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Check Point NGFW OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Check Point NGFW is the #2 ranked solution in our list of best firewalls. It is most often compared to Fortinet FortiGate: Check Point NGFW vs Fortinet FortiGate

What is Check Point NGFW?

Offered via the Check Point Infinity architecture, Check Point’s NGFW includes 23 Firewall models optimized for running all threat prevention technologies simultaneously, including full SSL traffic inspection, without compromising on security or performance. Learn More about Next Generation Firewall and What is Firewall?

Check Point NGFW is also known as Check Point NG Firewall, Check Point Next Generation Firewall.

Check Point NGFW Buyer's Guide

Download the Check Point NGFW Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Check Point NGFW Customers

Control Southern, Optimal Media

Check Point NGFW Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Check Point NGFW pricing:
  • "It can be expensive, but it's value for money. What you pay for is what you get."
  • "You get licensing bundles, so depending on which features you want to activate, your license is going to be more expensive. Some things, like Threat Extraction and Threat Emulation, require subscriptions."
  • "There are three types of licensing: Threat Prevention, NGTP, and Next Generation Threat Extraction. Before, it used to be you would just enable the license of whatever blade you wanted to buy. Nowadays, Threat Prevention would be sufficient for most clients, so I would think people would go for the NGTP, license which includes all the blades."
  • "We had to get separate licenses for the different blades. It would be nice to have a feature where we can get the multiple licenses all-in-one instead."
  • "The pricing of Check Point is fair when compared to others."
  • "One of the main reasons that we went with Check Point is that they provide a good solution for a firewall but at an affordable price. As a state agency, we can't afford Cisco Firepower. It's just out of our budget to be able to pay for something where licensing and hardware are so expensive. Check Point has really met our needs for a budget-friendly solution."

Check Point NGFW Reviews

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PS
Principal Network and Security Consultant at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
Central architecture means we can see an end-to-end picture of attacks

Pros and Cons

  • "Check Point definitely has a great architecture, where you can just enable the software blades and deploy a secure service. Overall, it provides ease of deployment and ease of use."
  • "The area it needs improvement is the SandBlast Agent. It receives a file, or if it detects a Zero-day attack, it takes the file and analyzes it, either on-premise or in the Check Point Cloud, and then it reports back whether the file is secure or non-secure, or is unknown. That particular area definitely needs a bit more improvement, because there is a delay... where it needs improvement is where [SandBlast is] an appliance-based solution rather than a software or cloud-based solution."

What is our primary use case?

I support multiple clients within the UK, the EMEA region, the US, and now in Asia Pacific as well. I specialize in Check Point firewalls. I design and secure their data centers, their on-premises solutions, or their businesses security.

The firewalls are mostly on-premise because most of our clients are financial organizations and they have strict compliance requirements. They feel more secure and have more control when things are on-premise in the data center. However, there are use cases where I have helped them to deploy Check Point solutions in the cloud: AWS, Azure, and in Google as well. But cloud deployments are very much in the early stages for these clients, on a development or testing basis. Most of the production workloads are still on-premise in data centers.

Most of my customers are still using R77.30, and they are on track to upgrade from that to R80, which is the current proposed version by Check Point.

How has it helped my organization?

One of our customers has just recently been attacked by malware and internal DoS attacks, and they have a multi-vendor, multi-layer firewall approach. The internal firewalls are Check Point. The great thing about Check Point is that because of its central architecture, you can very quickly pinpoint where the attacks are coming from. It gives you comprehensive reporting when the attacks start and when they've stopped, so you can see the complete, end-to-end picture: where the point of attack is, at what time, and what host. They can track all of that.

However, in parallel, that customer is using other firewalls which have no visibility. One of the main advantages of having Check Point firewall is definitely that it gives you absolute in-depth visibility.

What is most valuable?

Among the valuable features are antivirus, URL inspection, and anti-malware protection. These are all advanced features.

One of the great advantages of having Check Point as a firewall is that all of these are software blades, so you can buy a license or subscription and enable them and get the security up and running. With other firewalls, it's a completely different agenda, meaning some of them require hardware modules, and some of them have a complex way of adding the licensing, etc. Check Point definitely has a great architecture, where you can just enable the software blades and deploy a secure service. Overall, it provides ease of deployment and ease of use.

What needs improvement?

The area it needs improvement is the SandBlast Agent. It receives a file, or if it detects a Zero-day attack, it takes the file and analyzes it, either on-premise or in the Check Point Cloud, and then it reports back whether the file is secure or non-secure, or is unknown. That particular area definitely needs a bit more improvement, because there is a delay. That's one of the main complaints for most of our customers. Or if it is quick, then it's very complex. For example, if they have received a file which is "unknown" or has Zero-day attack malware, sometimes it doesn't get analyzed properly or it's locked into the cloud. So there are various small issues with the product that need possible improvement.

The SandBlast product on its own is a very good concept, and it works absolutely brilliantly. However, when you integrate it with existing firewalls, it just doesn't play very well.

The cloud solution is quite straightforward because it seems the SandBlast solution was designed, initially, for cloud deployments, where you've got multiple clouds or multiple vendors, and you are receiving files from different points. And on the cloud edge, for example in AWS, if you have Check Point sitting there, it works very well if you're running a virtual firewall. However, if it's on-premise and it's a dedicated appliance, then the performance is slightly different and the way it works is very different. So where it needs improvement is where it's an appliance-based solution rather than a software or cloud-based solution.

If I am using SandBlast on a virtual appliance — for example, I've got Check Point virtual appliances in AWS, and Azure as well, for a customer — those virtual appliances work absolutely fine as a service, as does SandBlast as a service. However, if it's an appliance, if it's a dedicated firewall on-premise in a data center and you add SandBlast as a software service, the integration is not that straightforward, so the experience is very different. 

It seems like they were possibly built by different teams, independent of each other.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Check Point firewalls for about 16 years. I am the main network or security lead and I have four other engineers who report to me. They also do design and deployment.

I work with approximately 40 companies that utilize Check Point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Check Point firewalls are very stable. One good thing about Check Point is that they do rigorous testing internally before releasing updates, which is something I have not found with any other firewall products. With most of the other firewall products, when they release something, it's like the customer becomes the guinea pig for that particular version, whether a minor or a major update. However, with Check Point, you can see all the white papers and what ways they have tested a minor or major upgrade of the software version, and what the performance was like. What are their known issues and is somebody working on them or not?

So the software releases are very stable and you have visibility into how they operate and what the known issues are, so you know whether you should go ahead with them or not. And in case there is a problem, the support is excellent. You can reach out to Check Point and say, "Look, I've done the software upgrade and I'm experiencing these problems. How can I deal with them?" They are there to help you out.

There are times when we have problems in terms of software or hardware defects. We have sustained downtime, but most of the architecture I design is resilient, so if one device is down, the other one is working fine. Then in the background, I or my support team will deal with Check Point directly, to get a replacement. They're definitely quick to respond and very efficient. 

In the past, we had a lot of problems with licensing, specifically, but Check Point has redone the whole way they do licensing. It's very quick now, and very efficient.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Check Point firewalls are extremely scalable. Recently, I deployed Check Point in an AWS cloud solution for one of my clients, and it's been absolutely excellent in handling growth. They've grown from 10,000 users to a million users. The way Check Point has advertised the product, it is supposed to be highly scalable, which means it grows as your demand grows, and that has been the case. 

