Firewall Gold Plus is the perfect firewall for small businesses and home networks

Imagine building a house and not putting a proper front door in it. Instead of a solid and lockable door, imagine placing a piece of fabric over the opening where the door should be to keep people out and your belongings safe. I know, it sounds completely ridiculous and yet many people do something very similar with their home network by not adequately protecting it.

The Internet contains many bad actors who spend time searching and hacking, always looking for a way to get into a network to see what they can find. And when you consider that your home network will probably have devices on it that could allow a hacker to see into your home. A hacker can watch your kids, read your emails and even steal your bank details and passwords. It’s easy to see how unprotected many home and business networks are. When you think about it like this, it makes sense to put a strong digital door and lock on your network to protect valuable personal data.

These days, the average home network will have about 25 devices, and a business network can have many more. These devices will include smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, security cameras, printers and wireless speakers. The list is almost endless. Much of the data on these devices is not encrypted and could be vulnerable to attacks without a good firewall. When it comes to a business, valuable data, trade secrets and sensitive personal data raise the risk to an even higher level.

Firewalla builds a range of hardware firewalls to suit many users. I recently reviewed Firewalla Purple, a smart portable firewall with a full-fledged Linux server running Firewalla’s innovative software so it can stand guard over a network, keeping everyone and everything safe. The advantage of the Firewalla series is that you don’t need to know anything about networking details to use it effectively. However, if you want to learn more about networks and protect them, the Firewalla series lets you dig deep and learn exactly how a network is being used and how well it’s performing.

Firewalla’s latest product is the new Gold Plus firewall. This incredibly well-built device is housed in a sturdy metal case and offers four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports that can handle 5Gbps speed. That’s pretty fast, even for a medium-sized business network. It’s probably a bit above a home network, but it’s arguably one of the best and most comprehensive network security devices for the money.

Assuming you’re lucky enough to have a high-speed fiber optic Internet connection, Firewalla Gold Plus can connect two of these multi-gigabit connections with load balancing and failover, allowing a business to have an ultra-fast and secure connection to Internet that is properly protected and can handle a lot of data at high speed.

You can set up and manage Firewalla Gold Plus using the wonderful Firewalla smartphone app. It takes less than 10 minutes to get everything up and running with the Gold Plus as the primary router for a home or office network. The Gold Plus can also be used in parallel or single mode by connecting it to the main network router. In this simple mode, Gold Plus works with ARP to spoof the IP address of the main router, control all devices on the network, constantly monitor their performance and block dangerous or unwanted traffic.

Firewalla Gold Plus will monitor and report a large number of networking statistics. It can regularly check the status of your Internet connection and tell when it is down or slow. It will periodically check your connection quality and report error packets and ping speeds, letting you know when your connection isn’t performing at optimal performance. Gold Plus can even test your Wi-Fi network and report its speed, so you know if it needs tweaking to perform better.

Besides blocking nasty attacks – like denial of service etc. – Firewlla Gold Plus can block parts of the internet preventing selected users from accessing social media, video streaming or any other categories you might want to block in an office or home environment. All this can be achieved with the Firewalla application. For example, when it’s time for kids to do their homework, you can use the app to turn off access to things they shouldn’t see, while still allowing them access to resources they should see. What Gold Plus is not is an antivirus package. You’ll still need an excellent antivirus package to protect your email.

Data processing is also recorded by Firewalla Gold Plus, making it possible to find out who is the office data controller and who has access to inappropriate websites, which can then be blocked. The network can even be segmented with unlimited VLANs, allowing departments to have their own secure area or dividing the home network between work, leisure and guests. It’s an incredibly versatile system and gets even more useful as you learn to use it. Firewalla also sends regular emails showing how to get the most out of their products and is a great and easy way to learn more about networking.

Jerry Chen is one of the brains behind the Firewalla series and a Cisco veteran. What Chen doesn’t know about networking probably isn’t worth knowing. He and his team release regular updates to the app and hardware, ensuring the latest threats are addressed and blocked. The support team at Firewalla is great at answering tough questions and knows the Firewalla line inside out.

I tried Firewalla Gold Plus for a week. It was easy to set up and the build quality is second to none. Inside the metal case is a proper Linux server running Ubuntu on an Intel processor. It can even run apps if that’s what you want to do. Along with the four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports are a couple of USB ports that can even be used to host a USB drive that acts as a NAS (network attached storage) if you install an automount app. All this knowledge and more is available on the Firewalla website and the guides are highly educational and easy to follow.

Once Firewalla Gold Plus is up and running, you can let it do its thing, sitting there 24/7 while it monitors data moving across the network. If you need to know something, the app will text you and tell you what’s going on. Gold Plus can even be used as a VPN server or VPN client, offering a secure and encrypted private connection that brings another layer of protection to a network. This is essential when working away from the office using a public network such as a hotel or coffee shop. Firewalla even makes the portable Firewalla Purple so you can easily take it on the road.

Another great feature of the Gold Plus when used in router mode is the Smart Queue feature. It is possible to set rules that allow Gold Plus to prioritize specific traffic in case of network congestion. Smart Queue keeps the network running smoothly by prioritizing certain devices, marking certain categories of data as more critical than others. It’s an incredibly flexible and intelligent feature that monitors network flow without requiring costly human intervention.

Verdict: The new Firewalla Gold Plus firewall is an essential tool for business networks and would also be useful for hybrid workers who need to access a corporate network securely. The ability to manage 5 Gbps throughput and multicast Internet connections is a game changer and a step up from Firewalla Gold. You can check the differences between the two products in the table below. And now that there are a growing number of people who work from home, handle sensitive data and need secure access to a corporate network, Firewalla Gold Plus offers a ready solution that can be made available to home workers for less than the price of a good quality front end door with proper lock. Whether you’re a network nerd or someone who needs to protect their network, Firewalla Gold Plus is a valuable tool for protecting a network from malicious attacks and ensuring it runs smoothly, protecting the integrity of a home or office network. Recommended.

Prices & Availability: The Firewalla Gold Plus firewall is shipping now and costs $579.

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