Basics of Firewall

A security system is one of the most vital components of a computer’s network system. It monitors the incoming and outgoing data and restricts the entry of harmful elements. The firewall analyses numerous criteria and decides whether to allow entry to traffic. These criteria include ports, protocols, and the IP addresses of the origins or destinations.

An efficient firewall blocks malicious traffic and protects a computer from severe attacks. Firewalls are further classified into host-based firewalls and network-based firewalls. The former involves software integration, while the latter is hardware or hybrid integration.

About FortiGate

FortiGate is a new-age firewall offering the highest security to large, medium, and small businesses. It is a product of the leading cyber-security presenters, Fortinet. FortiGate firewalls are uncomplicated, yet their performance is unmatchable. They are customized according to the needs of a business and are built with threat intelligence sensors.

FortiGate firewall has top-notch features like website filters that ensure a business site does not face Social Engineering attacks and malware attacks. It has extremely low latency that safeguards network segments effectively. Besides, this firewall can evaluate risks automatically and share them with all the IT security components.

What is OPNsense?

OPNsense is an open-source firewall and routing platform developed by the Netherlands-based firm, Deciso. It is extremely easy to implement and use and contains a host of premium features. This firewall is the perfect security solution for business houses since it offers open and verifiable sources.

Some of the features of OPNsense include traffic shaper, forward caching proxy, VPN or virtual private network, etc. It allows using LibreSSL and provides important security updates without fail.

Our Use Case

Our primary applications of OPNsense are as follows:

1. Standard Office Use: The IT system of our office requires the protection of a strong firewall that can restrict external attacks. Besides, we also need to protect the confidential data related to our business stored in the computers.

2. VPN: We require a VPN to protect our network system from harmful data thefts. This will also safeguard our access control system and prevent the entry of unauthorized entities.

3. Application Firewall: This will help to monitor the traffic generated or attracted by an application. An application firewall shall block infectious traffic to or from an application.

4. Bandwidth Distribution and Monitoring: Bandwidth distribution indicated the allocation of radio frequencies to various applications. Monitoring bandwidth is highly essential since it helps assess the network traffic and prevent the entry of malicious components.

5. IDS: The IDS or Intrusion Detection System monitors malicious activities and policy breaches in a network system. It is available in the form of a device or software and will keep our system free from harmful activities.

Reasons for our Migration

1. Cost-effective Solution: OPNsense is designed with numerous core features that are available free of cost. Besides, this firewall does not include license charges, which makes it cheaper than others. We get numerous vital features with OPNsense such as load balancing, VPN server, traffic shaping, captive portal, etc. All these features make OPNsense an out-and-out cost-effective firewall solution for our company.

2. Scalability: This firewall can be customized according to the needs of a business. It is highly scalable and can easily accommodate expansions. The existing functioning of the firewall remains unaffected by expansions, which increases its efficiency. Therefore, it will be hard for us to find a more scalable firewall than OPNsense.

3. Support: OPNsense offers top-notch technical support in the best way possible. We are provided with all types of technical support required while handling this firewall. This made us choose OPNsense over FortiGate for our network security requirements.

4. The Best Open-source Alternative: We were searching for a feature-rich open-source firewall, and OPNsense fits into our requirements in the best way. It is an open-source firewall designed with some of the top features required for our business’ security.

Benefits

1. Cost: OPNsense does not involve any license and setup charges. This makes it highly budget-friendly and an inexpensive solution for our business.

2. Customized Hardware Components: OPNsense allows us to choose hardware components according to our requirements. We only need to abide by the recommendations generated by the makers of the firewall.

3. Features: 

a)     OPNsense spoils us with numerous features that are unique and highly in demand. These features include:

·        SSL VPN: OPNsense deploys OpenVPN for the SSL VPN Road Warrior infrastructure. This helps remote users who need to access the computer system of our business. It also generates an OTP using standard tokens and Google Authenticator, which adds safety to the network system.

·        Advanced User Management with LDAP and Active Directory: OPNsense can regulate the access to various components of the configurator, including external services like Active Directory (AD) and LDAP.

b) Web Server like Nginx: Nginx is a free and open-source web server having a very high performance. It increases the speed of content and application delivery and offers top-class protection to the system. Nginx increases the availability and scalability of busy websites over the internet. It can detect errors timely in dynamic content and proxy applications.

c) Monitoring with Netdata: OPNsense uses Netdata to monitor our website server. Netdata is an open-source application that accurately collects and organizes real-time metrics like bandwidth usage, CPU usage, websites visited, disk activities, etc.

d) Bandwidth Monitoring and Packet Inspection: OPNsense has a Suricata-based Intrusion Prevention System, which uses Netmap to improve the performance of CPU and minimizes its use. Besides, this firewall has a powerful deep packet inspection system. It can identify and prevent security attacks efficiently.

e) IDS: OPNsense has an efficient IDS or intrusion detection system. We will have to select a set of protocols based on the network traffic we want to monitor. These protocols will be updated in short intervals to ensure the latest features are not missed out on.

f) Advanced Backups: OPNsense supports an advanced backup system. The configuration segment of this firewall has applications that can track the setup and maintain a backup. This backup can be restored further as and when required. We can choose the number of backups required, and thus, it is possible to maintain multiple backup copies of vital data.

Cons

OPNsense is a well-designed firewall that has offered us numerous vital features. We are satisfied with its performance and have not encountered any issues since its integration.

Comparison Table for FortiGate and OPNsense