Recently we have set up a test case where we are moving over management servers from on-premise to a Check Point-provided Infinity cloud solution. We are still at the testing phase but, overall, it's been a great experience so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

The teams we deal with within Check Point are extremely knowledgeable. They know how to understand the background of the problem, and they're very good about articulating how we deal with the issue, whether it's a minor software upgrade issue or it's a major failure of the hardware itself. They know where to look for the right stuff. The key point is they're very knowledgeable and very technical. And if somebody doesn't have the technical capability, they will definitely help you out to make sure you get to the bottom of the problem.

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

In the past, most of the customers I've worked with have used different firewall vendors, such as Cisco, Palo Alto, and Juniper.

I've recently seen deployments where customers have tried to move from Cisco ASA to Cisco Firepower and the deployment has gone horribly wrong because the product has not been tested by Cisco very well and is not a mature product. I've gone in and reviewed their business requirements and technical requirements and, based on that, I've recommended Check Point and done the design and deployment. They've absolutely been happy with the solution, how secure and how capable it is.

We use Check Point across multiple types of customers, such as financials, retail, and various other public and private sector organizations. I review their security architecture, which is firewall specific and, based on that, I have recommended Check Point. In most cases, I've managed to convince them to go ahead with Check Point firewalls as a preferred secure firewall solution.

The main reason is that Check Point is far ahead in the game. They're definitely the market leader. They are visionaries when it comes to security. Another reason is that a lot of firewall architecture starts from the firewall itself, which is the local firewall. It can easily be hacked and manipulated. However, the Check Point architecture, out-of-the-box, is very secure. They have a central Management Server and all of the firewalls are managed through that one central point. So in case somebody breaks into your firewall, the firewall is encrypted; they will delete the database. The architecture is secure by default. The good thing is that other firewall vendors have realized this and they've started to copy the same system that Check Point has used for the past 20 years now.

How was the initial setup?

When working with the Check Point team on deployment, they're really helpful and very talented people. When you speak to other firewall vendors, they just think about the firewall from their point of view. The good thing about Check Point engineers, or technical staff, or even management staff, is that they understand what the requirements of business are and how they can improve or align the proposed solution. Overall, Check Point staff are very knowledgeable, they understand different industries, and they understand the product very well. That's definitely a competitive edge compared to other firewalls.

Once the design is done, for something simple the deployment can take half a day, whereas for a complex deployment in a data center it can take about five days.

Our implementation plan is divided into different phases. Phase One might be the physical cabling of the firewall device itself. Phase Two would be the logical setup, which means defining the interfaces and the virtual setup of the firewall itself. The final phase would be to bring it online in parallel with production, in a non-prod service, and test it to ensure it works as per the design.

What was our ROI?

A customer I'm working with right now was running with Check Point and they wanted to move to Fortinet firewalls. However, when I worked with them on the design to upgrade the existing Check Point firewalls, what we worked out was that even though the Fortinet might have seemed like a cheaper option, it didn't have the security capabilities that Check Point is offering. On that basis, the customer signed off on a project for upgrading their existing firewalls, on-premise and cloud, from R77.30 to R80.10.

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

It can be expensive, but it's value for money. What you pay for is what you get. You can go down in price and buy some cheap firewalls, but you're not going to get great support and you're not going to get the level of protection you need. With Check Point you get all of that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

With Juniper, one of the biggest downsides is support. The support portal is slow and I won't say the staff is competent in terms of understanding. They're very disconnected internally. What I mean is that the team working on the software development of the firewall has no interface with the support teams that are handling day-to-day TAC cases. They definitely struggle when it comes to understanding challenges, problems, and incidents with the firewalls.

In the past, Juniper firewalls were good, but recently the security offering has just not been there. They don't have anything like SandBlast from Check Point. They don't have up-to-date Zero-day attacks control. They're still running a very old architecture. They can do things like antivirus and URL proxy, but those are very simple features. They have none of the advanced feature set that Check Point has.

Palo Alto is very competitive with Check Point when it comes to security. However, one of the challenges with Palo Alto is that, overall, the solution can be extremely complex and expensive. That is one thing I've heard from customers again and again. Either they have existing Palo Altos or they plan to go to Palo Alto, but when they do a comparison with Check Point, what they find is that the overall value with Check Point is much greater than with Palo Alto firewalls.

What other advice do I have?

If you're looking to implement Check Point as a security solution, definitely do your homework. Do some research, not just in terms of firewalls, but overall security architecture. Which ones are the leaders in the field? Which ones are there to deliver what they promise? And overall, how does the architecture work? Is it secure or not? And does it come from a team that understands how to support the solution itself? Are they consistent? Look at their track record for the past 10 or 15 years, or are they a new player? If they are, you don't know whether they're going to stay in the game or not. A good thing about Check Point is that its core product is security. They've been doing it day in and day out. You know they're there to stay in the game. You can trust them.

Check Point is a proven solution. A lot of customers and clients already rely on it. And for the Next Generation Firewalls, they're coming up with new features as security threats become known.

If somebody wants a secure and stable environment, Check Point is definitely the leader to go to; definitely the number-one choice. It's not only what it says on the box. In reality, I've worked with hundreds of banks and they're happy with the product because it works; in practice, it works. That's the main thing.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Steve Vandegaer
Senior Engineer Security at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 5
Gives users more confidence online because the gateway is going to help them out where needed

Pros and Cons

  • "The feature I like the most is their central management, the Smart controller which you can use to manage all the firewalls from one location... Being able to access almost everything in one location — manage all your gateways and get all your logs — for me, is the best feature to work with."
  • "The biggest improvement they could make is having one software to install on all three levels of their products, so that the SMBs, the normal models, and the chassis would all run the same software. Now, while there is central management, everything that has to be configured on the gateway itself works differently on the three kinds of devices."

What is our primary use case?

For the SMB appliances, the use case is tricky because I don't actually like them too much. If you have a very small branch office, you could use one of them, but in that case I would just go for the lowest version of the full GAiA models. But for small locations that are not that important, it is possible to use one of the SMB appliances, the 1400 or 1500 series. 

The full GAiA models, starting with the 3200 and up to the chassis, are the ones we work with the most, and you can use them in almost every environment that you want to secure, from Layer 4  to Layer 7. The only reason to go higher is if they don't perform well enough, and then you go to the chassis which are for really big data centers that need to be secure.

About a year or a year-and-a-half ago, they introduced the Maestro solution, which gives you the flexibility of using the normal gateways in a way that you can extend them really easily, without switching to the chassis. You can just plug more and more gateways into the Maestro solution.

How has it helped my organization?

It's difficult to say how these firewalls have improved our clients' companies because a firewall isn't meant to improve things, it's meant to make them more secure. Nine times out of 10, it's going to give you something that the end-users aren't so happy with. But Check Point Next Generation Firewalls improve security and, indirectly, they improve the way users work. They can access practically everything on the internet without being concerned about what's going to happen. They give users more confidence when doing something, without having to worry about the consequences because the gateway is going to help them out where needed, preventing malicious stuff.

What is most valuable?

