In this day and age, it should come as no surprise to a modern business owner that IT security is vital if you're to thrive in the digital age.
That's why you've already taken the necessary steps to install some rudimentary anti-virus and ensured Windows Defender is doing its job.
After all, that's enough, right? The real cyber-criminals won't be interested in your SME, not when the potential rewards of hacking into a major corporation are far greater.
So why bother doing anything more than the basic essentials?
Because, whilst carrying out an attack on a large-scale enterprise may prove more lucrative, it also proves to be much more of a challenge than gaining access to your average small business. Criminals know this all too well, making your business an easier, softer option.
So no, basic, bare-bones security just won't cut it in an age of prevalent ransomware attacks and increasingly sophisticated zero-day malware.
Getting The Balance Right
To keep your business safe from such attacks you need the kind of comprehensive protection offered by a firewall, but as many business owners will tell you, finding exactly the right one can sometimes seem like an impossible challenge.
At one end of the spectrum, you've got the low-cost options designed for personal use. Whilst these may be kind to your budget, they simply don't offer the level of protection a business like yours needs.
At the other end, you've got the all-singing, all-dancing solutions which offer powerful protection, high-performance and a wealth of advanced security tools, but which typically come with the kind of price tag that makes them the exclusive reserve of those large-scale corporations.
What you need then, is the best of both worlds; top-level security at a price point more suitable for SMEs like yours.
It would be next to impossible to start our list with anything other than WatchGuard Total Security, a complete, enterprise-level security solution that offers superior protection right out of the box.
At the heart of WatchGuard's offering is its advanced armoury of scanning engines, capable of detecting and preventing a plethora of potential threats, from run-of-the-mill spyware and viruses to the most elaborate zero-day malware attacks, ransomware, botnets and more.
An arsenal of tools is provided to help users respond to threats in real-time, whilst the real highlight is WatchGuard's consistency in providing regular patching to help businesses arm themselves against new and increasingly sophisticated threats.
Of course, whilst future-proof technology itself serves as a powerful first-line of defence when such threats occur, your business will usually benefit by taking a pro-active approach to your security, making important decisions about your infrastructure to keep it well protected.
To help you do this, WatchGuard comes with its own visibility platform, Dimension, which collates data from across your network and turns it into visually-impressive reports that help you to immediately identify what action you need to take to ensure maximum security.
Elsewhere, the use of a multi-core processor ensures that having all of your security controls turned on never means slowing down the performance of your network, whilst everything from initial deployment and configuration to long-term management and policy setting is kept as simple as possible.
SonicWall regularly rank highly in lists of best small business firewalls, usually thanks to their combination of affordable pricing and high-grade performance, particularly for those working across multiple sites.
In fact, that's exactly where SonicWall into their own.
Whilst other brands may have the market sewn up in other areas, few can compete with models like the TZ400 when it comes to creating secure, high-speed connections to your network via a VPN.
Together with the company's unique Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection technology for comprehensive threat-scanning and prevention, SonicWall proves itself to be a popular choice for small businesses who may have several office locations, or who have staff working remotely via their personal devices.
In addition, you'll find cloud-based multi-engine sandboxing for next-level protection against zero-day attacks, flexible and robust web filtering, and an easy-to-use interface, making this a solid option for smaller businesses.
3: Juniper Networks SRX Firewalls
In our experience, it's often the case that budget restrictions prevent many SMEs from investing in the kind of network security they truly need.
With their SRX Series firewalls, Juniper look to tackle that problem by providing enterprise-level protection at entry-level pricing.
A complete Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution, the SRX Series packs more next-generation features than most of its leading competitors, meaning your business will have access to a wealth of options designed to deliver exactly the level of protection you need.
In their sales literature, Juniper are quick to point out the innovative Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) that lies at the heart of their SRX series, and with speeds ranging from 75 Mbps to 100 Gbps depending on the product you buy, not to mention a proven effectiveness in blocking even high-level attacks, it's easy to see why.
Sales pitch aside, what we like the most from our own experience with SRX products is the combination of real-time antivirus scanning of emails and downloads, customisable web filtering, and advanced application security through the patented AppSecure feature, all in one cost-efficient package.
4: CheckPoint Firewalls
Check Point have a long history of producing high-quality security solutions, so it's no surprise to find them mentioned in a list of the top five small business firewalls.
The brand's Next Generation Firewall is a complete, out-of-the-box solution that gives other leading brands a serious run for their money.
As pioneers of the stateful inspection technology that has gone on to serve as the backbone of many a leading firewall, it's reassuring to note that check Point's firewalls do an exceptional job in monitoring the state of active connections and ensuring that only legitimate packets are able to pass through.
Coupled with a superior IPS that rivals (and typically beats) most of its competitors for block rate, integrated application control and security event management tools, and an easy-to-use single console for complete control and management, Check Point should be a top contender for any SME with greater budget flexibility.
And therein lies the catch.
You see, whilst Check Point's Next Generation Firewalls do offer a serious level of protection, they do so at a higher price tag than those set by company's higher on our list.
Still, you get what you pay for here, making this one firewall that should be at least on your radar.
5: Cisco Firewalls
Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention Cisco, who have earned glowing reviews for their entry-level Adaptive Security Appliances (ASAs), powerful all-in-one solutions combining stateful packet firewalls with next-gen IPS, SSL VPN remote access and additional security features, all at entry-level pricing.
Though some of the brand's more affordable products are better suited to smaller businesses (the basic ASA 5505 supports up to 10 users at once on the Local Area Network), those businesses can enjoy high-performance protection of their main office location, along with solid security for remote users,making it a viable alternative to the aforementioned SonicWall.
Elsewhere, easy installation and configuration and solid application security capabilities make this well worth a look for those seeking enterprise-strength protection for smaller SMEs.
Still not sure which firewall is best for your small business? Speak to the network security specialists at Total Group to explore our options. Call now on 01727 881 224, or email firstname.lastname@example.org