6 Best Open Source Firewalls that are Enterprise ready

Don't pass these opensource firewalls up!

by Pete
Published: Updated: 25 minutes read

One of the most critical tasks is to ensure the security of the network and protect it against various types of cyber threats. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing a firewall.

While there are many proprietary firewall solutions on the market, such as those offered by Palo Alto, Cisco, Checkpoint, and Fortinet, there are also open-source firewall options that are considered “enterprise-ready.” These solutions offer many of the same features and capabilities as their proprietary counterparts, and in some cases, they can provide a more cost-effective and customizable option for organizations.

Why choose an Open-Source Firewall?

Open-source firewall solutions, such as pfSense, OPNsense, IPFire, VyOS, Iptables and FirewallD, are built on robust and secure operating systems, such as Linux, that have been extensively tested and validated. They provide a high degree of flexibility and configurability, which allows organizations to tailor their security solutions to their specific requirements.

These open-source firewalls offer various features such as support for multiple WAN connections, VPN support, traffic shaping, intrusion detection, and content filtering. They are free of charge and don’t have recurring license costs which can be a significant advantage for companies with budget constraints. They also have active communities of users and developers who contribute to their development and maintenance and many of them also have commercial support options available.

What about Support?

This is a decision point for IT Teams. When it comes to support, open-source firewall solutions may not have the same level of commercial support and resources as proprietary solutions. This means that organizations may have to rely on community support and documentation to troubleshoot and resolve issues. However, many open-source firewall solutions have active communities of users and developers who contribute to their development and maintenance.

These communities can provide a wealth of knowledge and resources for troubleshooting and resolving issues. Additionally, many open-source firewall solutions have commercial support options available, which can provide organizations with access to dedicated support teams and resources. These commercial support options can vary from the vendor and some of the open-source firewall solutions may have different levels of support, such as basic, standard and advanced support.

It’s important for organizations to consider their support needs when evaluating open-source firewall solutions. Organizations with limited in-house technical expertise may want to consider a solution with a strong community and commercial support options. On the other hand, organizations with a strong in-house technical team may be more comfortable relying on community support and documentation.

It’s also important to note that open-source firewall solutions are open to modifications, so if the organization has specific requirements that are not covered by the open-source solution, they can hire a developer to make the necessary changes.

Don’t worry, we’ll include support options for each product as well.

Let’s get started

We’re here to talk about open-source firewalls that could be easily deployed into the enterprise, free of charge. Here are 8 of the best available. (Youtube references / channels / content creators are not affiliated with us in anyway – we just like their videos :) – if you feel we’ve used their videos incorrectly, please email us.)

Networkchuck runs through pfsense

pfSense is an excellent open-source firewall solution that is worth considering for securing your network. pfSense is built on the FreeBSD operating system, which is known for its stability, security, and performance.

One of the key features of pfSense is its support for multiple WAN connections. This allows organizations to connect to multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide redundancy and failover in case of an outage. Additionally, pfSense supports a wide range of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN and IPsec, which allows for secure remote access to the network for employees and partners.

Another important feature of pfSense is its traffic shaping capabilities. This allows network managers to prioritize and control the bandwidth usage of different types of traffic, such as VoIP or video conferencing. This can be especially useful for organizations that rely on real-time communications.

pfSense is a highly configurable solution that can be tailored to the specific needs of an organization. However, it’s important to note that it may require some technical expertise to set up and manage effectively.

Features

  1. Multi-WAN support: pfSense supports multiple WAN connections, which allows organizations to connect to multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide redundancy and failover in case of an outage. This ensures that the network remains accessible even in the event of a failure of one of the ISPs.
  2. VPN support: pfSense supports a wide range of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN and IPsec, which allows for secure remote access to the network for employees and partners. This can be especially useful for organizations with a mobile workforce or multiple remote offices.
  3. Traffic shaping: pfSense has advanced traffic shaping capabilities which allows network managers to prioritize and control the bandwidth usage of different types of traffic, such as VoIP or video conferencing. This can be especially useful for organizations that rely on real-time communications.
  4. Intuitive web-based interface: pfSense comes with an intuitive web-based user interface that allows for easy management and configuration of the firewall. This makes it easy for network managers to set up and manage the firewall, even if they don’t have a lot of technical expertise.
  5. Extensibility: pfSense supports various add-ons, such as Snort for intrusion detection and Squid for caching and content filtering. This allows organizations to add additional security and functionality to their firewall as needed.
  6. Hardware Options: If you’re looking for hardware appliances, not just virtual, pfSense has you covered with a number of SOHO to Medium-Large business appliances to suit most needs. Otherwise, pfSense runs happily in a virtual environment.