The feature I like the most is their central management, the Smart controller which you can use to manage all the firewalls from one location. You can get practically all information — but not all the information, because not everything has been migrated from the previous SmartDashboard version into the SmartConsole. Being able to access almost everything in one location — manage all your gateways and get all your logs — for me, is the best feature to work with. 

As for the security features, that depends a bit on what you're doing with it, and what your goal is. But they're all very good for application URL filtering. Threat Prevention and Threat Extraction are also great, especially the Threat Extraction. It's very nice because your end-user doesn't have to wait for the file that he's downloading to see if it's infected, if it's malware or not. It gives him a plain text version without active content, and he can start working. And if he needs the actual version, it will be available a few minutes later to download, if it isn't infected. That's a great feature. 

Anti-Bot also is also very nice because if a PC from an end-user gets infected, it stops it from communicating with its command and control, and you get notification that there is an infected computer.

It's difficult to distinguish which feature is best, because they're all good. It just depends on what your goals are. As a partner, we are implementing all of them, and which ones we prioritize depends on the client's needs and which is the best for them. For me, they're all very good.

What needs improvement?

The MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) may not be the greatest, and the full proxy that you can activate instead of just doing application control is also not the greatest, but they don't even recommend using those. They're just available if you want.

But the biggest improvement they could make is having one software to install on all three levels of their products, so that the SMBs, the normal models, and the chassis would all run the same software. Now, while there is central management, everything that has to be configured on the gateway itself works differently on the three kinds of devices. That is a bit hard because you have to update your skills on all three.

A practical example is that I have a client that I run scripts for to get information from 40-plus firewalls. That client is thinking about refreshing and there may be SMB appliances in the roll-out that don't run those scripts. That would make my job a lot harder. So the best improvement would be standard software on all their devices.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started working with Check Point firewalls in 1999, so it's been about 20 years. In the last year I have worked with all the SMB appliances, through the full GAiA and up to the 64000 series.

There's not much difference between a Check Point 3200 and a 5200 because they're running the same OS. There are just performance differences. So I can't say I've worked on every model, because I don't always check the model when I come to a client. But I've worked on every model that runs different software. I've worked with all three kinds of software that are used by Check Point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The SMBs have room for improvement in stability. They're not as stable as they could be.

The chassis are great, but they are running behind. Maybe "running behind" is an overstatement, but the roll-out of new features on them is really slow because they want them to be tested and tested and tested. The clients installing these chassis are large banks or very large customers that can't have any downtime whatsoever, so it's normal that they test them more thoroughly. 

For the mainstream models, we do run into bugs on a regular basis, but they're mostly not showstoppers. You can run into a bug, but either there's a possible work-around or it doesn't impact things so much that there are huge problems for the client.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The SMBs are not scalable. New devices come out from time to time that are more performant. The mainstream devices are also not scalable except if you go with the Maestro version, and then you can just plug in an extra firewall and it scales up. With the chassis you just plug in an extra blade and it scales up also. So the Maestro and the chassis are very scalable, but for the other models it comes down to buying new boxes if the current ones aren't sufficient anymore.

How are customer service and technical support?

Check Point support is a very difficult question because not so long ago I had a major complaint with Check Point about their support. Now, they give us much better support because we have the highest level of partnership. They recognize that the people from our team, in particular, are very skilled, so we don't go to first-level support anymore. The moment we open a ticket, we get tier-three support, and that is good.

But we haven't had this privilege for that long and, in the past, support could be a bit tricky. If we got a tier-one engineer it could be okay for support that wasn't urgent but if we were doing an implementation, especially since we had a lot of experience, they were mostly asking questions about things that we had already checked. Often, we had more knowledge than they did.

For us, it's great that we now immediately get access to tier-three. I just wrote an email to the support manager this morning about an issue we had last night, and I told him the support was great; no complaints anymore. It took a while, but now it's good. I can't complain anymore.

It depends on the partnership you have with Check Point. If you're a lower-level partner, you have to go through the steps and it takes a bit of time. If you're working in a company that has a good partnership and you can negotiate some things, then support is good and you get very good people on the line.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of these firewalls is fairly straightforward for me, but they're not the easiest ones to learn and to set up. But I've been working with Check Points for 20 years. So if you're a new user, I wouldn't say it's easy. If you have experience, it's not really that difficult. But the learning curve is higher than some of the competitors.

The time for deployment depends on the features you want to enable on the firewall and the environment you want to put it in. If it's a branch office with a small network, a DMZ and an internet connection, that would take half a day or a day. It also depends though on if it is a completely new installation where you also have to install a Management Server. On average, we count on about one day per gateway and one day for the management, but it depends on the complexity of the environment, of course.

Our implementation strategy differs per client, and it even differs by the engineer who does it because everyone has his own skills and tricks from the past that they're using. But a uniform implementation approach, especially for different clients, is very difficult to do because every firewall is a complex product. You can't do for client A what you're going to do for client B.

If it's an installation we go the standard route, with a high-level design and get it approved by the clients. Then we go for the low-level design and implementation. A standard implementation is a clustered environment with a separate Management Server. We almost never deploy one gateway, so one cluster with a separate Management Server is the most basic level. We usually set up the management on a virtual system, not an appliance, and we try to go for appliances for the gateways, depending a bit on the customer's needs; it could be virtual.

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

Make sure you get the correct license. For instance, I did an audit for one of our clients recently and I saw that they always were buying the most expensive license and not using the features that were included in it. That's one thing to look at: If you're not going to use some features, don't buy the license related to those and go for a cheaper license. 

Also, negotiate. There's always room for discounts.

You get licensing bundles, so depending on which features you want to activate, your license is going to be more expensive. Some things, like Threat Extraction and Threat Emulation, require subscriptions. They don't come with a standard firewall. 

I'm not a licensing expert, but as far as I know there's the standard firewall, the Next Generation Firewall, and then the Next Generation Threat Prevention license. The price goes up in those bundles.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Another vendor I work with and have the most knowledge about, when compared to Check Point, is Palo Alto. They force you to work a bit more with applications instead of ports, although that's not something Check Point cannot do. 

The central management is different for Palo Alto. You can install it, but it doesn't work the way it works with Check Point. I like both. I like that with the Palo Alto you just go to a web browser and can configure the firewall all the way, but it's also easy to have the SmartConsole from Check Point where you can manage multiple devices. Palo Alto doesn't really have that. They have a central manager where you can get logs and where you can distribute some policies, but it doesn't work the way Check Point's central management does.

Both have their pros and cons. It depends on how you like to work. I like working with both of them. It's a bit different, but in terms of security and features, I don't think they're that different. It's just another way of working.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you have a good partner doing Check Point work for you because, as a direct client, it's very hard to get the necessary skills in-house, unless you're a very big company. Contact Check Point and ask them which partner they recommend and go that route. Don't try to do it yourself. The firewall is too complex to set up and maintain yourself, without the assistance of people who do it every day.

Learn and get experience with it. Don't be overwhelmed. When you start with it all the features and all the tips and tricks that you need to know to maintain it, it can be overwhelming. Like I said, the learning curve is very steep, and when you start with it, it's going to look like, "Whoa, this is impossible." But stick with it and when you get some experience it's going to be okay. It's a difficult product, but once you get the hang of it, it's one that's really nice to work with. We still run into issues from time to time, but Check Point products are very manageable and fun to work with. Check Point is my favorite vendor. I like working with it a lot.

