How to Choose an Enterprise Firewall for Your Business


In today’s interconnected digital landscape, safeguarding your organization’s valuable assets is paramount. A firewall is a common security tool that acts like a digital guardian, monitoring the flow of data in and out of your network. Its primary purpose is to let legitimate traffic in while defending against unauthorized access, malicious intrusions, and emerging threats. Acting like a fortress guard, a firewall makes crucial decisions in milliseconds to protect your business and its data.

What is an Enterprise Firewall?

Simply put, an enterprise firewall, or a network firewall, is a physical or software-based appliance used to protect a corporate network or enterprise infrastructure from unauthorized access, cyberattacks, and other security threats.

Often seen as the foundation of a comprehensive security solution, the firewall establishes a barrier between an organization’s internal network (intranet) and the external world, typically the public Internet.

Enterprise firewalls help safeguard sensitive data, prevent unauthorized access, and mitigate various security risks. They can be installed at the network perimeter and within the internal network to segment and protect different parts of the organization’s infrastructure. Firewalls are typically used alongside multi-factor authentication, endpoint security, and other cybersecurity strategies in a layered defense solution.

How Does an Enterprise Firewall Work?

An enterprise firewall works by examining network traffic and deciding whether to allow or block that traffic based on predefined rules and policies. Firewalls used to be physical devices placed at the edge of the corporate network, but today, protecting an organization’s physical perimeter isn’t enough. 

With remote workers, globalized teams, and geographically dispersed offices and data centers, people regularly need to access enterprise networks from outside the corporate head office. Now, network protection is complicated by multiple entry points and a variety of access methods. 

Today’s firewalls may be physical or virtual appliances or network-based software, protecting your users, data, and devices, no matter where they are connected. They can be managed by internal IT teams or by third-party cloud-based management vendors. Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) may also be included in larger security platforms.

At their core, firewalls operate by enforcing authentication according to a set of predefined rules and policies, but traditional and next-generation firewalls (NGFW) approach the task differently.

The Difference Between Traditional Firewalls and Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW)

Traditional Firewalls:

Traditional firewalls primarily focus on basic packet filtering and operate at the network layer, making access control decisions based on factors like source and destination IP addresses, port numbers, and protocols. They lack deep visibility into the content of data packets, making it challenging to distinguish between different applications and services.

Traditional firewalls may be limited in their ability to deal with the growth of IoT devices, remote employees, and evolving cybersecurity threats.

Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs):

Next-generation firewalls were designed to overcome these limitations. With deep packet inspection, NGFWs can identify specific applications, even if they use non-standard ports, and offer granular control based on applications, users, and content. They also often include intrusion detection and prevention capabilities, enhancing protection against emerging threats, and integrating with threat intelligence sources to bolster cybersecurity efforts.

NGFWs represent a more holistic and adaptable approach to network security, aligning with the evolving cybersecurity landscape and offering greater visibility, control, and security for modern networks.

Types of Enterprise Firewalls 

There are four main types of enterprise firewalls, each with its own characteristics and use cases. These include:

Packet Filtering Firewalls

Operating at the network layer, they decide which data packets are allowed based on factors like IP addresses, port numbers, and protocols. They offer basic access control but lack deep packet inspection.

Circuit-Level Gateways

These firewalls function at the session layer of the OSI model, establishing and overseeing network connections. They make access decisions based on predefined rules and are suitable for simple access control.

Stateful Inspection Firewalls

Combining the efficiency of packet filtering with connection awareness, these firewalls maintain the state of active connections, allowing them to make context-aware decisions about traffic to enhance security.

Web Application Firewalls

Working at the application layer, these firewalls act as intermediaries between users and external resources, offering granular control over applications by monitoring traffic between the apps and the Internet. They can inspect and filter packet contents but may introduce some latency due to their intermediary role.

Each of these firewalls can be implemented as software or as a physical device. The specific type of firewall a company chooses depends on its security requirements, the nature of its network, and its operational needs. Many organizations use a combination of these firewall types to create a multi-layered security strategy, protecting against a wide range of threats.