Support Options

  1. Community Support: pfSense has an active community of users and developers who contribute to its development and maintenance. The community provides a wealth of knowledge and resources for troubleshooting and resolving issues.
  2. Commercial Support: Commercial support is via Netgate who offer a variety of subscription -based models based on you or your organization’s needs.
  3. Professional Services: Professional Services is via Netgate so check their coverage in your region.
The Network Berg performs an OPNSense Install

OPNsense is an open-source firewall solution that is worth considering for securing your network. OPNsense is a fork of pfSense, which is based on the FreeBSD operating system, known for its stability, security, and performance.

OPNsense is based on the HardenedBSD operating system, which is a security-hardened version of FreeBSD. This provides an additional layer of security for the firewall and uses the Packet Filter (PF) firewall, which is known for its speed and flexibility. This allows network managers to create complex firewall rules to control access to the network.

OPNsense uses the stateful filtering firewall, which is able to examine the state of the connection as well as the packet. This allows OPNsense to track and control network traffic more efficiently. Additionally, OPNsense uses the OpenVPN protocol, which is considered one of the most secure VPN protocols available. This allows organizations to set up highly secure VPN connections to their network.

Features

  1. Advanced Routing: OPNsense offers advanced routing features such as BGP and OSPF, which allows network managers to set up a more sophisticated routing infrastructure.
  2. Intrusion Detection and Prevention: OPNsense has built-in intrusion detection and prevention capabilities, which can help organizations to detect and prevent attacks on their network built on Suricata.
  3. Advanced VPN: OPNsense supports advanced VPN features such as OpenVPN, IPsec, and L2TP, which allows network managers to set up highly secure VPN connections.
  4. Plugins: OPNsense has a wide variety of plugins available, which can be used to add additional functionality to the firewall. Some of these plugins include: Captive portal, DNS forwarder and DHCP server.
  5. Advanced Web interface: OPNsense has a modern and responsive web interface, which allows network managers to easily configure and manage the firewall. The web interface also includes a live log viewer, which can be useful for troubleshooting.
  6. Hardware Options: OPNsense has a number of hardware appliances to suit an organization’s needs when a physical appliance is required. Be sure to check the availability and supportability of those appliances in your country. Like pfSense, OPNsense will run in a virtual environment as well.

Support Options

  1. Community Support: OPNsense has an active community of users and developers who contribute to its development and maintenance. The community provides a wealth of knowledge and resources for troubleshooting and resolving issues.
  2. Commercial Support: There are a number of subscription options that are focused on block-hours support. You, as a customer, choose the number of block hours you need and away you go. Make sure you confirm that the support is available for your country.
  3. Professional Services: Check the Professional Services page for more information.
Adrian Lauf runs through VyOS Router setup

VyOS is an open-source network operating system that can be used as a firewall solution. It is Linux-based and provides routing, firewall, and VPN functionality. It offers a wide range of routing protocols, multi-VRF, a command-line interface similar to Cisco IOS and scripting capabilities, which makes it a versatile solution for creating a sophisticated and secure network infrastructure.

It’s a cost-effective and customizable option for organizations looking to secure their network, but it may require some technical expertise to set up and manage effectively.

