• November 29, 2022

Organizations That Maintain Trust In 2023 Will Thrive

The 2020s are off to a tumultuous start. Individuals have experienced extraordinary political and social upheaval, war on the European continent, the reemergence of infectious diseases, financial instability, scandals, and extreme …

Former Spectrum Strikers Sue Union

Nearly six years ago, around 1800 cable technicians based in the New York City area went on strike against Charter-Spectrum, who they accused of union-busting in the years following Charter Communications’ …

States Where Biomedical Engineers Earn The Most Money In 2022

In a study conducted a few months ago, we analyzed and determined the highest paying medical jobs in the United States in 2022. Cariologists topped that list, but it brought up …

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

The Internet contains many bad actors who spend time probing and hacking, always looking for a way to break 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 enable a hacker to see into your home. A hacker could be watching your children, reading your emails and even stealing your bank details and passwords. It’s easy to see how unprotected many home and business networks are. When you think of it that way, 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 around 25 devices, and a business network may 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 these devices’ data isn’t encrypted and could be vulnerable to attack without a good firewall. When it comes to a business, valuable data, business secrets and sensitive personal data increase the risk to an even higher level.

Firewalla makes a range of hardware firewalls to suit many users. I recently reviewed the Firewalla Purple, a clever portable firewall with a full-blown Linux server running Firewalla’s innovative software so it can stand sentry on a network, keeping everyone and everything safe. The advantage of the Firewalla range is that you don’t need to know anything about networking details to use it effectively. Still, if you fancy learning more about networks and protecting them, the Firewalla range enables you to dig deep and learn precisely how a network is being used and how well it performs.

The latest product from Firewalla is the new Gold Plus firewall. This incredibly well-made device is housed in a robust metal case and offers four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports that can handle a throughput of 5Gbps. That’s fast enough, even for a medium-sized business network. It’s possibly a bit over the top for a home network, but it’s arguably one of the best and most comprehensive network security devices for the money.

Suppose you are lucky enough to have a high-speed fiber Internet connection, the Firewalla Gold Plus can lash two of those multi-gigabit connections together with load balancing and failover, enabling a business to have a super-fast and failsafe Internet connection that’s properly protected and which can handle a lot of data at high speed.

The Firewalla Gold Plus can be set up and managed using the superb Firewalla smartphone app. It takes less than 10 minutes to get everything up and running with the Gold Plus as the master router for a home or office network. The Gold Plus can also be used in parallel or simple mode by plugging it into the network’s main router. In this simple mode, the Gold Plus works by ARP spoofing the main router’s IP address, auditing all the devices on the network, constantly monitoring their performance, and blocking dangerous or unwanted traffic.

The Firewalla Gold Plus will monitor and report back on a whole load of networking stats. It can routinely test the status of the Internet connection and say when it’s down or running slow. It will periodically test the quality of the connection and report on error packets and ping speeds, making you aware of when your connection is not working at optimum efficiency. Gold Plus can even test the Wi-Fi network and report on its speed, so you know if it needs tweaking to get higher throughput.

As well as blocking nasty attacks – like denial of service etc. – Firewalla Gold Plus can rope off parts of the Internet preventing selected users from accessing social media, video streaming or any other categories you may want to block in an office or home environment. This can all be achieved with the Firewalla app. For example, when it’s time for the kids to do their homework, you can use the app to turn off access to the things they shouldn’t be looking at while still allowing them to access resources they need to see. What the Gold Plus is not is an antivirus package. You will still need an excellent antiviral package to protect your email.

Advertisement

Data throughput is also logged by the Firewalla Gold Plus, making it possible to find out who is the office data hog, and who is accessing dodgy websites, which can then be cordoned off. The network can even be segmented with unlimited VLANs, enabling departments to have their own secure area or splitting the home network between work, leisure and guests. It’s an incredibly flexible system and grows even more useful as you learn to use it. Firewalla also sends out regular emails showing how to get the best out of its products, and they are a brilliant and easy way to learn more about networking.

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

I tested the Firewalla Gold Plus for a week. It was easy to set up and the build quality feels 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. Alongside the four Ethernet 2.5Gbps ports are a couple of USB ports that can even be used to host a USB drive working as a NAS (network-attached storage) if you install an auto-mount app. All this knowledge and more is available on the Firewalla website and the guides are highly educational and easy to follow.

Once the Firewalla Gold Plus is up and running, it can be left to do its thing, sitting there 24/7 while it watches over the data moving across the network. If you need to know something, the app will message you and tell you what’s happening. The 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 for taking out on the road easily.

Another great feature of the Gold Plus when it’s being used in Router Mode is the Smart Queue function. It’s possible to set up rules that enable Gold Plus to prioritize specific traffic should the network become congested. Smart Queue ensures the network runs smoothly, prioritizing certain devices by tagging specific data categories as more critical than others. It’s an incredibly agile and clever feature that keeps an eye on the network throughput without requiring expensive 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 handle 5Gbps throughput and multi-gig Internet connections is a game changer and a step up from the Firewalla Gold. You can check the differences between the two products in the table below. And now that there’s a growing number of people working from home, handling sensitive data, and needing secure access to a company network, the Firewalla Gold Plus offers a ready-made solution that can be rolled out to home workers for less than a price of a good quality front door with a proper lock on it. Whether you are a network nerd or someone who needs to protect their network, the Firewalla Gold Plus is a valuable tool for securing a network from malicious attacks and ensuring it runs smoothly, protecting the integrity of a home or office network. Highly Recommended.

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

More info: firewalla.com

Tech Specs:

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.