’re unsure what features you might need, consulting with an IT professional can be beneficial.
  4. Evaluate scalability: Your business is likely to grow, and so will your network. The network scanning tool you choose should be able to scale along with your business without losing efficiency.
  5. Check for regular support and updates: Good network scanning software should provide reliable support and regular updates to address emerging security threats. Check whether the software is frequently updated and if technical support is readily available.
  6. Review pricing: Lastly, consider the pricing and your budget. Keep in mind that while some software might be more expensive, it could offer more features or better support, leading to better value for your business in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of network scanning tools?

Network scanning tools offer a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Security enhancement: Network scanning tools identify vulnerabilities and security risks within a network, allowing businesses to address these issues proactively and bolster their security posture.
  • Compliance assurance: Many of these tools help ensure that your network aligns with various regulatory and industry standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties.
  • Real-time monitoring: By providing real-time network monitoring, these tools allow for immediate detection and mitigation of issues, thereby reducing network downtime and improving performance.
  • Resource optimization: Network scanning can identify underutilized resources, aiding in more efficient resource allocation and cost savings.
  • Improved network management: With a thorough understanding of the network infrastructure, administrators can make more informed decisions regarding network planning and expansion.

Who should use network scanning software?

Network scanning software is beneficial for a variety of roles and industries, including:

  • Network administrators: These professionals can use network scanning tools to monitor and manage the health of the network, consistently optimizing its performance.
  • IT security professionals: These tools are crucial for IT security staff in identifying potential vulnerabilities and mitigating security risks.
  • Managed Service Providers (MSPs): MSPs can utilize network scanning tools to manage and monitor their clients’ networks, ensuring they are secure and comply with relevant regulations.
  • Regulated industries: Businesses within industries that must adhere to strict data security standards, such as healthcare, finance, and e-commerce, can benefit significantly from these tools to ensure compliance and protect sensitive data.

What are the types of network scanning?

Network scanning can be categorized into several types based on their function:

  • Port scanning: This type identifies open ports and services available on a network host. It can help detect potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Vulnerability scanning: This process involves identifying known vulnerabilities in the network, such as outdated software or misconfigurations, that could be exploited.
  • Network mapping: This type of scanning identifies the various devices on a network, their interconnections, and topology.
  • Performance scanning: This form of scanning monitors network performance, identifying potential issues that could affect the speed or reliability of the network.
  • Compliance scanning: This type checks the network’s compliance with certain regulatory or industry standards, helping avoid potential legal issues.


The selection, review, and ranking of the network scanning tools in this list was carried out through a comprehensive and structured methodology, which involved several key steps: namely, requirement identification, market research, feature evaluation, user reviews and feedback, ease of use, pricing, and scalability.

By combining these steps, we have aimed to provide a balanced and comprehensive overview of the top network scanning tools of 2023, thereby enabling potential buyers to make an informed decision that best suits their specific needs and circumstances.

Bottom line: Managing vulnerabilities with network scanning tools

Network scanning tools are essential for any organization striving to maintain a secure and efficient IT environment. From identifying vulnerabilities to ensuring compliance and enhancing overall network performance, these tools play a pivotal role in successful network management.

The eight tools discussed in this article offer a variety of features and capabilities, catering to different needs and business sizes. However, choosing the right tool should be guided by an organization’s unique requirements, budget, and the tool’s ability to scale alongside the growth of the business.

By doing so, businesses can foster a more secure, compliant, and reliable IT network, boosting operational efficiency and business resilience.

Knowing your network’s vulnerabilities is just the beginning. Here are the best vulnerability management tools to keep your data locked up safe.

Source :

Dell SonicWALL TZ400 and Firebox BOVPN Virtual Interface Integration Guide – Tunnel Interface

Deployment Overview

WatchGuard provides integration instructions to help our customers configure WatchGuard products to work with products created by other organizations. If you need more information or technical support about how to configure a third-party product, see the documentation and support resources for that product.

This integration guide describes how to configure a BOVPN virtual interface tunnel between a WatchGuard Firebox and a Dell SonicWALL® TZ400.

Integration Summary

The hardware and software used in this guide include:

  • WatchGuard Firebox M400
    • Fireware v12.8.2.B668649
  • Dell SonicWALL TZ400
    • SonicOS Enhanced Version


This diagram shows the topology for a BOVPN virtual interface connection between a Firebox and a Dell SonicWall TZ400.

Screen shot of the Topology diagram

Configure the Firebox

To configure a BOVPN virtual interface connection on the Firebox:

  1. Log in to Fireware Web UI.
  2. Select VPN > BOVPN Virtual Interfaces.
    The BOVPN Virtual Interfaces configuration page opens.
  3. Click Add.
Screen shot of the General Settings tab
  1. In the Interface Name text box, type a name to identify this BOVPN virtual interface.
  2. From the Remote Endpoint Type drop-down list, select Cloud VPN or Third-Party Gateway.
  3. From the Gateway Address Family drop-down list, select IPv4 Addresses.
  4. In the Credential Method section, select Use Pre-Shared Key.
  5. In the adjacent text box, type the pre-shared key.
  6. From the drop-down list, select String-Based .
  7. In the Gateway Endpoint section, click Add.
    The Gateway Endpoint Settings dialog box opens.
Screen shot of the Local Gateway tab
  1. From the Physical drop-down list, select External.
  2. From the Interface IP Address drop-down list, select Primary Interface IPv4 Address.
    The Primary Interface IP Address is the primary IP address you configured on the selected external interface.
  3. Select By IP Address.
  4. In the adjacent text box, type the primary IP address of the External Firebox interface.
  5. Select the Remote Gateway tab.
Screen shot of the Remote Gateway tab
  1. Select Static IP Address.
  2. In the adjacent text box, type the IP address of your SonicWALL WAN connection.
  3. Select By IP Address.
  4. In the adjacent text box, type the IP address of your SonicWALL WAN connection.
  5. Click OK.
Screen shot of the completed Gateway Endpoint settings
  1. In the Gateway Endpoint section, select Start Phase 1 tunnel when it is inactive.
  2. Select Add this tunnel to the BOVPN-Allow policies.
  3. Select the VPN Routes tab.
Screen shot of the VPN Routes tab
  1. Click Add.
Screen shot of the VPN Route Settings
  1. From the Choose Type drop-down list, select Network IPv4.
  2. In the Route To text box, type the Network IP address of a route that will use this virtual interface.
  3. Click OK.
Screen shot of the completed VPN Route settings
  1. Select the Phase 1 Settings tab.
Screen shot of the Phase 1 settings
  1. From the Version drop-down list, select IKEv2.
  2. Keep all other Phase 1 settings as the default values.
  3. Keep Phase 2 Settings as the default values.
Screen shot of the Phase 2 settings
  1. Click Save.

For more information about BOVPN virtual interface configuration on the Firebox, see BOVPN Virtual Interfaces

Configure the Dell SonicWALL TZ400

Zone and Interface Settings

  1. Log in to the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 Web UI at https://<IP address of TZ400>. The default IP address is
  2. Configure interfaces and zones. For information about how to configure interfaces and zones, see the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 documentation.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL interface settings
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL zone settings

IPSec VPN Settings

To configure IPSec VPN settings:

  1. Select Manage > Policies > Objects > Address Objects.
  2. To add a new object, click Add.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL address object settings
  1. In the Name text box, type the object name. In our example, the name is WGINT.
  2. From the Zone Assignment drop-down list, select VPN.
  3. From the Type drop-down list, select Network.
  4. In the Network text box, type the network address.
  5. In the Netmask/Prefix Length text box, type the netmask.
  6. Click Add.
  7. Click Close.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL address object settings
  1. Select Manage > Connectivity > VPN > Base Settings.
  2. In the VPN Policies section, click Add.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL General tab
  1. From the Policy Type drop-down list, select Tunnel Interface.
  2. From the Authentication Method drop-down list, select IKE using Preshared Secret.
  3. In the Name text box, type a descriptive name for this VPN. In our example, the name is VPN with WG.
  4. In the IPsec Primary Gateway Name or Address text box, type the peer IP address.
  5. Select Mask Shared Secret.
  6. In the Shared Secret and Confirm Shared Secret text boxes, type the pre-shared secret key.
  7. From the Local IKE ID drop-down list, select IPv4 Address. In the adjacent text box, type the SonicWALL outgoing public IP address.
  8. From the Peer IKE ID drop-down list, select IPv4 Address. In the adjacent text box, type the WatchGuard Firebox public IP address.
  9. Select the Proposals tab.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL Proposals tab.
  1. In the IKE (Phase 1) Proposal section, from the Exchange drop-down list, select IKEv2 Mode.
  2. From the DH Group drop-down list, select Group 14.
  3. From the Encryption drop-down list, select AES-256.
  4. From the Authentication drop-down list, select SHA256.
  5. In the Ipsec (Phase 2) Proposal section, from the Protocol drop-down list, select ESP.
  6. From the Encryption drop-down list, select AES-256.
  7. From the Authentication drop-down list, select SHA256.
  8. Select the Enable Perfect Forward Secrecy check box.
  9. From the DH Group drop-down list, select Group 14.
  10. For all other settings, keep the default values.
  11. Click OK.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL base settings
  1. Keep all default settings in Advanced VPN Settings.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL base settings

Route Policy Settings

To configure Route Policy settings:

  1. Select Manage > System Setup > Network > Routing.
  2. In the Route Policies section, click Add.
Screen shot of the Dell SonicWALL route policy settings
  1. In the Name text box, type the object name. In our example, the name is policy.
  2. From the Source drop-down list, select X2 subnet. In our example, the X2 subnet is
  3. From the Destination drop-down list, select WGINT.
  4. From the Service drop-down list, select Any.
  5. From the Interface drop-down list, select VPN with WG.
  6. For all other settings, keep the default values.
  7. Click OK.
Screen shot of Dell SonicWALL route policies

Test the Integration

  1. Log in to the Firebox Web UI.
  2. Select System Status > VPN Statistics.
  3. Verify the VPN tunnel is active.
  4. Log in to the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 Web UI.
  5. Verify the VPN tunnel is active.
  6. Verify the hosts behind the Firebox and behind the SonicWALL can successfully ping each other.