I would rate Check Point's mainstream solutions at eight or nine out of 10, and the same for the chassis. I would rate the SMBs around a six. I don't really like those too much. Overall, Check Point is an eight, because most people are going for the mainstream solutions and those are very good.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Learn what your peers think about Check Point NGFW. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
541,462 professionals have used our research since 2012.
BF
Senior IT Manager at a mining and metals company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Offers a lot of flexibility and packet inspections have been a strong point

Pros and Cons

  • "The packet inspections have been a strong point. Our identity collectors have also been helpful. In many ways, Check Point has been a step up from our SonicWalls that we had in-house before that. There's a lot of additional flexibility that we didn't have before."
  • "The VPN setup could be simplified. We had to engage professional services for that. That's not a problem, but compared to other products we've used, it was a little more complex."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use cases for Check Point NGFW are for perimeter security and content filtering for browsing behavior.

How has it helped my organization?

We have a lot of flexibility now and a leg up identifying zero day threats. We have multiple ways of doing policies now that we didn't have before. The options are more robust over previous products and I would say that we're pleased with the product. The reports I'm getting are that we're satisfied, even impressed, with the options Check Point offers.

What is most valuable?

Packet inspections have been a strong point. Our Identity Collectors have also been helpful. In many ways, Check Point has been a step up from our SonicWalls that we had in-house before that. There's a lot of additional flexibility that we didn't have before.

We saw a noticeable performance hit using SonicWalls. Whether it's because we've provisioned the Check Point gateways correctly from a hardware standpoint or whether it's the software that is much more efficient (or both), we do packet inspection with very little impact to hardware resources and throughput speeds are much improved.

With SonicWall, after it would calculate inspection overhead, we might see throughput at, and often below, 15%. My network administrator gave me data showing Check Point hovering at 50%, and so we were actually seeing Check Point fulfill its claims better than SonicWall.

What needs improvement?

Because there's quite a bit of flexibility in Check Point, improved best practices would be helpful. There might be six ways to do something and we're looking for one recommended way, one best practice, or maybe even a couple of best practices. A lot of times we're trying to figure out what we should do and how we should handle a particular problem or scenario. Having a better roadmap would help us as we navigate the options.

The VPN setup could be simplified. We had to engage professional services for that. That's not a problem, but compared to other products we've used, it was a little more complex.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started putting Check Point NGFW into production late first quarter this year, right before the pandemic hit. We put in two gateways and one management server.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is there especially compared to previous security products. Certain things had quirky behaviors. For instance, once we upgraded to 80.40, a couple items inexplicably acted up (not uncommon for any software upgrade). Certain policies would drop and then show up again (remained in force, just briefly disappeared from management console). I would have to get some specifics from my network administrator, but I do recall some strange behaviors. One of them was fixed by a patch and another one still has a backup issue that's pending right now about how to best back up the device before we upgrade.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't had to test scalability yet because we purchased it for our existing needs and as a company, our performance and our needs are pretty flat. We don't really have need to scale yet.

We are adequately equipped for what we need and we have room to grow and to add all of our users and possibly add additional products down the road and still have plenty of room to do so on how these gateways are powered.

We have a total of about 620 employees that use Check Point NGFW. I would say we are 80% there. There are still some users that have to be migrated to it once we test their accounts, their kiosks, that kind of stuff. 

There is one primary employee who is dedicated to maintenance and there are another two who back him up but our network administrator is primarily responsible.

How are customer service and technical support?

Mixed experience, mostly satisfactory. Some support engineers are quite helpful and efficient, others required more patience working through support incidents. ATAM support has been high quality, and as previously mentioned, local support has been key to resolving some cases much more quickly. If we were giving their support a letter grade, it would be in the B range.

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

We were previously using SonicWall. We switched because we were struggling with performance, support, and strategy. There were things that were broken that did not have coherent or reliable fixes. At the time we did not consider it to be next-generation technology. There were problems with GeoIP enforcement. There were also quite a few performance problems, especially with inspecting traffic. It would literally bring the device to its knees once we turned on all the inspections that we really felt that we needed. It was under-provisioned, under-specced, and coupled with all the support problems we had, we started shopping for a new solution.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was both straightforward and complex. There were some complexities in there that required us to get help. We have some local representatives that are very helpful and so we frequently contacted them for guidance.

We're still migrating people behind Check Point, especially in our main facility, but the heavy lifting was done by early summer. It took around three to four months.

Our strategy was to set it up in parallel with the existing firewalls and begin setting up policies and testing the policies against individual services in-house. Then, as we were successful, we would grab pilot users and migrate them to Check Point and have them start trying to break things or browse to certain sites and see what behaviors they were getting.

It was a slow migration with a handful of people at first. We tweaked their experiences and just kept adding people. It was gradual. We tested, fixed, and then migrated a few more incrementally.

What about the implementation team?

We had two different ways of getting help. We have local representatives who are in the same metropolitan area and they were very responsive. Then when we would have to contact standard support. We were satisfied about 80% of the time. Sometimes follow-up was not there. Sometimes there would be delays and occasionally there would be rehashing of information that didn't seem like it was efficient. Eventually, we would get the answers we would need.

That's why we rely heavily on the local people because they could sometimes light a fire and get things moving a little bit quicker.

What was our ROI?

Primarily it's offered stability and caught behaviors and given users (and administrators) a level of confidence as they are doing their daily jobs. The inspection that Check Point does, even when we download a document or a PDF, offers a bit more peace of mind in those types of transactions. GeoIP is working like we had hoped compared to SonicWall.

We have a lot of granularity in our policies. We can accommodate some really interesting scenarios on our operations floors, certain groups needing certain types of access versus other groups. We're accommodating them fairly seamlessly from migrating from SonicWall to Check Point. We might have struggled to try to make stuff happen in SonicWall, and Check Point just seems to ingest it and run with it. Having access to Check Point's AI ThreatCloud cloud has given us a lot of peace of mind. ThreatCloud is 25+ years worth of exploit research that informs and feeds CP technologies and gateways.

Another feature that's been helpful is the sandbox feature. A lot of companies offer this type of thing now, but CP has been offering it for quite a while. If end users are browsing websites, and they download a payload-infected document from a website, SandBlast will detect it and take it offline. It will sandbox it, detonate it there safely, pull out the content that we're actually looking for, then re-present that cleaned content back to the user.

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

Strongly consider augmenting standard support with Check Point's premium option or by purchasing ATAM/professional services time blocks, especially during deployment.

Standard support is decent, though occasionally frustrating from a turnaround perspective. While we sometimes wait a while for resolution on some cases, the information we receive is usually quality; that's been our experience.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Palo Alto, Fortinet, and Sophos. I brought some of that experience to bear on our decision but our shortlist was Palo Alto, Fortinet, and Check Point.

The reason I selected Check Point was partly its pedigree, knowing that Palo Alto formed out of Check Point. Both companies are built from the same DNA and each has a history and a culture I respect and trust. Check Point Research is regularly in the news it seems for finding exploits and vulnerabilities in popular cloud platforms. 