Characteristics of an Enterprise Firewall 

Common features of enterprise firewalls include:

  • Threat Prevention: Enterprise firewalls employ threat prevention mechanisms to detect and block known and emerging cybersecurity threats.
  • Application and Identity-Based Inspection: They inspect network traffic for specific applications and user identities to enforce customized security policies.
  • Network Segmentation: By dividing a network into isolated segments, firewalls help enhance security and reduce attack surfaces.
  • Network Access Control: Regulating and controlling network access, firewalls ensure that only authorized users and devices gain entry.
  • Remote Access VPNs: Enterprise firewalls provide secure remote access to the network via Virtual Private Networks.
  • Email Security: They offer email security features to protect against email-borne threats such as phishing and malware.
  • Web Filtering: Enterprise firewalls enhance web security by filtering and monitoring internet traffic.
  • Data Loss Prevention: By including data loss prevention measures, they safeguard sensitive data from unauthorized transmission or disclosure.
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems: Enterprise firewalls incorporate intrusion prevention systems to identify and thwart network intrusions and attacks actively.
  • Sandboxing: Some firewalls use sandboxing to isolate and analyze potentially malicious code in a safe environment.
  • Scalability: Designed to be scaleable, enterprise firewalls can accommodate the growth of the network while maintaining effective security measures.

Enterprise Firewalls: The Foundation of Your Cybersecurity Strategy

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so do the challenges that organizations face in securing their networks and sensitive data. Fortunately, enterprise firewalls have evolved from simple packet filters into sophisticated security systems, providing deep packet inspection, application awareness, and robust intrusion prevention capabilities. Understanding the types of enterprise firewalls and their unique features is crucial in selecting the right solution for your organization’s needs.

Whether you opt for a traditional firewall or embrace the advanced capabilities of a next-generation firewall, your choice should align with your security strategy, risk tolerance, and operational requirements. A well-implemented enterprise firewall safeguards your network and bolsters your overall cybersecurity posture in an increasingly complex landscape. 

Elevate your organization’s defenses with Perimeter 81’s Firewall-as-a-Service. Our cutting-edge solution empowers authorized users while maintaining robust protection against network intrusions. Request a demo today.


What is an example of an enterprise firewall?
When searching for enterprise firewall solutions, you’ll no doubt come across several popular brands in the industry. Many enterprise firewall vendors and products are available, each with unique features, support offerings, fee structures, and best use cases.

One example of an enterprise firewall is Perimeter 81’s cloud-based Firewall as a Service (FWaaS).  Working within Perimeter 81’s comprehensive cybersecurity platform, FWaaS allows your IT team to create policies to enforce traffic control in your network, segment your network according to user groups and identities, and manage the increasingly complex user- and role-based activities.
How much does an enterprise firewall cost?
The cost of an enterprise firewall can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the brand and its reputation, complexity of features, performance capabilities, and the level of support or services offered. 

Firewall costs can start at several hundred and range up to several thousand dollars, and well-established and reputable vendors often charge more for their products. Higher-end firewall models with faster processing power will cost more than entry-level models, and the price increases with the inclusion of advanced features such as deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, user and application awareness, VPN capabilities, and content filtering. 

Many firewall solutions require ongoing licensing or subscription fees for updates, threat intelligence, and support. These ongoing costs, as well as 24/7 support, should be factored into the overall price. Expenses may also vary based on the number of users or devices the firewall needs to protect. Scalable solutions for more extensive networks often come with higher price tags.

Additionally, virtual firewalls or cloud-based firewall services may have different pricing models, which could be based on data usage, virtual instances, or other factors.

It’s essential for organizations to carefully assess their security requirements and budget constraints when selecting an enterprise firewall. Consulting with firewall vendors, value-added resellers, or managed security service providers can help in determining the most appropriate solution for the organization’s needs.