Certifications / Security

Palo Alto vs Fortinet Networks: Comparing Top NGFWs

by Team Nuggets
Palo Alto vs Fortinet Networks: Comparing Top NGFWs picture: A
Published on April 26, 2022

Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) are important products for both large-scale and enterprise networks. They provide capabilities that are greater than those of stateful firewalls. NGFW adds more features such as URL filtering, intrusion prevention (IPS), application control, and capabilities such as advanced threat prevention.

Both Palo Alto and Fortinet networks have ranked as the top NGFWs in recent years. Additionally, both have the most NGFWs capabilities. However, there are several key differences between them in features, performance, security, and pricing. 

Palo Alto and Fortinet Features Breakdown

Palo Alto has four major types of features: APP-ID, Content-ID, User-ID, and Device-ID. Here's a quick breakdown of each one:

  • APP-ID. It is a traffic classification technology that is patented and owned by Palo Alto only. It establishes an application irrespective of the protocol, port, and SSL/TLS/SSH encryptions. It also applies various classification mechanisms such as application protocol decoding, application signatures, and heuristics to the users' traffic stream to precisely identify applications.

  • Content-ID. This feature technology in Palo Alto inputs several advanced threat prevention technologies that conduct a single scan in all allowed traffics. With the content-ID feature, Palo Alto can also block buffer overflows, vulnerability exploits, protect against external attacks and perform port scans.

  • User-ID. The featured technology is useful in defining policies that can safely enable individual users or groups of users in inbound or outbound directions. For instance, the user can only allow the IT department to use the FTP tools and SSH telnet on standard ports. With this feature, the policy follows the user’s clients in all the devices they use and their location does not matter i.e. branch office, home, or headquarters.

  • Device-ID: This is a new policy feature that enables administrators to write policies per the device’s characteristics. The features allow security teams to write policies related to devices instead of the location or IP addresses, which can easily change with time and also help them to understand how events relate to devices.

Fortinet

Fortinet FortiGate is the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant leader among the network firewalls leaders due to its amazing features. It delivers great enterprise security for all edges at all scales with threat protection and full visibility. FortiGate has several great features and benefits.

  • Full Visibility and Protection: This feature commands and control attacks, stop ransomware, automated threat protection, and other threats that are hidden with SSL inspection (i.e. TLS 1.3)

  • Hyperscale Security: Due to the demand for security, this feature enables the build of ultra-scalable driven security networks that satisfy all clients.

  • Security Fabric Integration: The feature enables sharing of actionable intelligence on all threats across the entire attack surface, which creates a coordinated and consistent end-to-end security posture.

  • Natively Integrated Proxy: This feature adds FortiClient and provides a smooth user experience and great security to all hybrid personnel with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

  • Automation–driven Network Management: The feature helps in building efficient and large-scale operations with a user-friendly centralized management console.

  • FortiGuard Security Service: The feature concurrently runs DNS security service, IPS, and consolidates run IPS, video, and web filtering to manage risk and reduce cost.

Evaluating Palo Alto vs. Fortinet Performance

They are both among the most performing NGFWs as Palo Alto recently topped all the tested firewalls in the NSS labs with a performance of 7888 Mbps and Fortinet recorded an impressive performance of 6753 Mbps considering it is a low-cost solution.

Security

When it comes to security, both are well-equipped to handle most threats. Fortinet's FortiGate 500E had a recent rating of 99.3% security effectiveness, while Palo Alto scored a rating of 98.7%.

Palo Alto suits all areas that require the best network security and is extremely effective in reacting to any malware threats.

The following are some security features that Palo Alto firewalls offer:

  • DNS Security: They have high-security measures starting with DNS security. More than 80% of malware uses DNS to create a command-and-control channel. Because the traffic volume is extremely high in DNS, attackers easily hide there. Most organizations lack the right tools to properly monitor their servers. Palo Alto provides a DNS security that can prevent DNS attacks, applies machine learning and predictive analytics. It also eliminates the need for other independent tools and DNS routing.

  • Data Loss Prevention: The other security tool from Palo Alto is Networks Enterprise Data Loss Prevention (DLP). It is the first cloud-delivered security in the industry and it easily discovers, monitors, and protects all sensitive data across all users, networks, and the cloud.

  • URL Filtering: It enables its users to safely use their web for business needs. It does this uniquely by identifying threats from a combination of machine learning and static analysis.

  • SD-WAN: SD-WAN enables its users to simply adopt an end-to-end SD-WAN architecture with world-class connectivity and security.

  • 5G-Native Security: Enterprises are looking to 5G networks to push the industries to the age of AI, automation, and cloud leveraging. Users will highly rely on the cloud and edge compute — and Palo Alto 5G-native security provides a safe environment for distributed edge clouds, enterprise 5G networks, and cloud-native 5G core.

FortiGate

As the network edges emerge and increase in popularity, people need reliable and effective security. FortiGate's security tools include:  

  • Web Security: They are optimized to mainly protect and monitor data against web-based attacks which assists its users in meeting their compliances.

  • Content Security: These security tools are optimized to monitor and protect against attack tactics that target files.

  • Device Security: These security tools optimize to monitor and protect against attacks that target devices.

  • Advanced Tool: These security tools secure hybrid, multi-cloud, which weaves deep security into hybrid data networks to secure good end-to-end security across multiple clouds.

The other security program is a segment that prevents lateral spread; enforce security for all segmentations, network, application, or endpoint. It also achieves port-level segmentation and achieves dynamic trust with the integration of the Fortinet Security Fabric.

The other security program manages against vulnerabilities and also stops security threats, which is offered with virtual patching. The other security tool protects the user’s perimeters by providing full visibility, remediating and detecting ransomware, and any threats that may hide in the HTTPS traffic. Another effective security tool is the Driver Hyperscale that has efficient performance without network impact.  

How Much do Palo Alto and Fortinet Cost?

Palo Alto Networks offers a wide range of NGFW options. Their most recent appliances are the PA-220R at $1,000. They also offer PA-800, PA-3200, PA-5200,PA-7050, PA-7080-series appliances. And will soon be releasing PAN-OS 9.0 These solutions range in price between $2,900 to $200,000.

For Fortinet entry-level hardware appliances, prices start at $500. Their high-end enterprise solution can reach a price of up to $350,000 for 7060E-8. The pricing covers both services and hardware, which includes FortiCare support and FortiGuard subscription options.

Users can purchase both services and bundles individually or in bundles. Cloud and virtual offerings also follow the same price model. The NSS-tested 500E sells from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on both support level and warranty.

Final Thoughts

After our in-depth comparison of Palo Alto and Fortinet, it is evident that Palo Alto is better in a few aspects. First, it has a security measure that does not majorly consume the user's bandwidth. In some cases, Fortinet firewalls report slow rates without enabling the security protection and other instances disable configuration security features. However, Palo Alto has a single-pass architecture that enables it to protect and inspect traffic at higher rates.  

Secondly, Palo Alto has an extended life and usability. Some of the products offered by Fortinet at a low cost have average firewalls that fail between 3-5 years and can no longer be reprogrammed with a new OS and protect a user’s network. Palo Alto, however, is well-architected with a highly flexible chipset that can be easily updated, which increases the lifespan of its firewall solutions


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