Check Point offered quality local support, including our technical sales representative and a support manager that live in the area. A couple of executives also live in the area. If we needed to escalate, we had the people here locally that could help us with that.

My former company used Palo Alto and, while I didn't interface with the products on a regular basis (we relied on the network team for analysis), I'd overhear frustrations with support. Palo Alto is also a great product and it wasn't an easy decision choosing between CP and PA from a technical perspective. I had never used Check Point prior to this position, but it outpaced its competitors in a few key areas, especially the pre-sales phase, POC engagements, local support options, and the maturity of Check Point's ThreatCloud technology.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to look hard at premium support options. Know what your tolerances are, and if you expect fairly quick turnaround on support incidents, go ahead and invest that money in support. Definitely take advantages of pro services, buy a block of hours, whether that's 10 hours or 20 hours, and use that to fill in the knowledge gaps, especially during deployment. If you rely on standard support during setup, depending on how complex your environment is, you may be frustrated.

We did well doing what I recommended here. We bought two rounds of pro services (20 hours). I don't want to pile on standard support - it's not bad - it's just that if we were to rely only on standard support, I think our migration would have taken longer, and there might have been more frustrations. Because we had local support and because we bought pro services, it accelerated our timeline and it got us into production much quicker.

From what I've seen and heard from my staff, I would rate Check Point NGFW technology a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
AU
Network and Security Specialist at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5
Very cost-effective solution that helps companies get through audits

Pros and Cons

  • "I love the interface of R.80.30. The R.80 interface is very nicely thought out with everything in one place, which makes Check Point easier to use."
  • "The naming in the inline layers and ordered layers needs improvement. It makes things very complicated. I've seen quite a lot of people saying that. For audit policies, it is okay since it's very simple to see. However, this area is for very large organizations, which have too many policies, and they need to share all these policies. For small to medium-sized businesses, they don't need it. Even if somebody has 500 rules, if they try to use it, it can be very confusing."

What is our primary use case?

In my previous company, one of the clients was a big chocolate company. They had this payment card infrastructure (PCI), where they needed to have auditors from PCI check the firewalls to see if everything was okay. So, they had web-based authentication. 

I'm working with the 5800, 5600, and 5200 models. I work with the UTMs as well. These are physical appliances as well as open servers.

How has it helped my organization?

It helped clients get through big audits for PCI, which has been very cost-effective for them. In one hour, they make 30,000 to 40,000 pounds worth of sales. A PCI audit has actually threatened them, "If you don't do it by this date, you will have to stop taking payments." Even if the audit is delayed about an one hour or so, they'll have thousands of pounds worth of losses. The previous company may have spent a lot of money on Check Point, but they save a lot as well. So, they were quite happy with that. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is definitely the logs. The way you can search the logs and have the granularity from the filter. It's just very nice. 

I love the interface of R.80.30. The R.80 interface is very nicely thought out with everything in one place, which makes Check Point easier to use. When I started in 2014, I was just confused with how many interfaces I had to go on to find things. While there are quite a few interfaces still in the older smart dashboard versions, most things are consolidated now.

What needs improvement?

The naming in the inline layers and ordered layers needs improvement. It makes things very complicated. I've seen quite a lot of people saying that. For audit policies, it is okay since it's very simple to see. However, this area is for very large organizations, which have too many policies, and they need to share all these policies. For small to medium-sized businesses, they don't need it. Even if somebody has 500 rules, if they try to use it, it can be very confusing.

In R77.30, the only thing which I hated was having to go into each day's log file and search for that day. However, in R.80, we have a unified platform, so you can just filter out with the date, then it will give you the log for that date and time. 

I would like Check Point to have certification similar to what Cisco offers. Check Point's certification doesn't cover a lot of things. For example, Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE) should be actually included with the Check Point Security Administration (CCSA), as a lot of people just go for the CCSA and get stuck when it comes to a lot of things on Check Point. 

Biggest lesson learnt: Never assume. We had issues when we enabled DHCP server on one of the firewalls. We tried to exclude some IP addresses so the rest would be allocated, but that didn't work. We had to start from the beginning to include the rest of the IP addresses.

For how long have I used the solution?

Six to seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. 

The headache with these firewalls is when they failover. The client will ask us why. We have a separate service desk and Tier 2 guys who monitor these firewalls. But, in these cases, they can't tell why, because you have to deep dive. The reason was unclear on R77.30, so I had to find it in the logs. However, in R.80, it's quite clear. We will just use a cphaprob stat to tell us the failover reason for the last time. 

Sometimes, it is very difficult to find something in Check Point Firewalls when you are stuck. Therefore, you need to know exactly what you are doing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

They do scale well as long as a company is not scaling rapidly. This is the reason we have a CPSizeMe tool. With normal growth, they will easily go for five to 10 years. Normal growth means setting up a few offices, not doing big mergers.

We have about four to five Check Point users out of 20 network engineers.

In my new job, we have 80 clients in user center.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the support as a three out of 10. It seems like they are all Tier 2 guys. If there is a problem, you search everything and read all the articles, then you contact their support center who forward you to the same articles. It is very difficult to work with their support guys, unless you work with the guys in Israel.

From my last job, I had a web UI issue on one of my firewalls. It's been a year now, and it's not been resolved. Although it's been to the Israel as well, It's still been delayed. We couldn't live with the issue, so we decided we would buy a new open server, as the previous open server was quite old, then we did a fresh install of R.30 on it.

if you buy the appliances or licenses through partners, they will try to resolve your issue or talk in a way that makes sense.

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

My previous company used to have Junipers that used to send all the credentials via HTTP. Because all Juniper SRXs didn't do that, since they were quite old (version 570), they had to buy new firewalls. I tried to do it, but I couldn't do it on the Junipers, especially since they were out of support and nobody would help me from Juniper.

I told my previous company, "Check Point would be the best solution for them. In the long run, while you might have a lot of issues with auditors, we will actually be able to combat this using Check Point firewalls if you get the proper licensing." Then, we did web bots on Check Points. 

About five years later, an auditor said that we needed to do a RADIUS Authentication, not a clear text password nor the Check Point local password. So, we implemented that as well. This was a bit tricky because they didn't want the local guys to have RADIUS Authentication, but anybody coming from the outside would have to go through RADIUS. This was a bit tricky with Check Point because I had to involve Check Point support in the process as well, but we were able to do it. This was one of the client use cases.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. I told one of my colleagues in my last job, "Just follow the prompts and you should be able to install it. It is a very simple, basic thing. Just do it as a gateway, then that's it. You are done". 

Before, on R77.30, there were cluster IDs and people needed to know what they were doing. In the R80 cluster, the cluster ID is gone, so it is very straightforward and you don't have to be an expert to install it.

A new installation on the VMs (about a week ago) took me around 20 minutes or less. This was a lot faster than I imagined, and I've created quite a lot of resources to their management and Gateway as well.

What was our ROI?

If the firewalls go down, then the employees' car payments would stop. This would be a disaster. 