Features

  1. Routing Protocols: VyOS supports a wide range of routing protocols such as BGP, OSPF, and RIP, which allows network managers to set up a more sophisticated routing infrastructure.
  2. Multi-VRF: VyOS allows multiple virtual routing and forwarding instances to run on the same physical router, this feature is called multi-VRF. This allows network managers to create isolated virtual networks with their own routing tables.
  3. VPN: VyOS supports a wide range of VPN protocols such as IPsec, OpenVPN, and L2TP, which allows network managers to set up highly secure VPN connections.
  4. Command Line Interface: VyOS has a command-line interface, which is similar to Cisco IOS, this allows network managers who are familiar with Cisco IOS to easily transition to VyOS.
  5. Scripting: VyOS supports scripting, which allows network managers to automate repetitive tasks and to quickly configure the system. This can be done using the command-line interface or using the built-in scripting language, which is based on Python.
  6. Hardware Options: VyOS’ approach is a little different where they’ll certify third party hardware and virtualisation platforms for piece of mind. Like VMware, they have their own HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) so you can see what’s supported officially.

Support Options

  1. Community Support: VyOS has an active community of users and developers who contribute to its development and maintenance. The community provides a wealth of knowledge and resources for troubleshooting and resolving issues.
  2. Commercial Support: VyOS offer a number of crafted subscriptions to get you supported. These offer on-premise support, SLA-backed responses for hardware setups and cloud and on-premise models. These are priced high for the support and market they’re targeting. If you’re an enterprise, you might be used to these kinds of values.
  3. Professional Services: Check the Subscriptions page for more information as the Commercial support / Professional Services run together.
EndianOS UTM Firewall Improvements by Endian

Endian Firewall is a robust and feature-rich open-source firewall solution that can be used to secure small to medium-sized businesses. One of the standout features of Endian Firewall is its UTM (Unified Threat Management) capabilities. This includes features such as antivirus, intrusion prevention, and web filtering that can help to protect your network from a wide range of threats.

In addition to its UTM capabilities, Endian Firewall also supports a wide range of routing protocols such as BGP and OSPF, which allows network managers to set up a more sophisticated routing infrastructure. The firewall also has built-in VPN support for protocols like PPTP, L2TP, IPsec, and OpenVPN, which allows network managers to set up highly secure VPN connections.

The firewall can be easily managed via a web-based interface, which provides a user-friendly interface for configuring and managing the firewall. It also supports High availability, which allows to deploy two or more firewalls and create a cluster, this increases the availability and redundancy of the network security.

Features

  1. UTM functionality: Endian Firewall includes a range of features such as antivirus, intrusion prevention, and web filtering to provide a unified threat management (UTM) solution.
  2. VPN support: Endian Firewall supports a range of VPN protocols including PPTP, L2TP, IPsec and OpenVPN, which allows network managers to set up highly secure VPN connections.
  3. Advanced Routing: Endian Firewall supports advanced routing features such as BGP and OSPF, which allows network managers to set up a more sophisticated routing infrastructure.
  4. Web-based Management: Endian Firewall includes a web-based management interface, which allows network managers to easily configure and manage the firewall.
  5. High Availability: Endian Firewall supports High availability, which allows to deploy two or more firewalls and create a cluster, this increases the availability and redundancy of the network security.
  6. Hardware Options: Offering both virtual and hardware deployment options, Endian is available in 3 supported hardware versions based on the user size and throughput. Check out their Hardware page for these options.

Support Options

  1. Community Support: Endian has an active community of users and developers who contribute to its development and maintenance. The community provides a wealth of knowledge and resources for troubleshooting and resolving issues.
  2. Commercial Support: Endian offer both Commercial Support for the hardware appliances as well as the Enterprise version of their software. Please see their support page for further details. Endian also offer maintenance on their enterprise versions to ensure that the software is up to date and supportable. See their maintenance page to see if SLAs are fit for your organization.
  3. Professional Services: Endian have support partners (not listed on their website who they are), but they tout all over the world coverage. It’s best to get in contact with Endian directly for setup and supportability in your region.
A nice overivew of IPTables by Linode

IPtables is a powerful Linux-based firewall solution that can be used to secure your network. One of the standout features of iptables is its support for stateful filtering, which allows it to track the state of connections and packets to control network traffic more efficiently. iptables also allows for the creation of custom firewall rules to tailor the security of your network.

Additionally, iptables is composed of a number of independent components, called tables, which allows for easy modification and integration with other security tools. It is highly scalable, making it suitable for use in a variety of environments, from a single host to a large network.