    Source :

Dell SonicWALL TZ400 and Firebox Branch Office VPN Integration Guide – Site To Site

Deployment Overview

WatchGuard provides integration instructions to help our customers configure WatchGuard products to work with products created by other organizations. If you need more information or technical support about how to configure a third-party product, see the documentation and support resources for that product.

This integration guide describes how to configure a Branch Office VPN (BOVPN) tunnel between a WatchGuard Firebox and a Dell SonicWALL® TZ400.

Integration Summary

The hardware and software used in this guide include:

  • WatchGuard Firebox M400
    • Fireware v12.8.2.B668649
  • Dell SonicWALL TZ400
    • SonicOS Enhanced Version


This diagram shows the topology for a BOVPN connection between a Firebox and a SonicWALL TZ400.

Screen shot of the topology diagram

Configure the Firebox

To configure a Branch Office VPN (BOVPN) connection on the Firebox:

  1. Log in to Fireware Web UI.
  2. Select VPN > Branch Office VPN.
    The Branch Office VPN configuration page opens.
  3. In the Gateways section, click Add.
Screenshot of the General Settings tab
  1. In the Gateway Name text box, type a name to identify this BOVPN gateway.
  2. From the Address Family drop-down list, select IPv4 Addresses.
  3. In the Credential Method section, select Use Pre-Shared Key.
  4. In the adjacent text box, type the pre-shared key.
  5. From the drop-down list, select String-Based .
  6. In the Gateway Endpoint section, click Add.
    The Gateway Endpoint Settings dialog box opens.
Screen shot of the Local Gateway settings
  1. From the External Interface drop-down list, select External.
  2. From the Interface IP Address drop-down list, select Primary Interface IPv4 Address.
    The Primary Interface IP Address is the primary IP address you configured on the selected external interface.
  3. Select By IP Address.
  4. In the adjacent text box, type the primary IP address of the External Firebox interface.
  5. Select the Remote Gateway tab.
Screen shot of the Remote Gateway settings
  1. Select Static IP Address.
  2. In the adjacent text box, type the IP address of your SonicWALL WAN connection.
  3. Select By IP Address.
  4. In the adjacent text box, type the IP address of your SonicWALL WAN connection.
  5. Keep the default settings for all other options.
  6. Click OK.
Screen shot of the completed Gateway Endpoint configuration
  1. In the Gateway Endpoint section, select the Start Phase 1 tunnel when Firebox starts check box.
  2. Select the Phase 1 Settings tab.
Screen shot of the Phase 1 settings
  1. From the Version drop-down list, select IKEv2.
  2. Keep all other Phase 1 settings as the default values.
  3. Click Save.
Screen shot of the Gateways and Tunnels lists
  1. In the Tunnels section, click Add.
Screen shot of the Advanced settings
  1. From the Gateway drop-down list, select the gateway that you configured.
  2. In the Addresses section, click Add.
Screen shot of the Addresses tab
  1. In the Local IP section, from the Choose Type drop-down list, select Network IPv4.
  2. In the Network IP text box, type the local IP segment. This the local network protected by the Firebox.
  3. In the Remote IP section, from the Choose Type drop-down list, select Network IPv4.
  4. In the Network IP text box, type the remote IP segment. This the local network protected by the Dell SonicWALL device.
  5. Click OK.
Screen shot of the Phase 2 settings
  1. Keep the default Phase 2 Settings.
  2. Click Save.

Configure the Dell SonicWALL TZ400

Zone and Interface Settings

  1. Log in to the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 Web UI at https://<IP address of TZ400>. The default IP address is
  2. Configure interfaces and zones. For information about how to configure interfaces and zones, see the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 documentation.
Screen shot of the SonicWALL network interface settings
Screen shot of the SonicWALL zone settings

IPSec VPN Settings

To configure IPSec VPN settings:

  1. Select Manage > Policies > Objects > Address Objects.
  2. To add a new object, click Add.
Screenshot of sonicwall. picture3, address object settings
  1. In the Name text box, type the object name. In our example, the name is WGINT.
  2. From the Zone Assignment drop-down list, select VPN.
  3. From the Type drop-down list, select Network.
  4. In the Network text box, type the network address.
  5. In the Netmask/Prefix Length text box, type the netmask.
  6. Click Add.
  7. Click Close.
Screenshot of sonicwall, pictuer4, the address objects page
  1. Select Manage > Connectivity > VPN > Base Settings.
  2. In the VPN Policies section, click Add.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture5, vpn policy, general settings
  1. From the Policy Type drop-down list, select Site to Site.
  2. From the Authentication Method drop-down list, select IKE using Preshared Secret.
  3. In the Name text box, type a descriptive name for this VPN. In our example, the name is VPN with WG.
  4. In the IPsec Primary Gateway Name or Address text box, type the peer IP address.
  5. Select Mask Shared Secret.
  6. In the Shared Secret and Confirm Shared Secret text boxes, type the pre-shared secret key.
  7. From the Local IKE ID drop-down list, select IPv4 Address. In the adjacent text box, type the SonicWALL outgoing public IP address.
  8. From the Peer IKE ID drop-down list, select IPv4 Address. In the adjacent text box, type the WatchGuard Firebox public IP address.
  9. For all other settings, keep the default values.
  10. Select the Network tab.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture6, vpn policy, network settings
  1. In the Local Networks section, select Choose local network from list. From the adjacent drop-down list, select X2 Subnet.
  2. In the Remote Networks section, select Choose destination network from list. From the adjacent drop-down list, select WGINT.
  3. Select the Proposals tab.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture7, vpn policy, proposal settings.
  1. In the IKE (Phase 1) Proposal section, from the Exchange drop-down list, select IKEv2 Mode.
  2. From the DH Group drop-down list, select Group 14.
  3. From the Encryption drop-down list, select AES-256.
  4. From the Authentication drop-down list, select SHA256.
  5. In the Ipsec (Phase 2) Proposal section, from the Protocol drop-down list, select ESP.
  6. From the Encryption drop-down list, select AES-256.
  7. From the Authentication drop-down list, select SHA256.
  8. Select the Enable Perfect Forward Secrecy check box.
  9. From the DH Group drop-down list, select Group 14.
  10. For all other settings, keep the default values.
  11. Select the Advanced tab.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture8, vpn policy, advanced settings.
  1. In the Advanced Settings section, select the Enable Keep Alive check box.
  2. For VPN Policy bound to, from the adjacent drop-down list, select Interface X1.
  3. For all other settings, keep the default values.
  4. Click OK.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture9, vpn, base settings, currently active VPN tunnels.
  1. Keep all default settings in Advanced VPN Settings.
Screenshot of sonicwall, picture9, vpn, base settings, currently active VPN tunnels.

Test the Integration

  1. Log in to the Firebox Web UI.
  2. Select System Status > VPN Statistics.
  3. Verify the VPN tunnel is active.
  4. Log in to the Dell SonicWALL TZ400 Web UI.
  5. Verify the VPN tunnel is active.
  6. Verify the hosts behind the Firebox and behind the SonicWALL can successfully ping each other.

Source :

Top 20 Open Source Cyber Security Monitoring Tools in 2023

As cyber threats continue to evolve, security professionals require reliable tools to defend against security vulnerabilities, protect sensitive data, and maintain network security. Open source cyber security tools provide a cost-effective solution for individuals and organizations to combat these threats on-premises and with cloud security and mobile devices. Let’s consider the top 25 open-source cyber security monitoring tools in 2023 that help ensure continuous network and system performance monitoring.

Table of contents

What are the Top Cybersecurity Threats Today?

As cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, organizations must stay informed and prepared to defend against a wide range of security risks.

Here are the top cybersecurity threats that businesses and individuals should be aware of today:

1. Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks are a prevalent form of social engineering where cybercriminals use deceptive emails or websites to trick users into revealing sensitive information or installing malware. These attacks often target login credentials, financial information, and other personal data.

