More and more homes are being set up to be smart homes with all the bells and whistles (smart cameras, smart doorbells, smart locks, smart assistants, smart this, smart that) with fast internet. If your family is like mine, it feels like everyone and everything is connected to the internet. For the most part, everything runs smoothly. But underneath all of those connections, devices, and the internet is a world of data and quite honestly…danger. How do you really know what each device is doing on your network?
One of the things I get asked quite often is, “What do you use for home network security?” or “What do you use for monitoring your home network?” First, let me state that there are many efficient and easy (and complex) ways to monitor your home’s network. It is a multi-billion dollar industry with a lot of options for a lot of different users. But one of my favorites and the one I use in my home is Firewalla.
At the highest level of why I love Firewalla? Well…firewalls are typically complex (at least for the general homeowner). Firewalla is extremely simple to use. And when you do come across a firewall that is simple, most of the time they are not powerful and lack protection. Most effective firewalls can be very expensive as well. One thing we love about Firewalla is not just the price but the VALUE it delivers for its users. We want to walk you through some of the things that will help you understand what is at work with the world of firewalls and how Firewalla can really help you monitor your home’s network.
What Is A Cyber Security Firewall?
Don’t panic. Those are big words. Let’s break it down for you as simply as possible. A firewall is a cybersecurity measure that is designed to protect a computer, device, or network from unauthorized access. It’s designed to give you control of what does and doesn’t have access. Firewalls can be software-based (such as the Windows Firewall that comes standard with Windows operating systems) or hardware-based (like Firewalla).
A firewall works by blocking incoming and outgoing traffic based on a predetermined set of rules. For example, you might have a rule that blocks all traffic except for traffic originating from your trusted IP addresses. You might have a rule that blocks a domain from being accessed on any device. You might have a rule that blocks access to any app on a smartphone. This would help to prevent unauthorized access to your computer or network from outsiders. Firewalls are so powerful that 100% of all major businesses use several of them throughout their networks. It’s one of the major networking devices for them. “Dale, if they’re so good, why don’t we use them in our home?”. That’s where Firewalla comes into play.
What Type Of Firewall Is Firewalla?
Firewalla is a next-generation firewall that uses stateful inspection and deep packet inspection (DPI) to protect your devices from malicious attacks, while also providing you with visibility into all of your network traffic. What this incredible (yet simple to operate) piece of hardware can do is beneficial for your home network.
Firewalla uses application-level whitelisting and malware detection to protect your devices from unauthorized access, and it also includes a built-in VPN for secure browsing and streaming. We’ve talked about why you would want to use a VPN (they’re pretty cool). Plus, Firewalla’s intuitive mobile app makes it super easy to monitor your home network from anywhere. There is a little confusion on whether or not Firewalla is a firewall. Yes, Firewalla is a firewall. It’s designed to protect your devices and networks from unauthorized access and attacks. Firewalla can be used to protect your home network, office network, or any other type of network. It’s an easy way to keep your data safe and secure. Heck…it’s an easy and effective way to keep your family safe as well!
Firewalla also acts as a VPN service that encrypts your traffic and routes it through servers before it goes out to the internet. This way, you can keep your data private and secure, even on public Wi-Fi networks. Plus, Firewalla gives you the ability to block ads, trackers, and malicious websites. It’s like the Swiss-Army Knife of devices.
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What Does FireWalla Do Again?
To put it plainly, Firewalla is a great way to monitor your home network and see what devices are connected, what apps are being used on those devices, and how much bandwidth each device is consuming (yes…I can see how much bandwidth my son’s Xbox X or Oculus Quest 2 is using). You can also use Firewalla to set parental controls and block specific websites or apps.
Firewalla is a hardware device (an actual thing you can hold) that plugs into your home router and tracks all the traffic going in and out of your network. It then sends all that data to the Firewalla app on your phone (to which you can be the only one who has access), where you can see everything in real-time. You can also go back in time up to 30 days and see what everyone (or device) was doing then.
Firewalla Products At A Glance Lineup
There are a handful of different Firewalla products and we wanted to briefly break down each one to make sure you get the one that will best match your needs. There’s almost a timeline of how Firewalla launched their products. And they’ve been an interesting story and brand to follow for the past several years.
Firewalla Red has launched a handful of years ago with one thing in mind: make cybersecurity simple yet affordable. As a base-level product, Red was designed to give you a basic insight into your devices, manage your family’s internet access, and protect your network from dangerous media. It was Firewalla’s answer to fill in the need for an affordable option.
In 2018, Firewalla launched Blue. This version was designed and engineered to be more powerful than Red by operating at 500 megabits. They added Safe Browsing for kids, a VPN client, and geo-blocking to block basically any country from your network (no more Ukrainian hackers). The built-in VPN client is nice because it allows users to safely browse the internet without exposing their personal information.
Back in 2019 Firewall released a bigger, faster, better version of the Blue called the Blue Plus. All the features of the Blue, but more CPU and memory and a cool feature called Simple Smart Queue which reduces congestion on your network…meaning you can give Netflix a higher priority than your kids Xbox game and you’ll stop seeing buffering.
Firewalla Gold was launched in 2020 and it was the enterprise business “Gold” standard in home cybersecurity. They were aiming for next-gen smart firewall protection for home and business. It still utilized the same software as Blue and Red, but this product processes at 3 gigabits per second and was much more powerful than its predecessors. It was like 30 Red’s packed into one piece of hardware. Firewalla Gold allows you to create private networks (with customized rules for each one), device segmentation, create your own VPN networks so devices could teleport to a remote location, and a lot more other bells and whistles. It is built for businesses.
Gold is a professional grade and highly customizable hardware firewall and router with a lot of awesome features: parental controls, advanced insights into your home network, built-in VPN server, dynamic content filtering, device protection, the ability to block ads, and…no monthly fees. It truly is the “Gold” standard.
We’ll have a full review on the Purple in the very near future, but this latest product has very similar features as the Gold model but is packed into smaller hardware. There’s a small, yet clever wrinkle with Purple though: it has built-in Wi-Fi (short-range Wi-Fi radio) so it can operate as a remote router. Why is that cool? You can take Firewalla Purple on the go (vacation, work remote, etc) and can tether your smartphone to it and provide an internet connection to your devices (up to 8 devices). You don’t have to worry the next time your kids connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi. It’s literally Firewall-on-the-go. It still runs at gigabit speed. Still protects devices. Still allows you to monitor and control internet usage. And yeah…still no monthly fees!