Setting up a firewall is the key to protecting your network perimeter. The firewall blocks important ports and filters incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent malicious connections and ensure that there are no unwanted communications.
There are many firewall solutions in the world. Here is a list of the best firewalls to protect your Linux network.
1. Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW)
UFW or Uncomplicated Firewall is the default firewall solution in Ubuntu and many famous Linux distributions. It uses the Netfilter framework, a built-in component of the Linux kernel, to monitor and manage network traffic.
If you are new and looking for a free and easy to use firewall with basic features, you can adapt to using UFW as it is readily available on your system. All you have to do is call it and implement your configurations.
IPFire is a free, secure and open source firewall distribution. It’s not a software package, but an entire operating system. It was originally distributed as part of the IPCop project. At the moment, it has evolved into a standalone operating system based on Linux From Scratch (LFS).
IPFire offers a minimal approach and an intuitive color-coded user interface. Beginners will find it very easy to navigate the system and customize it according to their requirements.
In addition to the firewall features, IPFire offers additional intrusion detection and prevention capabilities, and also works as a VPN. If you need a feature rich, dedicated and lightweight firewall solution and are on a tight budget, you can rely on IPFire.
OPNsense is an open source FreeBSD-based firewall distribution that offers a free and paid subscription-based version of OPNsense Business. It is an advanced firewall system that offers many additional features besides monitoring and managing network traffic.
Some of the flagship features of OPNsense include the ability to deeply analyze network packets, filter web traffic, and combat external threats with the built-in Intrusion Detection System (IDS).
Along with these great features, OPNsense is the choice of many for its easy-to-use web interface, documentation, and multilingual support. If you are looking for a serious advanced network security solution, you can rely on the richness of the OPNsense firewall system.
4. Endian Firewall (EFW)
Endian Firewall is an open source stateful firewall distribution. It is available as free software or as paid software if you want customer support. It comes with real-time packet monitoring, antivirus, website statistics logging, and more.
EFW is very flexible and you can customize it for both home and corporate users. It can create a highly secure and scalable network perimeter.
Shorewall software, like UFW, is a firewall interface that runs on the Netfilter platform to monitor and filter network traffic. It is open source and free to use. Unlike the other firewall solutions mentioned (except UFW), Shorewall does not require dedicated hardware or virtualized containers to run.
You can simply download and install the software package and deploy it. Although Shorewall is a very simple piece of software, don’t underestimate its capabilities as it is highly customizable and adapts quickly to rapidly changing network environments.
pfSense is an open source firewall platform based on FreeBSD. It is also the parent project from which the OPNsense fork was created. This is why there are many fundamental similarities between pfSense and OPNsense. pfSense provides advanced network security and intrusion detection, and you can use it as a router, DHCP, or DNS server.
It is highly customizable and flexible in its application. In addition, a highly accessible web-based control center makes it very easy to manage pfSense and get a complete overview of the network perimeter’s security level.
Due to its history, pfSense is well documented to help new users become familiar with the environment. The commercial version of the pfSense firewall also offers tutorials.
7. ConfigServer Security and Firewall (CSF)
ConfigServer Firewall (CSF) is a free, cross-platform, general-purpose stateful firewall solution. CSF offers many features. From tracking processes and logins to sensitive services to setting up custom email alerts whenever the system detects suspicious connections, you can configure CSF to do pretty much everything a firewall should do, and more.
Since this is a high-tech firewall solution, it is recommended that only system administrators or technically savvy users use this firewall on their network.
Smoothwall is a free and open source firewall distribution with enhanced security. It is one of the advanced firewall solutions, equipped with features such as real-time traffic monitoring, web content filtering, emergency recording management and more. Although it is free software, you can also purchase commercial versions of Smoothwall if needed. Prices for the commercial edition are based on quotes.
Similar to UFW and Shorewall, Vuurmuur is a free and open source firewall utility that uses built-in Linux kernel firewall components such as iptables and Netfilter to manage the network perimeter. It offers an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) for configuring the firewall.
Vuurmuur sits in a gray area between minimal and feature rich at the same time. Its GUI makes it accessible to general users and since it is fully scriptable, you can easily implement your automation scripts.
ClearOS is an open source firewall distribution based on CentOS. While its flagship versions are paid products, there is a free and community free version that you can download and deploy right now. ClearOS, unlike other firewalls of this level, is relatively easy to install and configure.
Once you’ve installed ClearOS, you can start configuring it using the user-friendly web-based control panel. Even better, ClearOS is a widely used software and therefore well documented. If you run into any issues with ClearOS, reading the documentation is sure to resolve your conflicts.
You should not take network security lightly. An attacker with unsolicited access to your network could track your movements on the Internet and potentially take over your devices, or worse, your virtual identity.
While securing your network may seem like a tedious task that requires technical knowledge, in fact, a secure network is built on basic digital hygiene and a few important configurations of your Internet connection. Learn more about how to set up a secure network at home.
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