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

There are three types of licensing: Threat Prevention, NGTP, and Next Generation Threat Extraction. Before, it used to be you would just enable the license of whatever blade you wanted to buy. Nowadays, Threat Prevention would be sufficient for most clients, so I would think people would go for the NGTP, license which includes all the blades.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

All sorts of councils in London use the solution. In my new job, there are quite a lot of councils and schools as well. They need to know the web traffic from their users, e.g., what they are searching and looking for and where they are going. Therefore, its application and URL filtering comes in quite handy. I've seen the application and URL filtering on Palo Alto, and it is a pain to get those details from it and create a report for users. Whereas, the user report is very easy to get with Check Point.

I have not seen another firewall offer the same level of logs that Check Point offers. I have worked on ASA and Juniper SRX. While they are a bit similar, they are not exactly what Check Point has to offer.

What other advice do I have?

This is not day-to-day firewall work, where maybe a node can do it. If you get into a trouble, you can't actually involve Check Point support all the time, especially when you won't get a response. You need to employ people who are certified. Check Point has a lot to sink in, and it's not an easy thing. You might just expose your environment, even after spending a lot of money.

It is future-proof. I would rate this solution as a nine out of 10.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Ifeanyi Onyiaodike
Network security engineer at Fidelity Bank
Real User
Top 5
Enabled us to virtualize multiple firewalls on one machine

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature for us is the VSX, the virtualization."
  • "The VPN part was actually one of the most complex parts for us. It was not easy for us to switch from Cisco, because of one particular part of the integration: connecting the Check Point device to an Entrust server. Entrust is a solution that provides two-factor authentication. We got around it by using another server, a solution called RADIUS."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for VSX virtualization and we use it for normal firewall functions as well as NAT. And we use it for VPN. We don't use a mobile client, we just use the VPN for mobile users.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to virtualize about four firewalls on one machine. Before, we needed to have four firewall hardware devices, physical devices, from Cisco. We had four appliances, but now, with Check Point, we just have one. We can manage them, we can integrate them, and we can increase connections using one and the other. It has broken down connection complexities into just a GUI.

Also, previously we had downtime due to memory saturation with our old firewalls. We were using Cisco ASA before. During peak periods, CPU utilization was high. Immediately, when we switched to Check Point, that was the first thing we started monitoring. What is the CPU utilization on the device? We observed that CPU utilization stayed around 30 percent, as compared to 70 percent with the Cisco we had before, although it was an old-generation Cisco. Now, at worst, CPU utilization goes to 35 percent. That gives us confidence in the device. 

In addition, the way Check Point built their solution, there is a Management Server that you do your administration on. You have the main security gateway, so it's like they broke them down into two devices. Previously, on the Cisco, everything was in one box: both the management and the gateway were in one box. With Check Point breaking it into two boxes, if there's a failure point, you know it's either in the management or the security gateway. The management is segmented from the main security gateway. If the security gateway is not functioning properly, we know that we have to isolate the security gateway and find out what the problem is. Or if the management is not coming up or is not sending the rules to the security gateway, we know there's something wrong with it so we isolate it and treat it differently. Just that ability to break them down into different parts, isolating them and isolating problems, is a really nice concept.

And with the security gateway there are two devices, so there's also a failover.

What is most valuable?

  • The most valuable feature for us is the VSX, the virtualization.
  • The GUI is also better than what we had previously.
  • The third feature is basic IP rules, which are more straightforward.
  • And let's not forget the VPN.

The way we use the VPN is usually for partners to connect with. We want a secure connection between our bank and other enterprises so we use the VPN for them. Also, when we want to secure a connection to our staff workstations, when employees want to work from home, we use a VPN. That has been a very crucial feature because of COVID-19. A lot of our people needed to work remotely.

What needs improvement?

The VPN part was actually one of the most complex parts for us. It was not easy for us to switch from Cisco, because of one particular part of the integration: connecting the Check Point device to an Entrust server. Entrust is a solution that provides two-factor authentication. We got around it by using another server, a solution called RADIUS.

It was very difficult to integrate the VPN. Until now, we still don't know why it didn't work. With our previous environment, Cisco, it worked seamlessly. We could connect an Active Directory server to a two-factor authentication server, and that to the firewall. But when we came onboard with Check Point, the point-of-sale said it's possible for you to use what you have on your old infrastructure. We tried with the same configurations, and we even invited the vendor that provided the stuff for us, but we were not able to go about it. At the end of day they had to use a different two-FA solution. I don't if Check Point has a limitation in connecting with other two-FAs. Maybe it only connects with Microsoft two-FA or Google two-FA or some proprietary two-FA. They could work on this issue to make it easier.

Apart from that, we are coming from something that was not so good to something that is much better.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the Check Point Next Generation Firewall for 10 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of Check Point's firewall, for what we use it for now, is pretty good. Especially, with the licensing of blades and the way they script it down into different managers. You have a part that manages blades, you have the part that manages NAT, and you have the part that manages identity. The VSX is another one on its own. So it is very stable for us.

When we add more load to it, when we go full-blown with what we want to use the device for, that will be a really good test of strength for the device. But for now the stability is top-notch.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

They scale well.

All information passes through the firewall. We have about 8,000-plus users, including communicating with third-party or the networks of other enterprises that we do business with.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've not used technical support. We asked our questions of the vendor that deployed and he was quite free and open in providing solutions. Anytime we call him we can ask. He was like our own local support.

There is also a Check Point community, although we've not really been active there, but you can go and ask questions there too, apart from support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward.

It took a while about a month, but it was not because of the complexity. It was because we gave them what we already have on the ground. We were on Cisco before and they had to come up with a replica of the configurations for Check Point. When they got back to us we had to make some corrections, and there was some back-and-forth before everything finally stabilized.

Four our day-to-day administrative work, we have about four people involved.

What about the implementation team?

We used a Check Point partner for the installation. I was involved in the deployment, meaning that while they were deploying I was there. They even took us through some training.

What was our ROI?

We have surely seen ROI compared to the other vendors I mentioned, in terms of costs. And we tested all the firewall features to see if it is doing what it says can do. And so far so good, it's excellent. It's a good return.

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

Check Point offers good solutions, but it won't kill your budget.

Going into Next-Generation firewalls, you should know what the different blades are for, and when you want to buy a solution, know what you want to use that solution for. If it's for your normal IP rule set, for identity awareness, content awareness, for VPN, or for NAT, know the blades you want. Every solution or every feature of the firewall has license blades. If you want to activate a feature to see how that feature handles the kind of work you give, and it handles it pretty well, you can then move to other features.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Palo Alto, Fortinet FortiGate, and Cisco FirePOWER.

Check Point was new to the market so we had to ask questions among other users. "How is this solution? Is it fine?" We got some top users, some top enterprises, that said, "Yes, we've been using it for a while and it's not bad. It's actually great." So we said, "Okay, let's go ahead."

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend going into Check Point solutions. Although Check Point has the option of implementing your firewall on a server, I would advise implementing it on a perimeter device because servers have latency. So deploy it on a dedicated device. Carry out a survey to find out if the device can handle the kind of workload you need to put through it.