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2. Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files or locks their systems, demanding a ransom payment to restore access. Ransomware attacks can cause significant financial losses and operational disruptions for organizations.

3. Insider Threats: Insider threats refer to security risks posed by employees, contractors, or other individuals with authorized access to an organization’s systems and data. These threats can result from malicious intent or negligence, leading to data breaches or system compromises.

4. Supply Chain Attacks: Also known as third-party attacks or vendor risk, supply chain attacks target an organization’s suppliers, vendors, or partners to gain access to their systems and data. These attacks often exploit security vulnerabilities in the supply chain to compromise multiple organizations.

5. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: DDoS attacks involve overwhelming a target’s network or system with a flood of traffic, rendering it inaccessible to legitimate users. DDoS attacks can cause severe downtime and service disruptions.

6. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): APTs are sophisticated, coordinated cyberattacks by well-funded threat actors or nation-state groups that target specific organizations for espionage, data theft, or sabotage. APTs often use advanced techniques and tactics to evade detection and maintain a long-term presence within a target’s network.

7. Zero-Day Exploits: Zero-day exploits are attacks that take advantage of previously unknown security vulnerabilities in software or systems. These vulnerabilities, also known as zero-day flaws, have no existing patches or fixes, making them particularly dangerous and challenging to defend against.

8. Internet of Things (IoT) Security: The increasing adoption of IoT devices and connected technologies has expanded the attack surface for cybercriminals. IoT devices are often vulnerable to cyber threats due to weak security measures, creating new risks for organizations and consumers.

9. Data Breaches: Data breaches occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to an organization’s sensitive data, such as customer information, financial records, or intellectual property. Data breaches can result in significant financial and reputational damage for organizations.

10. Cloud Security Threats: As more organizations migrate to cloud-based services, cloud security has become a critical concern. Threats in the cloud can arise from misconfigurations, weak authentication mechanisms, and vulnerabilities in cloud applications or infrastructure.

Benefits of Open-Source CyberSecurity tools

Open source cyber security monitoring tools offer numerous advantages over proprietary solutions, making them an attractive option for businesses, organizations, and individuals looking to enhance their security posture and perform effective security testing.

Here are some key benefits of using open-source tools for cyber security monitoring for monitoring services that pose security threats, even if you have another network monitoring system. Proper cybersecurity monitoring and access management are key to maintaining a secure environment.


One of the most significant benefits of open-source cyber security tools is their cost-effectiveness. With no licensing fees or subscription costs, these free tools enable security teams to access powerful network monitoring solutions without breaking the bank.

This particularly benefits small businesses and startups with limited budgets, allowing them to allocate resources to other critical areas.

Customizability and Flexibility

Open-source network monitoring tools offer high customizability and flexibility, allowing security professionals to tailor the tools to their specific needs. This adaptability enables organizations to address unique security threats and vulnerabilities, ensuring a more robust security posture.

Additionally, the ability to integrate these tools with existing security infrastructure adds an extra layer of protection to network security.

Rapid Development and Updates

The open-source community is known for its rapid development and frequent updates. As new security threats and vulnerabilities emerge, open-source cyber security tools are often among the first to receive patches and updates.

This continuous monitoring and proactive response help organizations stay ahead of potential security risks and maintain a strong security posture.

Extensive Support and Collaboration

Open-source cyber security tools benefit from an extensive support network, comprising developers, users, and experts from around the world.

This collaborative environment fosters knowledge sharing, allowing security professionals to learn from one another and develop more effective security strategies.

Additionally, the availability of comprehensive documentation and online forums makes it easier for users to troubleshoot issues and enhance their understanding of network monitoring and security.

Improved Security and Transparency

With their source code openly available for inspection, open-source cyber security tools offer greater transparency than proprietary alternatives. This transparency allows security professionals and researchers to scrutinize the code for potential security vulnerabilities and ensure its integrity.

Moreover, the collaborative nature of the open-source community means that any identified issues are addressed quickly, further enhancing the overall security of these tools.

Platform Independence and Interoperability

Open-source network monitoring software often supports a wide range of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, allowing organizations to deploy these tools across diverse environments.

This platform independence and interoperability help organizations ensure comprehensive network monitoring, regardless of the underlying infrastructure.

Top 25 Open Source Cyber Security Monitoring Tools in 2023

Note the following free cyber security monitoring tools in 2023 and the open-source list of solutions you can take advantage of and no free trial needed.

1. Wireshark: Network Protocol Analyzer

Wireshark is a widely-used network protocol analyzer that enables security teams to troubleshoot, analyze, and monitor network traffic in real-time to detect security issues. It is a defacto standard network monitoring tool.

command line interface data packets open source platform data breaches packet capture web apps network packets computer security experts solarwinds security event manager security scanning

By dissecting network protocols, Wireshark provides valuable insights into potential security risks and network vulnerabilities, allowing professionals to identify and resolve issues efficiently with the Wireshark network monitoring solution.

You can monitor a wide range of protocols, including TCP/IP, simple network management protocol, FTP, and many others. If you are looking for a network monitor this is it.

2. Snort: Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention System

Snort is a powerful open-source intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) that monitors network traffic and detects potential security threats.

It provides real-time traffic analysis, packet logging, and alerting capabilities, making it an essential tool for security auditing and network monitoring.

3. OSSEC: Host-Based Intrusion Detection System

OSSEC is a comprehensive host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) that offers log analysis, file integrity checking, rootkit detection, and more.

It supports various operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and macOS, and helps security professionals monitor and analyze network protocols for potential security vulnerabilities.

4. Security Onion: Intrusion Detection and Network Security Monitoring Distribution

Security Onion is a Linux distribution specifically designed for intrusion detection, network security monitoring, and log management.

With a suite of powerful open-source tools, including Snort, Suricata, and Zeek, Security Onion provides a robust solution for security teams to monitor networks and detect security breaches.

5. Nmap: Network Scanning and Discovery Tool

Nmap is a versatile network scanning and discovery tool that helps security professionals identify network devices, open ports, and running services.

It is an essential network monitoring software for vulnerability management, penetration testing, and network inventory management.

6. Kismet: Wireless Network Detector, Sniffer, and Intrusion Detection System

Kismet is a wi fi security tool that detects, sniffs, and analyzes wireless networks. By monitoring wireless network traffic, Kismet identifies potential security risks, network vulnerabilities, and unauthorized users, making it an invaluable tool for wireless network security.

7. Suricata: High-Performance Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention Engine

Suricata is an open-source, high-performance network intrusion detection and prevention engine that provides real-time network traffic analysis, threat detection, and alerting.

Suricata enables security professionals to maintain network integrity and security by employing advanced threat defense and anomaly detection techniques.

8. Zeek (formerly Bro): Network Analysis Framework for Security Monitoring

Zeek, previously known as Bro, is a powerful network analysis framework that offers real-time insight into network traffic.

With its flexible scripting language and extensible plugin architecture, Zeek provides comprehensive visibility into network activity, enabling security teams to detect and prevent security threats.

9. OpenVAS: Vulnerability Scanning and Management Solution

OpenVAS is a comprehensive vulnerability scanning and management solution that helps security professionals identify, assess, and remediate security vulnerabilities.

With its extensive plugin library, OpenVAS ensures continuous monitoring and up-to-date vulnerability information, making it a critical tool for vulnerability management.

10. ClamAV: Open-Source Antivirus Engine

ClamAV is an open-source antivirus engine that detects trojans, viruses, and other malicious software.

It offers a command-line scanner, a graphical user interface (GUI) for Windows operating system, and integration with mail servers, ensuring that your systems are protected from security threats.

11. Fail2Ban: Log-Parsing Application to Protect Against Brute-Force Attacks

Fail2Ban is a log-parsing application that monitors log files for malicious activity, such as repeated failed login attempts. Fail2Ban bans the offending IP address when a potential attack is detected, effectively protecting your network from brute-force attacks and unauthorized access.

12. AlienVault OSSIM: Open-Source Security Information and Event Management Platform

AlienVault OSSIM is an open-source security information and event management (SIEM) platform that provides real-time event correlation, log analysis, and threat intelligence.

By integrating multiple security tools, OSSIM helps security teams maintain a unified user interface and enhance their overall security posture.

13. Cuckoo Sandbox: Automated Malware Analysis System

Cuckoo Sandbox is an open-source automated malware analysis system that enables security professionals to analyze suspicious files and URLs in a safe, isolated environment.

It provides detailed reports on malware behavior, including network traffic analysis, file system changes, and API traces, helping security teams identify and mitigate security risks.

14. Logstash: Log Processing and Management Tool

Logstash is part of the Elastic Stack (ELK Stack) and offers log processing and management capabilities.

It collects, parses, and stores log data from various sources, making it an essential tool for security professionals to monitor and analyze network activity, detect security breaches, and maintain system performance.

15. pfSense: Open-Source Firewall and Router Distribution

pfSense is an open-source firewall and router distribution based on FreeBSD. It offers a powerful and flexible network security, traffic shaping, and VPN connectivity solution.

With its extensive features and customization options, pfSense is ideal for securing web servers and internal networks.

