WatchGuard Firebox Review

Visually able to see what policies are most in use and which traffic was blocked


What is our primary use case?

We use it to protect our web stations and service. 

We established a branch office VPN to our branch office. Since last month, we have added Mobile VPN tunnels to our headquarter.

How has it helped my organization?

We have the ability to use it for connecting to our terminal services, then to the Fireboxes, so we can create user-based policies, which are very important at this time. We can control who has access to management servers and machines that are not for general use by users.

We use a normal packet server. We are also using a proxy service and IPS, so all features are possible with these devices. We have seen many attacks from specific IP addresses that were all blocked. Most times, these were IPS traffic port scans. All this traffic is normally blocked from our side.

The solution simplifies my business. Normally, for administration, we are using Watchguard System Manager on Windows since it's easy to create new policies. In a short amount of time, you can create new policies based on new requirements. For example, in the last few months, many requirements changed due to the coronavirus, adding the use of new services, like Office 365, and eLearning tools, like Zoom.

With Firebox, the monitoring is good. On the Dimension servers, I can see where the IP addresses send and receive a lot of the traffic so I can analyze it. I am also able to see where attacks are coming from. It's good to see visually what policies are most in use and which traffic was blocked. Its easy to visualize policies. The dimension server shows which policy is used and the data flow through the firebox.

What is most valuable?

For our requirements, WatchGuard has very good features available in its software.

It is good for administrating devices. It is reliable and easy to use. Most of the time, the results are what I expected.

The performance of the device is good. The time to load web pages has not been slowed down too much. With additional security features, like APT and IPS, WatchGuard Fireboxes need a moment to check the traffic.

For reporting, we use the Dimension server from WatchGuard where we have many options to analyze traffic. It has a good look and feel on all websites that WatchGuard creates. All pages have the same system, so it's easy to use because the interface is uniform throughout the entire solution.

We are using some of the cloud visibility features. What we use on that cloud is DNSWatch, which checks the DNS records for that site. It is a good feature that stops attacks before they come into the network. For most of our clients, we also run DNSWatchGO, which is for external users, and does a good job with threat detection and response. It is a tool that works with a special client on our workstations. 

What needs improvement?

Sometimes I would like to copy a rule set from one box to another box in a direct way. This is a feature that is not present at the moment in WatchGuard.

I'm missing a tool by default, where you can find unused policies. This is possible when a) you adminstrate the firebox with dimension, or b) you connect it to Watchguard's cloud.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for a long time (for more than a decade).

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. I normally only do a reboot of a Firebox when I upgrade the boxes with new software, so they run sometimes two or three months without a reboot.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable to many environments. With all our locations, we found this solution works.

For the moment, we have around 80 users total at all our locations. The traffic at our headquarters per day is 300 gigabytes.

Our number of Fireboxes has been constant over the last few years, as we don't have new locations. We are a sports organization, so we are not expanding.

How are customer service and technical support?

WatchGuard's support is very good. Over the years, there have been only one or two tickets that were not solved.

When you start as a new customer, you should start with a bit of support from your dealer so you have some training on the boxes and how to manage them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before using WatchGuard, we had a Linux server with iptables. We switched to Firebox because it is much easier to administrate. It has real boxes with a graphical interface, instead of command line administration.

How was the initial setup?

It is relatively easy to set up a new box. In my experience, you have a basic rule set. When you start with a new box, you can quickly make it work, but you always need to specify the services that you need on the boxes. You need some time to create the right policies and services on the box. This is the process for all Fireboxes that you buy.

When you have a small branch office with a small number of policies, you can make them active in production in one or two hours. With complex requirements at your headquarters where you have several networks with servers, web servers, and mail servers which can be accessed from the outside, the configuration will need more time because the number of policies is much higher.

What about the implementation team?

The implenetation was done by the vendor. For us the solution was ok. At this point my knowledge about firewall was not on the level I have today.

What was our ROI?

It saves me three or four a month worth of time because it stops malware. I don't need spend time removing malware from the client.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I think the larger firewall packages are much better because a normal firewall is not enough for these times. You need IPS, APT, and all the security features of a firewall that you can buy.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated some other solutions.

What other advice do I have?

Administration of Fireboxes is only a small part of my job. I have been the network administrator since 1997. While the solution does make less work, I still need a little time to monitor all solutions. 

I would rate this solution as a nine (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

M270, M370, and T30
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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