Also, make it a redundant solution, apart from the Management Server, which can be just one device. Although I should note that up until now, we have not had anything like that.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
AnkurSingh
Technical Support Engineer at AlgoSec
Real User
Top 5
The Anti-Spoofing feature won't allow any spoofed IP addresses coming from an external interface

Pros and Cons

  • "The Anti-Spoofing has the ability to monitor the interfaces. Suppose any spoofed IP addresses are coming from an external interface, it won't allow them. It will drop that traffic. You have two options with the Anti-Spoofing: prevent or detect. If any kind of spoof traffic is coming through the external interface, we can prevent that."
  • "For the user or anyone else who is using Check Point, they are more into the GUI stuff. Check Point has its SmartConsole. On the console, you have to log into the MDS or CMS. Then, from there, you have to go onto that particular firewall and put in the changes. If the management console could be integrated onto the GUI itself, that would be one thing that I would recommend."

What is our primary use case?

I had 3200 appliances deployed in my company where we had two CMSs. We had multiple VSXs on those appliances due to the main firewall that we had on the VLAN. We also had an external firewall on the VLAN, which were used to monitor and allow the traffic within the network. That is how we were using it.

They have a new R81 in place. Currently, they also have R75 deployed in the environment, but they are planning to upgrade to R80.20 because that particular firewall has very high CPU utilization and there is no more support for R75. 

What is most valuable?

I like that it first checks the SAM database. If there is any suspicious traffic, then you can block that critical traffic in the SAM database instead of creating a rule on the firewall, then pushing that out, which takes time. 

The Anti-Spoofing has the ability to monitor the interfaces. Suppose any spoofed IP addresses are coming from an external interface, it won't allow them. It will drop that traffic. You have two options with the Anti-Spoofing: prevent or detect. If any kind of spoof traffic is coming through the external interface, we can prevent that. 

I like the Check Point SandBlast, which is also the new technology that I like, because it mitigates the zero-day attacks. I haven't worked on SandBlast, but I did have a chance to do the certification two years back, so I have sound knowledge on SandBlast. We can deploy it as a SandBlast appliance or use it along with the Check Point Firewall to forward the traffic to the SandBlast Cloud.

What needs improvement?

Working on Check Point for me looks simple. For the user or anyone else who is using Check Point, they are more into the GUI stuff. Check Point has its SmartConsole. On the console, you have to log into the MDS or CMS. Then, from there, you have to go onto that particular firewall and put in the changes. If the management console could be integrated onto the GUI itself, that would be one thing that I would recommend.

The ability for the multiple administrators to not do changes was fixed in R80.

For how long have I used the solution?

I just changed companies six months back. I have been using Check Point for around two and a half years. I was working on the Check Point technologies in my previous company. I did the implementation of Check Point and was also monitoring the Check Point Firewall in my last company during firewall upgrades.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had two Check Point Firewalls deploy in the HA. There was one particular change that we did regarding the FQDN objects. However, after deploying this new change, which already had multiple FQDN objects, the behavior of the firewall was changed in terms of the live traffic. Because after deploying the critical chain, the users were facing intermittent Skype and Office 365 issues. We checked the performance of the Check Point, which also decreased due to the FQDN objects that were pushed onto the firewall. Therefore, we had to reverse back the change in order to increase the performance, because it was utilizing 80 or 90 percent of it. Once we reversed that particular change, then it was working fine.

These firewalls are stable. The customer is looking forward to upgrading to the latest version of Check Point.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable.

The entire company network resides behind these particular firewalls. All of the users, if they wanted to go out onto the Internet, have to go through this firewall.

There are around five to eight people who worked for my team. We monitored the firewall. In case of issues, we would then go a call with the customer and troubleshoot that issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes, I faced issues while troubleshooting. In those cases, I did have to contact Check Point's technical support because some of those issues were complex. 

I would give the technical support a four out of five. They would get on the call and try to resolve that issue as soon as possible. 

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

Initially, I was working on the Cisco ASA Firewall, then I got an opportunity to work on the Check Point Firewall. The main difference is regarding the architecture. Check Point has three-tier architecture, whereas ASA doesn't have that architecture so you have to deploy every rule on the firewall manually. With Check Point, you have a management server and you can have that policy package pushed onto the other firewall, which is one of the key features of Check Point: You don't have to deploy every tool on the firewall manually. We can just push that particular policy package onto the new firewall based on global rules that we have Check Point. 

Every time, I had to deploy all of the rules and basic connectivity, SSH and SNMP management, on the ASA Firewall. Whereas, in Check Point, I can just go onto the global rules and put that policy onto the Check Point Firewall, then it will have all those global rules required in the company.

Check Point also has the Identity Awareness feature, which is using a captive portal. This is something good which I like. 

How was the initial setup?

It was pretty easy and straightforward for me to deploy these firewalls.

It took around the 15 days to do the initial deployment and get the basic connectivity to the Check Point Firewalls. We had to send a field engineer to do the cabling and everything, like the data connectivity. It takes time to do all the network, cabling, etc. Once the basic connectivity is established, then we can move ahead with the implementation of the rules on the firewall. The company had an initial set of rules to follow for the setup.

What about the implementation team?

We initially opened a case regarding the upgrade. Check Point's technical support was there on the call because the upgrade was going from version R77 to R81.10. This was a major update for the entire network, and they were there supporting us in case of any issues.

What was our ROI?

The customer feels more secure because they have two layers of security and comfortable working with this particular Check Point Firewall because they previously used Check Point R75. 

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

Pricing is fine. 

We had to get separate licenses for the different blades. It would be nice to have a feature where we can get the multiple licenses all-in-one instead. 

The licensing feature is good for the Check Point. It attaches to the management IP address of the central management server. So, you can remove that particular IP and then use that license on another device on some other firewall, if you want.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Compared to the Cisco ASA Firewall, the Check Point Firewall makes your work easier because you're not deploying the firewall, then pushing the policy, which takes time. Initially, when I was working with the ASA Firewall, we used to implement the firewall, then we used to hand it over to operations for the maintenance. So, I had to manually implement all of these rules, etc. 

When I learned about Check Point and had basic training for it, I got to know the architecture was different for the Check Point Firewall. You can just have a policy package and deploy that policy package on any of the firewalls that you want. It already has that particular set of rules, which makes your life easier while implementing the rules on the firewall, e.g., if there are multiple firewalls on the network that should have the same policy.

What other advice do I have?

Anyone who is new to Check Point Firewalls should have the basic understanding and training so it becomes easy to deploy and implement. You can go onto YouTube and find various training videos regarding Check Point, where you can get a basic understanding of the Check Point Firewall.

I would rate this solution as an eight out of 10.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
ITCS user
Network Security Engineer/Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
SmartLog gives our team a very intuitive way of searching logs and seeing events

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the security blades and the ease of managing the policies, searching log for events, and correlating them."
  • "Debugging is very complex when compared to Fortinet, for example. That's the worst thing about Check Point. The deployment of the solution is harder than it is with the competitors. But after you've deployed it, the operation is easy."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use is to segregate the environment internally to create a lab environment and a production environment, for example. We also use them to protect the company from the internet and when going to the internet; to protect the perimeter of the company. We use them to create a VPN with customers and clients, and with the other companies that belong to the group.

We work with 1200s, 1500s, 4000s, and 5000s.

How has it helped my organization?

With this firewall on the perimeter, we detect a lot of attacks with the IPS and the antivirus blades. With the SmartLog for our team that operates the solution, we have a very intuitive way of searching the logs and seeing events, when compared to other vendors that we also have. This is the biggest advantage of the Check Point compared to competitors.