16. ModSecurity: Open-Source Web Application Firewall

ModSecurity is an open-source web application firewall (WAF) providing real-time security monitoring and access control. It detects and prevents web attacks, protects sensitive data, and helps security professionals maintain compliance with industry standards and regulations.

17. AIDE (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment): File and Directory Integrity Checker

AIDE is a file and directory integrity checker that monitors system files for unauthorized changes. It detects modifications, deletions, and additions, allowing security teams to maintain system integrity and prevent security breaches.

18. Graylog: Open-Source Log Management Platform

Graylog is an open-source log management platform that centralizes and analyzes log data from various sources.

Graylog helps security professionals detect security threats, identify network vulnerabilities, and maintain network security by providing comprehensive visibility into network activity.

19. Wazuh: Security Monitoring and Compliance Solution

Wazuh is a free, open-source security monitoring and compliance solution that integrates host-based and network-based intrusion detection systems, file integrity monitoring and security policy enforcement.

Wazuh’s centralized management and powerful analytics capabilities make it an essential tool for security teams to detect and respond to security threats.

20. T-Pot: Honeypot Platform

T-Pot is a platform combining multiple honeypots into a single, easy-to-deploy solution for cyber security monitoring. By simulating vulnerable systems and services, T-Pot attracts attackers and collects threat data, providing valuable insights into current attack trends and techniques.

Honorable mentions

Samhain: Host-Based Intrusion Detection System

Samhain is a host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) that provides file integrity checking and log file monitoring. It detects unauthorized modifications, deletions, and additions, helping security professionals maintain system integrity and prevent security breaches.

SELKS: Network Security Management ISO with Suricata

SELKS is a live and installable network security management ISO based on Debian, focusing on a complete and ready-to-use Suricata IDS/IPS ecosystem. It offers a user-friendly interface and powerful analytics tools, making it an ideal choice for security teams to monitor networks and detect potential security threats.

Squid: Open-Source Web Proxy Cache and Forward Proxy

Squid is an open-source web proxy cache and forward proxy that improves web performance and security. By caching frequently-requested web content and filtering web traffic, Squid helps reduce bandwidth usage, enhance user privacy, and protect against web-based security threats.

YARA: Pattern-Matching Tool for Malware Researchers

YARA is a pattern-matching tool designed for malware researchers to identify and classify malware samples. By creating custom rules and signatures, YARA enables security professionals to detect and analyze malicious software, enhancing their understanding of current malware trends and techniques.

Arkime (formerly Moloch): Large-Scale, Open-Source, Indexed Packet Capture and Search System

Arkime is a large-scale, open-source, indexed packet capture and search system that provides comprehensive visibility into network traffic. It enables security professionals to analyze network protocols, detect security vulnerabilities, and identify potential security threats, making it an essential tool for network monitoring and security auditing.

Tips to Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture

Improving your cybersecurity posture is essential for safeguarding your organization from various cyber threats. Here are some practical tips to help enhance your cybersecurity defenses:

  1. Implement Regular Security Audits: Conducting routine security audits can help identify potential weaknesses in your organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
  2. This includes checking for outdated software, misconfigured settings, and other vulnerabilities that may expose your systems to attacks.
  3. Keep Software and Systems Updated: Regularly update your software, operating systems, and firmware to protect against known vulnerabilities and exploits.
  4. This includes applying security patches and updates as soon as they become available.
  5. Use Strong Authentication Mechanisms: Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all critical systems and applications.
  6. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a one-time code or biometric authentication, in addition to their password.
  7. Encrypt Sensitive Data: Encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access. This includes using secure communication protocols, such as HTTPS and TLS, and implementing encryption solutions for data storage.
  8. Establish a Strong Password Policy: Enforce a robust password policy that requires users to create complex, unique passwords and update them regularly. Additionally, consider using a password manager to help users manage and store their passwords securely.
  9. Educate Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices: Provide ongoing security awareness training to educate employees about common cyber threats, safe online practices, and how to recognize and report potential security incidents.
  10. Implement Network Segmentation: Divide your network into smaller segments, isolating critical systems and data from less secure areas. This can help prevent the spread of malware and limit the damage in case of a security breach.
  11. Regularly Backup Important Data: Regularly back up essential data and store copies offsite or in the cloud. This ensures that you can quickly recover from data loss or ransomware attacks.
  12. Utilize Endpoint Security Solutions: Deploy comprehensive endpoint security solutions to protect devices connected to your network.
  13. This includes antivirus software, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and device management tools.
  14. Monitor and Analyze Network Traffic: Use network monitoring tools to analyze network traffic, detect anomalies, and identify potential security threats. Regular monitoring can help detect and respond to security incidents more effectively.
  15. Develop a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan: Create a detailed incident response plan outlining the steps to take in a security breach. Regularly review and update the plan, and ensure that all employees are familiar with the procedures.
  16. Collaborate with Security Professionals: Engage with cybersecurity experts or managed service providers to help develop and maintain a strong security posture.
  17. This can provide access to specialized knowledge and resources to stay up-to-date with the latest threats and best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the best open-source cyber security monitoring tools available in 2023?

This blog post covers the top 25 open-source cyber security monitoring tools in 2023, including Wireshark, Snort, OSSEC, Security Onion, Nmap, Kismet, Suricata, Zeek, OpenVAS, ClamAV, and more.

These tools provide comprehensive network monitoring, threat detection, and vulnerability management capabilities to help organizations maintain a robust security posture.

2. Why choose open-source cyber security monitoring tools over proprietary alternatives?

Open-source cyber security monitoring tools offer several advantages: cost-effectiveness, customizability, rapid development and updates, extensive support, improved security, and platform independence.

These benefits make open-source tools attractive for organizations looking to enhance their network security and protect sensitive data.

3. How can I improve my organization’s cybersecurity hygiene?

In addition to utilizing open-source cyber security monitoring tools, organizations can improve their cybersecurity hygiene by implementing security awareness training, regularly updating software and systems, employing strong password policies, using multi-factor authentication, monitoring network traffic, and conducting regular security audits and penetration testing.

4. What is the importance of continuous monitoring in cybersecurity?

Continuous monitoring plays a crucial role in identifying and addressing security threats and vulnerabilities in real-time.

By regularly analyzing network traffic, security professionals can detect potential issues, respond to incidents promptly, and ensure the safety and integrity of their digital assets.

5. How can I protect my web applications from security threats?

Web application security can be improved by using tools such as ModSecurity, an open-source web application firewall (WAF) that provides real-time application security monitoring and access control.

Regularly updating web applications, conducting vulnerability assessments, and implementing secure coding practices can also help mitigate security risks.

6. What role do threat intelligence and threat data play in cybersecurity?

Threat intelligence and threat data help security professionals understand the latest trends, tactics, and techniques cybercriminals use.

Organizations can proactively address potential issues and maintain a strong security posture by staying informed about emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

7. Are open-source cyber security monitoring tools suitable for small businesses and startups?

Yes, open-source cyber security monitoring tools are ideal for small businesses and startups, as they offer cost-effective and powerful network monitoring solutions.

These tools enable organizations with limited budgets to access advanced security features without incurring high licensing fees or subscription costs.

Wrapping up

The ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats demands reliable and effective tools for security professionals to protect networks, systems, and sensitive data.

These Top 20 open-source cyber security monitoring tools in 2023 provide a comprehensive network monitoring, threat detection, and vulnerability management solution.

By incorporating these tools into your security strategy, you can enhance your overall security posture and ensure the safety and integrity of your digital assets.

Source :

Why High Tech Companies Struggle with SaaS Security

It’s easy to think high-tech companies have a security advantage over other older, more mature industries. Most are unburdened by 40 years of legacy systems and software. They draw some of the world’s youngest, brightest digital natives to their ranks, all of whom consider cybersecurity issues their entire lives.

Perhaps it is due to their familiarity with technology that causes them to overlook SaaS security configurations. During the last Christmas holiday season, Slack had some private code stolen from its GitHub repository. According to Slack, the stolen code didn’t impact production, and no customer data was taken.

Still, the breach should serve as a warning sign to other tech companies. Stolen tokens allowed threat actors to access the GitHub instance and download the code. If this type of attack can happen to Slack on GitHub, it can happen to any high-tech company. Tech companies must take SaaS security seriously to prevent resources from leaking or being stolen.

App Breaches: A Recurring Story#

Slack’s misfortune with GitHub wasn’t the first time a GitHub breach occurred. Back in April, a stolen OAuth token from Heroku and Travis CI-maintained OAuth applications were stolen, leading to an attacker downloading data from dozens of private code repositories.

MailChimp, a SaaS app used to manage email campaigns, experienced three breaches over 12 months spanning 2022-23. Customer data was stolen by threat actors, who used that data in attacks against cryptocurrency companies.

SevenRooms had over 400 GB of sensitive data stolen from its CRM platform, PayPal notified customers in January that unauthorized parties accessed accounts using stolen login credentials, and Atlassian saw employee data and corporate data exposed in a February breach.

