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Products of the Year: Network firewalls

Information Security magazine unveils the best network firewalls of 2004.

GOLD MEDAL: PIX 500 Series
Cisco Systems,
Rating: 85

The PIX 500 Series of robust, feature-rich firewalls and the ubiquity of Cisco's networking equipment produce a powerful security/networking combination. It's no wonder that PIX earned the highest rating among network firewalls.

With the interoperability problems of mixed-vendor environments, Cisco's homogeneity is a definite security management draw. Many users have echoed the words, "We're a Cisco shop," expressed by an engineering technologist, who adds, "We have been migrating steadily to PIX over the past two years."

Moreover, Cisco shops can leverage PIX VPN capabilities with Cisco routers and VPN concentrators to implement highly scalable remote-access and site-to-site VPN services across their enterprises.

Cisco has a lot more to sell than one-stop shopping. The PIX 500 Series, ranging from SOHO devices to large-enterprise appliances, has grown to meet the security demands of a Web-centric world. PIX augments its stateful packet filtering with application-aware services that inspect traffic at layers 4 through 7 and provides URL and content filtering. It also offers options for authenticated access through its own or third-party databases.

"Cisco is doing a good job of improving its firewall and is making its products more usable and more manageable by non-Cisco router geeks," says a senior security architect.

PIX offers an impressive security package that supports the high-performance and media apps, such as VoIP, that businesses are rapidly implementing.

As with many companies that not only maintain but hold a leadership position, Cisco has built an excellent reputation.

"They are the market leader," says one IT manager. "They have the expertise that others don't."

Check Point Software Technologies,
Rating: 79

USER COMMENT: "Check Point is a well-understood firewall, and the software has a good frontend."

BRONZE MEDAL: Sidewinder G2 Security Appliance
Secure Computing,
Rating: 67

USER COMMENT: "Secure Computing has really good customer service. We have no major issues with the firewall."


This was last published in January 2005

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