How to Choose an Entry-Level Firewall


As cyberattacks and data breaches become increasingly common, the importance of network security cannot be overstated, even for small businesses. In fact, 87% of small businesses store customer data that could be compromised during an attack, according to a survey of 1250 small business owners, so cybersecurity measures are important. 

Cyber threats can impact businesses of any size. Hackers can steal data, disrupt service, and shut down operations, with high financial and customer costs. So, how can a small company with limited resources start implementing cybersecurity measures?

One component of an entry-level cybersecurity protection strategy is a firewall.

What is a Firewall?

Firewalls are a critical component of any cybersecurity plan. They can be installed in physical or virtual forms to protect physical and cloud-based networks. Firewall-as-a-Service can even be implemented and managed by third-party service providers. Firewalls serve as gatekeepers, monitoring and controlling traffic as it moves in and out of your network.  

Entry-level firewalls are an excellent starting point for individuals and small businesses looking to fortify online security — helping protect your network from unauthorized access and malicious activity. 

Why Do Small Businesses Need Entry-Level Firewalls? 

While all businesses are vulnerable to attacks, leaders in SMBs often have a lot on their plates and may not have the knowledge, training, or budgets to secure their company’s network. 

Entry-level firewalls offer cost-effective security solutions for individuals and small businesses. They provide a reasonable level of protection for business and customer data, intellectual property, and your reputation — without the high price tag associated with enterprise-grade options.

Implementing an entry-level firewall is a great starting point for small businesses thinking about the importance of cybersecurity. 

What’s the Difference Between Entry-Level and Enterprise Firewalls?

Entry-level firewalls, as the name suggests, are designed for smaller setups, such as home networks and small company networks with a small amount of traffic. Enterprise firewalls, on the other hand, are built to meet the demanding requirements of larger organizations and data centers. They are designed to handle much larger amounts of traffic and can scale to accommodate the complex networking needs of big organizations. 

Basic firewall solutions are designed with simplicity in mind. User-friendly interfaces make them accessible regardless of technical expertise. They can be configured to work with a home setup or a small network, and this level of customization ensures adequate protection without being too restrictive. Enterprise firewalls often require a dedicated team of IT professionals to configure and manage. They are more complex and may have a steeper learning curve. 

Since entry-level firewalls come with fewer features and less support, they are cost-effective and affordable for smaller budgets. Enterprise solutions, however, often come with a premium price tag.

Types of Firewalls

Firewalls come in various types, each with its unique approach to securing a network. Understanding these types can help you select the most suitable entry-level firewall for your needs:

  1. Packet Filtering Firewalls: These firewalls operate at the network layer and filter traffic based on predefined rules. They examine each packet for source and destination IP addresses, port numbers, and protocols. They are simple and fast but offer limited security as they don’t offer deep packet inspection.
  1. Stateful Inspection Firewalls: Combining the features of packet filtering and session tracking, stateful inspection firewalls examine the state of active connections and only allow traffic that matches a known established connection.
  1. Circuit-Level Gateway Firewalls: Circuit-level gateways create a circuit between the internal and external network for approved traffic at the session level and verify the legitimacy of the connection. Circuit-level gateways are simple and efficient, suitable for scenarios where basic connection verification and protection are required, but detailed content inspection is not a priority.
  1. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW): NGFWs are advanced firewalls that incorporate deep packet inspection, application-layer filtering, intrusion detection and prevention, and antivirus capabilities. They provide comprehensive security by examining the content and context of network traffic and allow businesses to enforce application-level security policies.
  1. Proxy Service Firewalls: Proxy firewalls act as intermediaries between the internal network and external resources at the application layer. They intercept and inspect all network traffic and can block or allow specific applications, services, or content, providing granular control over network activity. Proxy service firewalls offer an additional layer of security and anonymity.

Key features to look for in an entry-level firewall 

Selecting the right entry-level firewall for your needs can be a challenging task. Here are key features to consider when evaluating your options:

  • Ease of Use: An entry-level firewall should have an intuitive user interface that simplifies configuration and monitoring. Look for one that doesn’t require an extensive technical background to set up and manage.
  • Web Filtering: The ability to block specific websites or categories of content is a valuable feature for households and small businesses. Web filtering helps to enforce internet usage policies and protect against malicious websites.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention: Having intrusion detection and prevention capabilities can enhance the security of your network. The firewall should be able to detect and respond to suspicious network activity.
  • VPN Support: Virtual private network (VPN) support is essential for secure remote access to your network. Ensure the firewall can handle remote VPN connections, providing a safe and encrypted means of accessing your network from outside locations.
  • Application Layer Filtering: Entry-level firewalls with application layer filtering can identify and block specific applications or services. This allows you to control the use of applications like social media or file-sharing services.
  • Integrations: Since 80% of data breaches stem from compromised credentials, it’s important to ensure that the firewall supports multi-factor authentication. Look for the ability to integrate the firewall with identity providers and directory services like SAML, Active Directory, LDAP, etc. This facilitates user authentication and policy enforcement based on user identities.
  • Two-Factor Authentication: For enhanced security, ensure that the firewall supports two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect access to the firewall management interface. Authentication and authorization techniques ensure that only verified users gain access to your network and your data.
  • On-Premise Private Server Deployment: Businesses have a variety of network architectures. Before choosing a firewall, consider whether you need on-premises, private server, remote location, or cloud-based deployment to protect your digital assets. 
  • Analytics and Reporting: Firewalls may maintain detailed logs of network activity and provide reporting features. This information helps you monitor and analyze network traffic for security or performance issues.
  • Centralized cloud management:  You should have the ability to monitor and manage your firewall or firewall-as-a-service configurations and security policies from a single, cloud-based dashboard, providing convenience and visibility.
  • Regular Software Updates: Security threats are constantly evolving, so a firewall that receives regular software updates is crucial. These updates should include security patches and new features to keep your network secure.
  • Support and Documentation: Ensure the firewall comes with adequate support options and comprehensive documentation. This is particularly important for users who may need assistance in setting up and configuring the firewall.
  • Scalability: While entry-level firewalls are designed for smaller networks, consider whether the firewall can be upgraded or integrated with other security solutions as your business grows.
  • Global Reach: If you do business in multiple locations, have globalized teams, or travel often, you may need to consider where your firewall provider’s servers are located and whether they can provide the connectivity you need.
  • Affordability: Finally, consider your budget. Entry-level firewalls are designed to be cost-effective, so choose one that fits your financial constraints without compromising on essential security features.

Small businesses may not require all the key features mentioned when selecting a firewall, as their specific needs and resources may vary. To make informed decisions about which firewall to choose, consider your company’s unique requirements, budget constraints, and the level of security and control you need. Ultimately, you want to choose a firewall that meets your essential security requirements without overwhelming your budget or IT resources.

Unlock Enterprise-Grade Security at an Affordable Price

For small businesses seeking a straightforward and effective cybersecurity solution, Perimeter 81’s Firewall-as-a-Service is an ideal entry point. It’s designed with simplicity in mind, making it accessible even if you’re not a tech expert. Plus, it doesn’t compromise on security. Perimeter 81 offers essential features like content filtering, intrusion detection, and VPN support, ensuring your network is well-protected.

As your small business grows, this solution can grow with you. It’s scalable and accommodates more servers, locations, and security needs as your organization expands. Managing everything from one cloud-based dashboard adds convenience, while its affordability makes it a practical choice for businesses with budget constraints. With Perimeter 81, you’re getting user-friendly, robust security that’s tailored to small business needs. Request a demo today.


What are the 3 Main Types of Firewalls?
It depends on whether you’re asking about the firewall’s deployment method or function.

Firewall Types by Deployment
Firewalls come in various deployment types to suit different needs. 
Hardware firewalls are physical devices dedicated to protecting a network.
– Software firewalls are applications installed on individual devices, providing security at the device level. 
– Cloud-based firewalls are hosted and managed in the cloud. They are well-suited for businesses with remote or distributed workforces, as they provide centralized security management and can scale easily to accommodate changing needs.

Firewall Types by Function
When it comes to function, there are several types of firewalls, with each providing an extra layer of security:
Packet filtering firewalls make decisions based on characteristics like source and destination IP addresses, port numbers, and protocols, primarily at the network layer.
Stateful inspection firewalls go beyond this, maintaining the state of active network connections to make decisions in the context of those connections, enhancing security. 
Circuit-level gateways operate at the session layer and focus on connection verification. They don’t inspect packet content but ensure connections adhere to network protocols, making them a simple and efficient security option.
Proxy service firewalls operate at the application layer, intercepting and inspecting all network traffic. These firewalls offer granular control over applications and content moving across your network. 
Next-generation firewalls combine traditional firewall capabilities with advanced security features, such as deep packet inspection, intrusion detection, application-layer filtering, and antivirus scanning. They offer comprehensive and proactive threat protection in today’s complex threat environment.
What is the Simplest Firewall?
The software firewall is the most straightforward and affordable firewall for small businesses. It can be installed on individual devices and is generally the most user-friendly. Simple interfaces make software firewalls the easiest to configure and maintain.

For many small businesses, basic software firewalls offer sufficient protection against common threats like unauthorized access and malware. They can block incoming threats and alert you to potential security issues. 

It’s important to note that while software firewalls are simple and cost-effective, they may not provide the same level of security as more advanced firewall solutions. For small businesses with more complex network architectures or specific security needs, a hardware firewall or a cloud-based firewall may be worth considering.