Clearly, tech companies aren’t immune to data breaches. Protecting their proprietary code, customer data, and employee records that are stored within SaaS applications should be a top priority.

Reliance on SaaS Applications#

A strong SaaS posture is important for any company, but it is particularly important for organizations that store their proprietary code in SaaS applications. This code is especially tempting to threat actors, who would like nothing more than to monetize their efforts and ransom the code back to its creators.

Tech companies also tend to rely on a large number and mix of SaaS applications, from collaboration platforms to sales and marketing tools, legal and finance, data warehouses, cybersecurity solutions, and many more – making it even more challenging to secure the entire stack.

Tech employees heavily depend on SaaS apps to do their day-to-day work; this requires security teams to strictly govern identities and their access. Moreover, these users tend to log into their SaaS apps through different devices to maintain efficiency, which may pose a risk to the organization based on the device’s level of hygiene. On top of this, tech employees tend to connect third-party applications to the core stack without thinking twice, granting these apps high risk scopes.

Learn how Adaptive Shield can help you secure your entire SaaS stack.

Controlling SaaS Access After Layoffs#

The high-tech industry is known for periods of hyper-growth, followed by downsizing. Over the past few months, we’ve seen Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Shopify and others announce layoffs.

Deprovisioning employees from SaaS applications is a critical element in data security. While much of the offboarding of employees is automated, SaaS applications that are not connected to the company directory don’t automatically revoke access. Even those applications that are connected may have admin accounts that are outside the company’s SSO. While the primary SSO account may be disconnected, the user’s admin access through the app’s login screen is often accessible.

Organic Hyper Growth and M&As#

At the same time, the industry is ripe with mergers and acquisition announcements. As a result of M&As, the acquiring company needs to create a baseline for SaaS security and monitor all SaaS stacks of merged or acquired companies, while enabling business continuity. Whether the hyper growth is organic or through an M&A, organizations need to be able to ensure access is right-sized for their users, at scale and rapidly.

Identity Threat Detection & Response#

The majority of data breaches impacting tech companies stem from stolen credentials and tokens. The threat actor enters the system through the front door, using valid credentials of the user.

Identity Threat Detection and Response (ITDR) picks up suspicious events that would otherwise go unnoticed. An SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management) solution with threat detection engines in place will alert when there is an Indicator of Compromise (IOC). These IOCs are based on cross-referencing of activities such as user geolocation, time, frequency, recurring attempts to login, excessive activities and more.

Securing High Tech’s SaaS#

Maintaining a high SaaS security posture is challenging for high tech companies, who may mistakenly believe they are equipped and well trained to prevent SaaS attacks. SaaS Security Posture Management is essential to preventing SaaS breaches, while an SSPM with ITDR capabilities will go a long way toward ensuring that your SaaS data is secure.

Learn how Adaptive Shield can help you secure your entire SaaS stack.

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RSA Report: Cybersecurity is National Security

The role of government in stopping supply chain attacks and other threats to our way of life.

By Amber Wolff
April 26, 2023

How governments play a vital role in developing regulations, stopping supply chain attacks, and diminishing other threats to our way of life.

While new issues are always emerging in the world of cybersecurity, some have been present since the beginning, such as what role cybersecurity should play in government operations and, conversely, what role government should play in cybersecurity. The answer to this question continues to shift and evolve over time, but each new leap in technology introduces additional considerations. As we move into the AI era, how can government best keep citizens safe without constraining innovation and the free market — and how can the government use its defensive capabilities to retain an edge in the conflicts of tomorrow?

The day’s first session, “Cybersecurity and Military Defense in an Increasingly Digital World,” offered a deep dive into the latter question. Over the past 20 years, military conflicts have moved from involving just Land, Air and Sea to also being fought in Space and Cyber. While superior technology has given us an upper hand in previous conflicts, in some areas our allies — and our adversaries — are catching up or even surpassing us. In each great technological leap, companies and countries alike ascend and recede, and to keep our edge in the conflicts of the future, the U.S. will need to shed complacency, develop the right policies, move toward greater infrastructure security and tap the capabilities of the private sector.

SonicWall in particular is well-positioned to work with the federal government and the military. For years, we’ve helped secure federal agencies and defense deployments against enemies foreign and domestic, and have woked to shorten and simplify the acquisition and procurement process. Our list of certifications includes FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria, DoDIN APL, Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC), USGv6, IPv6 and TAA and others. And our wide range of certified solutions have been used in a number of government use cases, such as globally distributed networks in military deployments and federal agenciestip-of-the-spearhub-and-spokedefense in-depth layered firewall strategies and more.

Because Zero Trust is just as important for federal agencies as it is for private sector organizations, SonicWall offers the SMA 1000, which offers Zero Trust Network Architecture that complies with federal guidelines, including the DoDIN APL, FIPS and CSfC, as well as the U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy.

This new strategy was at the center of the day’s next session. In “The National Cyber Strategy as Roadmap to a Secure Cyber Future,” panelists outlined this strategic guidance, which was released just two months ago and offered a roadmap for how the U.S. should protect its digital ecosystem against malicious criminal and nation-state actors. The guidance consists of five pillars, all of which SonicWall is in accord with:

  • Pillar One: Defend Critical Infrastructure
    SonicWall offers several security solutions that align with Pillar One, including firewalls, intrusion prevention, VPN, advanced threat protection, email security, Zero-Trust network access and more. We’re also working to align with and conform to NIST SSDF and NIST Zero Trust Architecture standards.
  • Pillar Two: Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors

SonicWall uses its Email Security to disrupt and mitigate the most common ransomware vector: Phishing. And in 2022 alone, we helped defend against 493.3 million ransomware attacks.

  • Pillar Three: Shape Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience

This pillar shifts liability from end users to software providers that ignore best practices, ship insecure or vulnerable products or integrate unvetted or unsafe third-party software. And as part of our efforts to aign with the NIST SSDF, we’re implementing a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM).

  • Pillar Four: Invest in a Resilient Future

Given CISA’s prominence in this guidance, any regulations created will likely include threat emulation testing, and will likely be mapped to threat techniques, such as MITRE ATT&CKSonicWall Capture Client (our EDR solution) is powered by SentinelOne, which has been a participant in the MITRE ATT&CK evaluations since 2018 and was a top performer in the 2022 Evaluations.

  • Pillar Five: Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals

An international company, SonicWall recognizes the importance of international partnerships and works to comply with global regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS and more. By sharing threat intelligence and collaborating no mitigation strategies, we work with governments and the rest of the cybersecurity community to pursue shared cybersecurity goals.

And with the continued rise in cybercrime, realizing these goals has never been more important. In “The State of Cybersecurity: Year in Review,” Mandiant CEO Kevin Mandia summarized findings from the 1,163 intrusions his company investigated in 2022. The good news, Mandia said, is that we’re detecting threats faster. In just ten years, we’ve gone from averaging 200 days to notice there’s a problem, to just 16 days currently — but at the same time, an increase in the global median dwell time for ransomware shows there’s still work to be done.

Mandia also outined the evolution of how cybercriminals are entering networks, from Unix platforms, to Windows-based attacks, and from phishing, to spearphishing to vulnerabilities — bringing patch management once again to the fore.

Deep within the RSAC Sandbox, where today’s defenders learn, play and test their skills, panelists convened to discuss how to stop attackers’ relentless attempts to shift left. “Software Supply Chain: Panel on Threat Intel, Trends, Mitigation Strategies” explained that while the use of third-party components increases agility, it comes with tremendous risk. More than 96% of software organizations rely on third-party code, 90% of which consists of open source—but the developers of this software are frequently single individuals or small groups who may not have time to incorporate proper security, or even know how. Our current strategy of signing at the end isn’t enough, panelists argued—to truly ensure safety, signing should be done throughout the process (otherwise known as “sign at the station”).

Israel provides an example of how a country can approach the issue of software supply chain vulnerability — among other things, the country has created a GitHub and browser extension allowing developers to check packages for malicious code — but much work would need to be done to implement the Israel model in the U.S. AI also provides some hope, but given its current inability to reliably detect malicious code, we’re still a long way from being able to rely on it. In the meantime, organizations will need to rely on tried-and-true solutions such as SBOMs to help guard against supply chain attacks in the near future.

But while AI has tremendous potential to help defenders, it also has terrible potential to aid attackers. In “ChatGPT: A New Generation of Dynamic Machine-Based Attacks,” the speakers highlighted ways that attackers are using the new generation of AI technology to dramatically improve social engineering attempts, expand their efforts to targets in new areas, and even write ransomware and other malicious code. In real time, the speakers demonstrated the difference between previous phishing emails and phishing generated by ChatGPT, including the use of more natural language, the ability to instantly access details about the target and the ability to imitate a leader or colleague trusted by the victim with a minimum of effort. These advancements will lead to a sharp increase in victims of phishing attacks, as well as things like Business Email Compromise.

And while there are guardrails in place to help prevent ChatGPT from being used maliciously, they can be circumvented with breathtaking ease. With the simple adjustment of a prompt, the speakers demonstrated, ransomware and other malicious code can be generated. While this code isn’t functional on its own, it’s just one or two simple adjustments away — and this capability could be used to rapidly increase the speed with which attacks are launched.

