fbpx Skip to main content

What’s the difference between consumer and business-grade firewalls?

By April 15, 2019Security
Business-Grade Firewall | Next Generation Firewall

Why isn’t it a good idea to go out to your local Best Buy and get a consumer-grade firewall for your business? Can’t you save a few bucks this way, rather than getting a business-grade firewall?

Well…you can. But there is a huge difference between a firewall meant for personal home use versus a business-grade firewall that’s equipped with the tools that a business needs for protection. A consumer-grade firewall won’t be the best solution for your business. Here’s why.

What is a firewall?

In networking, a firewall is a tool that “monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic” (Wikipedia). A firewall is meant to block unauthorized access to your system. It is the first line of defense for your network. It’s often a piece of hardware, but a firewall can also be software, or a combination of both hardware and software.

what does a standard firewall do?

A basic consumer-grade firewall is designed for ease of use, so anyone with little IT knowledge can install and configure it. Some commons features include:

  • Packet Filtering: Filters incoming and outgoing data (“packet”) and accepts or rejects it based on rules
  • Application Gateways & Proxy Servers: Connects systems in different networks using a proxy server, to hide and protect computers behind the firewall
  • Circuit-Level Gateway: Determines whether requested sessions are legitimate
  • Stateful Inspection or Dynamic Packet Filtering: Determines if information is authorized

Consumer firewalls prioritize speed over security. And yes, they’re cheaper. But keep in mind that low cost indicates a consumer-grade firewall is of lower quality and isn’t built to last for a long time. These firewalls aren’t upgradeable either – they are disposable. They will need to be completely replaced much more frequently than business-grade hardware.

What does a business-grade firewall do?

So, if that’s everything that your standard consumer-grade firewall does…what’s it missing? What does a business-grade firewall have that makes it the better choice for business use?

The first difference is in priorities: Where a consumer-grade firewall prioritizes speed over security, a business firewall prioritizes security, remote access, and scalability. Security should be your top priority – and your firewall’s too.

The most popular business-grade firewalls are called “next-generation” firewalls. They can detect and block more complicated attacks and intrusions. They also provide much more granular control and settings for security measures at the port, protocol, and application levels. Some features include:

  • Detect application-specific attacks
  • Deeper control over individual applications
  • Active directory integration
  • SSL inspection
  • Malware reputation-based filtering
  • Block traffic based on geographic location
  • Intelligence in improving blocking decisions
  • Highlight deviations from normal application behaviors
  • Content filtering
  • Anti-virus and anti-spyware features

The right tool for the right job

The ultimate gap between consumer-grade and business-grade firewalls is in their intended purpose and what uses they are developed to handle. A consumer-grade firewall is only designed to protect data for a couple of individuals – like a family. They are intended for a simple home network, with far less data to protect and less traffic to handle. Plus, these simpler firewalls are merely reactive. They do not provide proactive monitoring and defense.

Business-grade firewalls, on the other hand, are designed with much more complex and intense business use in mind. A next-generation firewall is specifically designed to aggressively safeguard a business’s critical data and devices against large-scale attacks and sophisticated threats. To do this, they come with a much more advanced toolset and features that are required in a business environment.

Plus, business-grade firewalls frequently come with continuous support, updates, and management by IT professionals…which you certainly will not get with an off-the-shelf firewall from Office Depot.

Meeting compliance standards

Do you need to comply with standards in your industry? Do you handle medical information and have to comply with HIPAA standards? Are you a law firm with sensitive data? Compliance laws may require certain technical and security standards. A consumer-grade firewall will not be compliant and cannot offer the features required in some cases.

Your business is professional, and your firewall should be too

The conclusion is this: Don’t use a consumer-grade firewall to protect your business, even if it’s tempting to save a few bucks. The choice between a consumer-grade and business-grade equipment is usually a choice between rudimentary basics and an aggressively proactive feature set. A professional business-grade, next-generation firewall is a much smarter investment that will provide you with better security, performance, and peace of mind in the long run.


Recent Posts / View All Posts

Disaster Recovery

Importance of a Reliable Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business

| Email, Managed Services, Security | No Comments
Running a business is not always a smooth-sailing operation. There are often things that could go wrong regardless of how cautious you are or how hard you abide by the so-called rules. Because of this, you should have a good backup and disaster recovery plan in case a disaster happens, like an accident or a cyberattack. There are plenty of BDR solutions for different businesses. You must find the one that fits your needs and will protect your network and data in the best way possible. Understanding Backup Disaster Recovery All businesses deal with important information, like details about transactions,…
Social Media Phishing

Quiz Time: Can You Handle Social Media Phishing Attacks at work?

| Managed Services, Security | No Comments
Our last three blogs have discussed cybersecurity threats and how they affect a business. We have talked about the dangers that stem from various types of malware. We have warned you about the newest cybersecurity risks expected to wreak havoc on businesses soon. And in the face of the ongoing growing acceptance of remote work setups, we have delved into the threats related to working from home. Now, we will now talk about social media phishing. The common thing in all these topics is that they are all linked to phishing. A strong phishing attack can make a network open…
Risks of Working from Home

Addressing the Cybersecurity Risks of Working from Home

| Business Productivity, Managed Services, Security, Tech Tip | No Comments
A remote workforce has become the norm since the pandemic. Even now that we consider it safe to return to office work, many businesses have maintained the remote work setup because of the advantages. However, the risks of working from home also bring issues that need attention so as not to risk the company’s network and data. What Are the Cybersecurity Risks That Come with Working from Home? There are risks when working from home. Workers lack the usual protective measures used in an office network. Many workers use their home networks and may also use the same device for…