Features

  1. Stateful filtering: Iptables supports stateful filtering, which allows it to track the state of connections and packets, this allows it to control network traffic more efficiently.
  2. Customizable rules: Iptables allows network managers to create custom rules that can be used to control traffic in and out of the network. This allows network managers to tailor their firewall rules to their specific needs.
  3. Modularity: Iptables is composed of a number of independent components, called tables, each one of them with a specific function, this makes it easy to add or remove features as needed.
  4. Scalability: Iptables can be used to control traffic on a single host or on a large network. This makes it a scalable solution that can be used in a variety of environments.
  5. Integration with other security tools: Iptables can be integrated with other Linux security tools such as SELinux and AppArmor, to provide an additional layer of security for the system.
  6. Hardware Options: Iptables is a software only option that’s installed onto an existing Linux OS. Therefore, there’s no strict Hardware option available from the developers. However, this wouldn’t stop you from installing Iptables onto a Linux distribution that’s installed onto baremetal.

Support Options

It’s important for organizations to consider their support needs when evaluating Iptables as a firewall solution. Organizations with limited in-house technical expertise may want to consider a solution with a strong community and commercial support options. On the other hand, organizations with a strong in-house technical team may be more comfortable relying on community support and documentation.

It’s worth noting that Iptables is a command line tool, so it may be more challenging for some users to use it than other firewalls with GUI interfaces, thus it may require more technical expertise to set up and manage effectively.

EFLINUX covers firewalld on Arch Linux

Firewalld is a firewall management tool for Linux operating systems that provides a dynamic firewall management. As a network manager, Firewalld is a valuable tool for securing your network by controlling incoming and outgoing traffic. Firewalld operates by creating zones that allow you to define different levels of trust for different types of network connections. Firewalld also provides a rich set of features such as filtering by IP address, port, and service, and it supports both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols.

Firewalld allows you to create and manage rich and direct rules, this gives the network manager more flexibility and granularity when it comes to controlling network traffic. Firewalld also offers an easy-to-use command-line interface and a D-Bus interface for integration with other applications. This firewall tool is suitable for both small and large networks, and it can be integrated with other Linux security tools such as SELinux and AppArmor to provide an additional layer of security for the system.

Features

  1. Dynamic management: Firewalld allows network managers to make changes to the firewall configuration without having to restart the firewall service. This allows for a more efficient and agile management of the firewall.
  2. Zones: Firewalld operates by creating zones that allow network managers to define different levels of trust for different types of network connections. This allows network managers to easily segment their network and apply different firewall rules to different parts of the network.
  3. Rich set of features: Firewalld provides a rich set of features such as filtering by IP address, port, and service. It also supports both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols.
  4. Rich and Direct rules: Firewalld allows you to create and manage rich and direct rules, this gives the network manager more flexibility and granularity when it comes to controlling network traffic.
  5. Interfaces: Firewalld provides both a command-line interface and a D-Bus interface for integration with other applications. This allows network managers to easily integrate Firewalld with other security tools and scripts.
  6. Hardware Options: Like Iptables, it’ss a software only option that’s installed onto an existing Linux OS. Therefore, there’s no strict Hardware option available from the developers.

Support Options

It’s important for organizations to consider their support needs when evaluating firewalld as a firewall solution. Organizations with limited in-house technical expertise may want to consider a solution with a strong community and commercial support options.

Community Support is available through Github and mailing lists.

In Summary

Choosing the right firewall solution for your organization can be a daunting task. There are many options available, each with its own set of features and benefits. Open-source firewall solutions such as pfSense, OPNsense, VyOS, Iptables, and Firewalld are viable alternatives to commercial options like Palo Alto, Cisco, Checkpoint, and Fortinet. These open-source solutions offer a range of features such as UTM functionality, VPN support, advanced routing, web-based management, and high availability.

When choosing a firewall solution, it’s important to consider your organization’s specific needs and the level of technical expertise you have in-house. Open-source firewall solutions may require more technical expertise to set up and manage effectively, so make sure your team is up for the challenge.