These capabilities are especially concerning given the rise in state-sponsored attacks. In “State of the Hack 2023: NSA’s Perspective,” NSA Director of Cybersecurity Rob Joyce addressed a packed house regarding the NSA’s work to prevent the increasing wave of nation-state threats. The two biggest nation-state threats to U.S. cybersecurity continue to be Russia and China, with much of the Russian effort centering around the U.S.’ assistance in the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

As we detailed in our SonicWall 2023 Cyber Threat Report, since the beginning of the conflict, attacks by Russia’s military and associated groups have driven a massive spike in cybercrime in Ukraine. The good news, Joyce said, is that Russia is currently in intelligence-gathering mode when it comes to the U.S., and is specifically taking care not to release large-scale NotPetya-type attacks. But Russia also appears to be playing the long game, and is showing no signs of slowing or scaling back their efforts.

China also appears to be biding its time — but unlike Russia, whose efforts appear to be focused around traditional military dominance, China is seeking technological dominance. Exploitation by China has increased so much that we’ve become numb to it, Joyce argued. And since these nation-state sponsored attackers don’t incur much reputational damage for their misdeeds, they’ve become increasingly brazen in their attacks, going so far as to require any citizen who finds a zero-day to pass details to the government and hosting competitions for building exploits and finding vulnerabilities. And the country is also making efforts to influence international tech standards in an attempt to tip scales in their favor for years to come.

The 2023 RSA Conference has offered a wealth of information on a wide variety of topics, but it will soon draw to a close. Thursday is the last day to visit the SonicWall booth (#N-5585 in Moscone North) and enjoy demos and presentations on all of our latest technology. Don’t head home without stopping by — and don’t forget to check back for the conclusion of our RSAC 2023 coverage!

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Top 27 WordPress Security Vulnerabilities You Need To Know

Just the idea of WordPress Security Vulnerabilities can be daunting, and even a little scary, for some people.

We want to put an end to that.

In this article we’ll dispel some of the confusion and aim to reduce the anxiety that surrounds this topic. We’ll outline the big ticket items and provide clear, actionable advice on steps you can take to protect your WordPress sites.

Before we can talk about WordPress Security Vulnerabilities, let’s get clear on what exactly we mean.

What Is A WordPress Vulnerability?

When we think of vulnerabilities, the first thing to come to mind is usually publicly known software vulnerabilities. They often allow for some form of directed, specific attack against susceptible code.

This certainly is one type of vulnerability, as you’ll see below. But for the purposes of this article, we’re considering anything that makes your website susceptible to attack – anything that puts you at a disadvantage.

You can’t hope to fight hackers if you’re not aware of the weaknesses that your enemy will exploit.

This article will arm you with practical know-how to strengthen your weaker areas and give you the power and confidence to fight back.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

#1 Outdated WordPress Core, Plugins, Themes

The single leading cause of WordPress site hacking is outdated WordPress software. This includes Plugins, Themes, and the WordPress Core itself.

The simple act of keeping all your plugins and themes up-to-date will keep you protected against the vast majority of vulnerabilities, either publicly known or “unknown”.

A known vulnerability is one that has been discovered, typically by a dedicated researcher, and published publicly – see #6 below.  But code vulnerabilities that aren’t publicly known are also important to be aware of.

Any good software developer is constantly improving their skills and their code. Over time, you can expect their code to improve, so keeping software updated ensures that you’re running only the best code on your sites.

How to protect against outdated WordPress software

We recommend making “WordPress Updates” a regular part of your weekly maintenance schedule. Block out some time every single week to get this critical work done.

The WordPress team regularly releases bug-fixing patches for the Core, and since WordPress 3.7+, these are installed automatically. It’s possible to disable that feature, but we strongly recommend that you never do.

# 2 Insecure WordPress Web Hosting

Your WordPress site is only as secure as the infrastructure that hosts it.

This is perhaps the most overlooked area of website security, and is, in our opinion, so critical that we place it in the top-3 in this list. #3 is closely related to this item, so make sure you check that out too.

If your web host doesn’t make server security a priority, then your server will get gradually more vulnerable over time. We see this all the time when customers write to our support team asking for help, only to discover that their web server is running on really, really old libraries.

This happens when the web host isn’t proactive in maintaining the server software that powers the websites of their customers.

Proactive maintenance by the web host has a cost, however. And if you’re paying bargain basement prices, then you can expect a corresponding level of service. That’s not to say that cheap web hosting is inherently insecure, and expensive web hosting isn’t. Not at all, but there is definitely a correlation between quality of web hosting and the price you pay.

How to protect against insecure WordPress web hosting

Cost of web hosting is only 1 indicator of quality. If your WordPress website is important to you or your business, then asking questions from the host about server security and ongoing maintenance should be part of your due diligence process.

You can take on recommendations from colleagues and friends, but never substitute their opinions with your own due diligence. Be prepared to invest in your hosting, as this will not only impact your security, but also your hosting reliability, uptime, and performance.

If you haven’t already done so, talk to your host today and ask them how they maintain the server that host your sites. Not in general terms, but ask them what their actual maintenance and update schedule is.

If you’re not happy with your answers and support, find a new host that will give you answers that you like. Never be afraid to switch service providers.

# 3 WordPress Web Hosting Site Contamination

This is related to the discussion above on web hosting quality. Generally speaking, the cheaper the web hosting, the more corners that will be cut in the service quality. This includes shared web server hosting configuration.

Here’s an over-simplified range of approaches in hosting websites:

  1. Host all sites within the same vhost*
  2. Host each site in separate vhosts, on the same, shared server
  3. Host each site on a separate VPS (Virtual Private Servers) on the same server
  4. Host each site on a separate dedicated server

*vhost is short for “virtual host”, that acts as a semi-independent container for hosting a website

As you move down the list, the cost increases, but the risk of contamination between websites increases. The 1st on the list is by-far the most dangerous, but is unfortunately the most common. This is where you might see something like:

  • /public_html/mywebsite1_com/
  • /public_html/mywebsite2_com/
  • /public_html/mywebsite3_com/
  • /public_html/mywebsite4_com/
  • /public_html/mywebsite5_com/

… when you look at the file system of the hosting account.

This is terrible for cross-site contamination as there is absolutely no isolation between individual websites. If any 1 of these sites becomes infected with malware, then you must assume the entire collection of sites is infected.

That’s a lot of cleanup work.

How to protect against web hosting site contamination

You’ll want to ensure that all your websites are, at the very least, hosted within their own vhost.

You could separate sites even further with separate VPSs, but you’ll pay more for it.

You’ll need to choose the type of hosting that best suits your expertise and budget.

If you can avoid it, please steer clear of hosting multiple sites within the same vhost, and if you are doing this already, look to gradually migrate these sites to their own independent vhosts as soon as possible.

For an idea, have a look at how we go about hosting many of our smaller WordPress sites.

# 4 Non-HTTPS Protection

Internet traffic sent via plain HTTP doesn’t encrypt the data transmitted between the website and the user’s browser, making it vulnerable to interception and tampering.

To avoid this, a technology known as Secure HTTP (HTTPS) is used.

Secure HTTPS is provided through the use of SSL/TLS certificates. It’s impossible to verify the identity of a website without certificates, and sensitive information such as login credentials, payment details, and personal information can be intercepted easily.

How to solve Non-HTTPS traffic

All WordPress websites should be using HTTPS by default. SSL Certificates are available for free with the LetsEncrypt service, and many web hosts provide this as-standard.

If your webhost doesn’t supply free LetsEncrypt Certificates, look to move hosts ASAP.

# 5 Insecure File Management (FTP) Vulnerability

Secure File Management is similar to the previous item on secure web/internet communications. If you’re transferring files to and from your web server using a tool like FTP, then this will typically require logging in with a username and password. If you’re not using a secure version of FTP, then you’re transmitting your username and password in plain text which can potentially be intercepted and used to compromise your server.

How to solve Insecure File Management

Practically all web hosts offer secure FTP (either FTPS or SFTP) as standard, but you should check with your hosting provider on whether that’s what you’re using and if not, how to switch.

Always use secure methods of file management. It’s just as easy to use than the insecure methods.

# 6 Known Plugin and Theme Vulnerabilities

Known vulnerabilities is what typically comes to mind when we discuss the topic of WordPress Vulnerabilities. When you’re told to upgrade because there’s a vulnerability, it basically means: a vulnerability has been discovered in the code of a plugin/theme that allows a hacker to perform a malicious attack.

By upgrading the plugin/theme, the vulnerable code has been fixed to prevent said attack.

Each vulnerability is different. Some are severe, some are trivial. Some are hard to exploit, others are easy to exploit.

The worst type of vulnerability are those that are severe, but easy to exploit.

Unfortunately, there is very little nuance in the way vulnerabilities are discussed publicly and so they’re all communicated as being catastrophic. This is not the case.

Of course, some vulnerabilities really are brutal, but many are not.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t need to stress about them. All you need to do is stay on top of vulnerability alerts and if your site is using a plugin or theme with a known vulnerability, then you need to update it as soon as possible.

The pseudo-standard practice for vulnerabilities reporting is this:

  1. Existence of vulnerability is reported to the developer
  2. Developer fixes the vulnerability and releases an update
  3. Users update their plugins/themes
  4. Some time passes, say 30 days
  5. Vulnerability details are released to the general public after enough time has passed to allow most people to upgrade the affected plugin/theme.

This brings us back to the first item on our list of vulnerabilities. If you’re performing regular maintenance on your WordPress sites, the likelihood that you’ll be susceptible to a vulnerability is slim-to-none, as you’ll have updated the affected plugin/theme, and you’re already protected.

The problem arises when you don’t regularly update your assets and you’re left with a known vulnerability on your site.

How to solve Known Vulnerabilities

Keeping on top of your WordPress updates is the best way to stay ahead of this type of vulnerability.

Alongside this, you could also use a WordPress security plugin, such as ShieldPRO, that will alert you when there’s a known vulnerability present on your website, and even automatically upgrade plugins when this is the case.

# 7 Untracked File Modifications

At the time of writing this article, WordPress 6.2 ships with over 3,800 PHP and Javascript source files. And that’s just the WordPress core. You’ll have many, many more files in your plugins and themes directories.

An Indicator of Compromise (IoC) that a WordPress site has been hacked is when a file is modified on your WordPress installation, or even added to the site, that shouldn’t be. If this ever happens, you want to know about it as quickly as possible.

The only way to do this reliably is to regularly scan all your files – at least once per day. This involves taking each file in-turn and checking whether its contents have changed from the original file, or whether it’s a file that doesn’t belong.

How to protect against untracked file modifications

Nearly all WordPress security plugins offer this scanning feature, at least for WordPress core files.

But you’ll want to also scan your plugins and themes, too. Not all WordPress security plugins offer this, so you’ll need to check whether this is supported. ShieldPRO supports scanning for all plugins and themes found on WordPress.org.

An additional complication exists for premium plugins and themes, however. Since premium plugins are only available for download from the developers’ sites, the source files for these plugins are not available for us to check against. The developers at ShieldPRO, however, have built a crowdsource-powered scanning system for premium plugins and themes so you can check these also. At the time of writing, this feature isn’t available anywhere else.

# 8 wp-config.php File Changes

If you download the source files for WordPress, you’ll discover there is no wp-config.php file. This file is often created by customising the wp-config-sample.php file with the necessary information. Since there is no universal content for the wp-config.php file, there is no way to scan this file for changes (as outlined in the previous item on this list).

In our experience, the wp-config.php file and the root index.php files are the files that are most often targeted when malware is inserted into a WordPress site, but it’s impossible to scan them using existing techniques.

You will need to constantly keep an eye on these files and be alert for changes.

How to protect against changes to wp-config.php files

One approach is to adjust the file system permissions on the file itself. This can be quite complicated so you may need technical assistance to achieve this. If you can restrict the permissions of the file so that it may only be edited by specific users, but readable by the web server, then you’ll have gone a long way in protecting it.

However, this poses another problem. Many WordPress plugins will try to make adjustments to these files automatically, so restricting access may cause you other problems.

The developers at ShieldPRO have custom-built the FileLocker system to address this issue.

It takes a snapshot of the contents of the files and alerts you as soon as they change. You’ll then have the ability to review the precise changes and then ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ them.

# 9 Malicious or Inexperienced WordPress Admins

With great power comes great responsibility.

A WordPress admin can do anything to a website. They can install plugins, remove plugins, adjust settings, add other users, add other admins. Anything at all.

But this is far from ideal when the administrator is inexperienced and likely to break things. It’s even worse if an adminaccount is compromised and someone gains unauthorized access to a site.

For this reason we always recommend adopting the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). This is where every user has their access privileges restricted as far as possible, but still allow them to complete their tasks.

This is why WordPress comes with built-in user roles such as Author and Editor, so that you can assign different permissions to users without giving them access to everything.

How to protect malicious or inexperienced administrators

As we’ve discussed, you should adopt PoLP and restrict privileges as far as possible.

Another approach that we’ve taken with Shield Security is to restrict a number of administrator privileges from the administrators themselves. We call this feature “Security Admin” and it allows us to lockout admin features from the everyday admin, such as:

  • Plugins management (install, activate, deactivate)
  • WordPress options control (site name, site URL, default user role, site admin email)
  • User admin control (creating, promoting, removing other admin users)
  • and more…

With the Security Admin feature we’re confident that should anyone gain admin access to the site, or already have it, they are prevented from performing many tasks that could compromise the site.

# 10 Existing Malware Infections

Think of malware as an umbrella term for any code that is malicious. Their purpose is wide-ranging, including:

  • stealing user data,
  • injecting spam content e.g. SEO Spam,
  • redirecting traffic to nefarious websites,
  • backdoors that allow unfettered access to the site and its data
  • or even taking over control of the website entirely

How to protect against WordPress Malware infections

Use a powerful malware scanner regularly on your WordPress sites to detect any unintended file changes and possible malware code. Examine all file changes and suspicious code as early as possible, and remove it.

# 11 WordPress Brute Force Login Attacks

WordPress brute force attacks attempt to gain unauthorized access to a website by trying to login using different username and password combinations.

These attacks are normally automated and there’s no way to stop them manually.

How to protect against brute force login attacks

You’ll need to use a WordPress security plugin, such as ShieldPRO, to detect these repeated login requests, and block the IP addresses of attackers automatically.

A powerful option is to use a service like CloudFlare to add rate limiting protection to your WordPress login page.

We also recommend using strong, unique (not shared with other services) passwords. You can use ShieldPRO to enforce minimum password strength requirements.

# 12 WordPress SQL Injection

WordPress SQL injection refers to attempts by an attacker to use carefully crafted database (MySQL) statements to read or update data residing in the WordPress database.

This is normally achieved through sending malicious data through forms on your site, such as search bars, user login forms, and contact forms.

If the SQL injection is successful, the attacker could potentially gain unauthorized access to the website’s database. They are free to steal sensitive information such as user data or login credentials, or if the injection is severe enough, make changes to the database to open up further site access.

How to protect against SQL injection attacks

The best protection against SQL injection attacks is defensive, well-written software. If the developer is doing all the right things, such as using prepared statements, validating and sanitizing user input, then malicious SQL statements are prevented from being executed.

This brings us back to item #1 on our list: keep all WordPress assets updated.

As further protection, you’ll want to use a firewall that detects SQL injection attacks and blocks the requests. ShieldPRO offers this as-standard.

# 13 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Spam Attack

WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) spam refers to manipulation of search engine results and rankings of a WordPress website.

SEO spam can take many forms, such as keyword stuffing, hidden text and links, cloaking, and content scraping.

This type of attack normally involves modification of files residing on the WordPress site, that will then cause the SPAM content to be output when the site is crawled by Google.

How to protect against SEO SPAM attacks

Ensuring your site is registered with Google Webmaster Tools and staying on top of any alerts is a first step in monitoring changes in your website’s search engine visibility.

As mentioned earlier, these sorts of attacks normally rely on modifying files on your WordPress site, so regular file scanning and review of scan results will help you detect file changes early and revert anything that appears malicious.

# 14 Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

WordPress Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is where an attacker injects malicious scripts into a WordPress website’s web pages that is then automatically executed by other users. The attacker can use various methods to inject the malicious scripts, such as through user input fields, comments, or URLs.

This attack vector can potentially steal user data or have the user unintentionally perform other malicious actions on the website.

How to protect against XSS attacks

The prime responsibility for prevention of this attack lies with the software developer. They must properly sanitize and validate all user input to ensure they are as expected.

Security plugins may also be able to intercept the XSS payloads, but this is less common. The only thing that you, as the WordPress admin, can do is ensure that all WordPress assets (plugins & themes) are kept up-to-date, and that you’re using vetted plugins from reputable developers. (See the section on Nulled Plugins below)

# 15 Denial of Service Attacks (DoS)

WordPress Denial of Service (DoS) attacks attempt to overwhelm a WordPress server with a huge volume of traffic.

By exhausting the server resources, it renders the website inaccessible to legitimate users. This would be disastrous for, say, an e-commerce store.

How to protect against DoS attacks

DoS attacks can be simple to implement for an attacker, but they’re also relatively straightforward to prevent. Using traffic limiting, you can reduce the ability of an attacker to access your site and consume your resources.

Choosing web hosting that is sized correctly with enough resources to absorb some attacks, and even using a provider that implements DoS as part of their service offering will also help mitigate these attacks.

It should be noted that if the DoS attack is large enough, no WordPress plugin will be able to mitigate it. You’ll need the resources of a WAF service, such as CloudFlare, to ensure your web server is protected.

# 16 Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)

A Distributed Denial of Service attack is the same as a Denial of Service (#15) attack, except that there are multiple origins for the requests that flood your server.

These attacks are more sophisticated, and more costly, for the attacker, so they’re definitely rarer. But they have exactly the same effect on your site as a normal DoS attack.

How to protect against DDoS attacks

Most web hosts are just not sophisticated enough to withstand a sustained DDoS attack and you’ll need the services of a dedicated WAF, such as CloudFlare.

# 17 Weak Passwords

WordPress Weak Passwords vulnerability is the use of weak passwords by WordPress users. Weak passwords can be easily cracked by attackers, allowing them to gain unauthorized access to the WordPress website and take any type of malicious action.

Related to Brute Force attacks, automated tools can be used to systematically guess or crack weak passwords with ease.

How to protect against Weak Password

To prevent WordPress Weak Passwords Vulnerability, website owners should ensure that all users, including administrators, use strong passwords. Strong passwords are complex and difficult to guess, typically consisting of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords should also be unique and not used across multiple, separate services.

WordPress doesn’t currently enforce strong passwords, so a WordPress security plugin, such as ShieldPRO, will be needed to enforce this.

# 18 Pwned Passwords

Pwned passwords vulnerability is where a WordPress user re-uses a password they’ve used elsewhere, but that has been involved in a data breach.

If a password is publicly known to have been used for a given user, and the same user re-uses it on another service, then it opens up a strong possibility that the user account could be compromised.

How to protect against Pwned Passwords

The Pwned Passwords service provides a public API that can be used to check passwords. You’ll want to enforce some sort of password policy that restricts the user of Pwned Passwords on your WordPress sites. Shield Security offers this feature as-standard.

# 19 Account Takeover Vulnerability

The previous items on this list discussed the importance of good password hygiene. But until we can go through all our accounts and ensure there is no password reuse, no pwned passwords, and all our passwords are strong, we can prevent any sort of account theft by ensuring that the person logging-in to a user account is, in-fact that person.

This is where 2-factor authentication (2FA) comes into play.

It is designed to help verify and ensure that the person logging in, is who they say they are and is a critical part of all good WordPress website security.

2-Factor authentication involves verifying another piece of information (a factor) that only that user has access to, alongside their normal password. This could be in the form of an SMS text or an email containing a 1-time passcode. It could also use something like Google Authenticator to generate codes every 30 seconds.

How to protect against account takeover vulnerability

WordPress doesn’t offer 2FA option to the user login process, by default. You will need a WordPress security plugin that offers this functionality. Shield Security has offered 2FA by email, Google Authenticator and Yubikey for many years now.

# 20 Nulled Plugins and Themes Vulnerabilities

“Nulled” plugins and themes are pirated versions of premium WordPress plugins and themes that are distributed without the permission of the original authors.

They pose significant security risks as they often contain malicious code or backdoors that can be used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to the website.

They may also include hidden links or spammy advertisements that can harm the website’s reputation or adversely affect its search engine rankings. (see SEO SPAM)

How to prevent vulnerabilities through nulled plugins and themes

The simple solution to this is to purchase premium plugins and themes from the original software vendor. A lot of work goes into the development of premium plugins and themes and supporting the developer’s work goes a long way to ensuring the project remains viable for the lifetime of your own projects.

# 21 Inactive WordPress Users Vulnerability

Inactive WordPress users vulnerability refers to the security risk posed by user accounts that haven’t been active for an extended period of time. Inactive accounts can become a target for hackers, as they may be easier to compromise than active accounts. Older accounts are more likely to have Pwned Passwords, for example.

If a hacker can gain access to an inactive user account, particularly an admin account, it’s an open door to your website data. Users automatically bypass certain checks and they can easily post spam or exploit vulnerable code on the website.

How to prevent vulnerabilities from inactive WordPress users

To prevent any vulnerability posed by inactive WordPress users, it’s important to follow these best practices:

  • Regularly monitor your website’s user accounts and delete any that are inactive.
  • Implement strong password policies for all user accounts (see above).
  • Use a security plugin that can detect and alert you to any suspicious user activity.
  • Use a security plugin that can automatically disable access to inactive user accounts.

# 22 Default Admin User Account Vulnerability

The WordPress default admin user account vulnerability refers to the security risk posed by the default “admin” username that is automatically created in the installation of any WordPress site.

This default account name is widely-known and a common target by hackers, since knowing a valid admin username is half the information needed to gain admin access.

If the admin isn’t using strong passwords or 2-factor authentication, then the site is particularly vulnerable.

How to protect against the admin user account vulnerability

It should be understood that changing the primary admin username of a WordPress site is “security through obscurity”, and that using strong passwords is required regardless of the username.

To eliminate this risk, you’ll want to rename the admin username on a site. The simplest method to do this is to create a new administrator account and then delete the old account. Please ensure that you transfer all posts/pages to the new admin account during this process. Always test this on a staging site to ensure there are no unforeseen problems.

# 23 WordPress Admin PHP File Editing Vulnerability

WordPress comes with the ability to edit plugin and theme files directly on a site, from within the WordPress admin area. The editors are usually linked to within the Plugins and Appearance admin menus, but have recently been moved to the Tools menu, in some cases.

Having this access is far from ideal as it allows any administrator to quietly modify files. This also applies to anyone that gains unauthorised access to an admin account.

There is usually no good reason to have access to these editors

How To Restrict Access To The WordPress PHP File Editors

The easiest way to prevent this is to disallow file editing within WordPress.

The Shield Security plugin has an option to turn off file editing.This can be found under the WP Lockdown module and is easy to turn on and off.

# 24 WordPress Default Prefix for Database Tables 

WordPress’ default prefix for database tables represent a potential security risk. Similar to the previous item in the list, this is about reducing your surface area of attack by obscuring certain elements of your site.

If there are attempted attacks through SQL injection, then sometimes knowing the database table prefix can be helpful. If the attacker doesn’t know it, it may slow the attack or prevent it entirely.

The point is, obscuring the names of your database tables from would-be hackers won’t do any harm whatsoever, but may give you an edge over unsophisticated hacking attempts.

Hackers can exploit this vulnerability by using SQL injection attacks to gain unauthorized access to the website’s database. This can result in the theft of sensitive information or the compromise of the website’s security.

How To Change The WordPress Database Table Prefix

This is much more easily done at the time of WordPress installation – always choose a none-default (wp_) prefix.

Changing an existing prefix will require some MySQL database knowledge and we would recommend you employ the skills of a competent professional. And, as always, ensure you have a full and complete backup of your site.

It’s also important to note that, as mentioned above, you should be using a firewall or security plugin that can detect and block SQL injection attacks.

# 25 Directory Browsing Vulnerability

Web server directory browsing is where you can browse the contents of a web server from your web browser. This is far from ideal, as it supplies hackers information they may find useful to launch an attack.

From a hacker point of view, which would be better? Knowing which WordPress plugins are installed, or not knowing any of the WordPress plugins installed?

Clearly, more information is always better. And so we return to the principle of obscurity and reducing your surface area of attack by limiting access to information that hackers can use.

How To Prevent Directory Browsing Vulnerability

The easiest way to prevent this type of vulnerability is to directory browsing altogether.

This is done by adding a simple line to the site’s .htaccess file. Bear in mind that that this is only applicable to websites running the Apache web server (not nginx)

# 26 WordPress Security Keys/Salts

WordPress security keys are the means of encrypting and securing user cookies that control user login sessions. So they’re critical to good user security.

How To Improve User Security With Strong Keys/Salts

This is an easy one to implement for most admins. Here’s a quick how-to guide on updating your WordPress security keys.

# 27 Public Access To WordPress Debug Logs

Another security through obscurity item, the WordPress debug logs are normally stored in a very public location: /wp-content/debug.log

This is far from ideal as normally, without any specific configuration changes, this file is publicly accessible, and may expose some private site configuration issues through errors and logs data.

How To Eliminate Access to WordPress Debug Logs

If the file mentioned above is on your site, then you’ll want to move or delete it. You’ll then want to switch off debug mode on your site as you only need this active if you’re investigating a specific site issue.

Debug mode is typically toggled in your wp-config.php file so have a look in there for the lines:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );

You can either:

  • Remove the lines entirely,
  • Comment out the lines, or
  • Switch true to false for both of these.

Bonus Security Tip: WordPress Website Backup

WordPress backup is often cited as a WordPress Security function. Strictly speaking, it’s not. It forms part of your disaster recovery plan. You might not have a formal DR plan, but having a website backup may be your implicit plan.

If anything ever goes wrong with your WordPress site, whether this is security related or not, having a backup is critical to being able to recover your site.

If you haven’t put a regular backup plan in place for your site, this is probably the first thing you need to do. Some of the items in this list need to be done with the option of restoring a backup in case of disaster.

Final Thoughts On Your WordPress Security

With WordPress being so widely used, it’s the obvious target for hackers to focus their efforts. This means the aspects you have to consider can be almost overwhelming, in your quest to secure your WordPress sites.

The process is never-ending and you might even address all of the items on this list, and still get hacked. But you have to keep at it.

Each step you take to lockdown your site, puts a bit more distance between you and the hackers. You might not always stay ahead of them, and you won’t always have time to address issues immediately, but we can assure that the more steps you take, the more secure your site will be.

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