We have a lot of Check Point firewalls and a lot of Fortinet firewalls. The biggest advantage of the Check Point for us is that daily operations are much easier. That includes working with policies, checking and searching logs, dragging objects on the policies and searching where objects are used. All of that is easier in the SmartConsole than doing it on a browser, as the competitors do.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the

  • security blades 
  • ease of managing the policies, searching log for events, and correlating them.

What needs improvement?

Upgrades and debugging of the operating system, as well as the backups and restores of configuration, need improvement. 

Debugging is very complex when compared to Fortinet, for example. That's the worst thing about Check Point. The deployment of the solution is harder than it is with the competitors. But after you've deployed it, the operation is easy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Check Point firewalls for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

They are very stable. We usually deploy them in clusters, in front of the node. We always have the other one functioning and we have never had an occasion in which one failed and the other also failed. We also have support for the hardware. But regarding their functioning, we are very satisfied. We have never had a big outage because the two members of a cluster went down. They are very good in terms of stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have some firewalls with the VSX functionality which allows us to add more virtual firewalls to the same physical cluster. That allows for scalability. But when compared to Fortinet, the way to have more than one virtual firewall on the same cluster is much harder.

It's very scalable if we have the VSX license for Check Point, which we have in some places. But it's much more complex than adding to the FortiGate. So it's scalable, but it's not easy to work with VSX, especially compared to the competitor.

Our usage should be increasing weekly because our company is buying other companies constantly and we need to deploy firewalls on the companies we buy. It shouldn't increase a lot, though, just a bit.

We have about 1,000 users crossing the firewalls and 10 network admins.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good in general, but it's better if you call and you are answered by the headquarters back in Israel. We notice a difference if we call at different times and we go through Canada or some other country. It's not bad, but we notice a bit of a difference in the way they handle the tickets and the knowledge they have.

We usually try to open tickets when we know that the office in Israel is open and they are taking the tickets. But there are some times that we can't do that. The others are not bad, but for some stuff we need quicker support and we feel we are being handled better on the Israeli side.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex and when you have issues, it's more complex. 

To create a cluster or to add a new firewall to the Manager, or when, for example, you want to add a license for IPS or for antivirus, there are often problems with that because it doesn't recognize the license. We end up having to call support. With Fortinet, that kind of initial setup of the firewall is always straightforward.

Now that we have a lot of experience it takes us two days, at the most, to deploy a Check Point firewall, if we don't run into problems with the license.

We are not at the data center, so we need to ask the data center guys to mount the firewall where we need it and to patch it. Then we access it via a console cable, remotely. We have equipment that allows us to do that. We do the initial config via the GUI, and then we add the firewall to the Manager and we start deploying the policies.

What about the implementation team?

We implement the firewalls ourselves.

What was our ROI?

The return on our investment with Check Point firewalls is that we are secure and that we haven't had any attacks that have had a big impact or that were successful. If we had been paying a lot and were being targeted to the same extent, I would say no, that we have not had a return on investment, but at this stage it's a "yes."

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

In the past, when Fortinet was a young company, the price point of Fortinet was very low compared to Check Point. But at this stage, our experience is that the pricing is almost the same. The pricing of Check Point is fair when compared to others.

The only additional cost we have with Check Point is when we need to do a big migration. Sometimes we need a third-party company, but this is not usual. It's only for big migrations that we sometimes have support from an external company. The last time we needed something like that was two years ago.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Half of our environment is with Check Point and the other half is with Fortinet. We don't have a strategy of giving everything to one vendor; we like to have both.

What other advice do I have?

If the person implementing it doesn't have much experience in how the solution works, with the Manager and connecting the firewall to it, and using the SmartConsole, they should try to go through the CCSA materials for Check Point certification. Check Point is easy to work with on a daily basis. Sometimes we get new people working here and they can add rules straight away on the policies and push policies. But if they need to deploy a firewall and they are not used to Check Point and how it works and the components, it's not that straightforward. With competitors like Fortinet, you just have to access the HTTPS of the FortiGate and it's like configuring a router, which is much easier. With Check Point, you need to read some manuals before you start deploying the firewall.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using Check Point firewalls is that if you lose the Manager you lose the ability to manage the firewall policies, which is, in my opinion, the biggest difference when compared to other vendors. Because, for example, if the Manager stops working and the server where you have the Manager gets stuck, you have no way of managing the policies directly on the firewall.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Matt Millen
Network & Systems Administrator I at DMH
Real User
Top 5
Simple to navigate, making it easy to identify and fix issues and minimize downtime

Pros and Cons

  • "The simplicity of the access control is the most valuable feature for us. It gives us the ability to easily identify traffic that is either being allowed or denied to our network."
  • "I would like there to be a way to run packet captures more easily in the GUI environment. Right now, if we want to read packet captures, we have to do so from the command line."

What is our primary use case?

We use several of the blades. We use it for regular access control, but we also use the application control. We use HTTPS inspection and threat prevention. We use the Mobile Access blades as well IPS.

We have a Smart-1 205 as our management server and for the gateway we've got 3200s.

How has it helped my organization?

Over time, we've enabled different blades on the firewall. We started off with the access control policy, and since then we enabled the HTTPS inspection and the IPS blade. That's helped reduce our risk landscape as a whole.

What is most valuable?

The simplicity of the access control is the most valuable feature for us. It gives us the ability to easily identify traffic that is either being allowed or denied to our network. The ease of use is important to us. The more difficult something is to use, the more likely it is that you'll experience some type of service failure. When we do have issues, with the Check Point SmartConsole being as simple as it is to navigate, it makes it easy for us to identify problems and fix them, to minimize our downtime.

What needs improvement?

I would like there to be a way to run packet captures more easily in the GUI environment. Right now, if we want to read packet captures, we have to do so from the command line.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Check Point's NGFWs for as long as I've been with the Department of Mental Health, so it's three years that I've personally been using them.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Based on other networking hardware that I've used, I would say the Check Point NGFWs are just as stable, if not more so. We rarely have any issues. In the past, I've experienced networking hardware often needing to be rebooted. That's not something that happens with these devices. They're on 24/7 and we have next to no downtime. I can't think of a time in my three years here that one of the devices has gone down and caused us any downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've already purchased a new management server from Check Point, and it will be replacing our 205 appliance. They make it easy. These devices inter-operate together, so if we need more resources, for example, on the management end, we're able to buy that server and replace our old one and scale up as needed.

As far as users are concerned, we have 70 locations throughout the State of South Carolina with a total of 400 to 500 devices that can be connected at any point in time.

I would think we have plans to increase our usage. We work in tele-psychiatry, for the State of South Carolina, and telemedicine right now is a hot topic. I see it very likely that our usage could double and triple in the coming years.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've had an issue with licenses not populating to a new device, but that is the only thing we've ever called them for in relation to replacing or adding in a new device.

They're very helpful. They're easy to get in touch with. It's not like you're sitting there on hold for hours at a time, and they're quick to get back to you. It might be that they're taking packet captures and analyzing them and then getting back to you. It's a quick turnaround. I can't think of any time we've ever had to wait more than 24 hours to get an answer on an issue we've had.

How was the initial setup?

I have set up replacements and it's very straightforward. It's very easy. It's much easier than some of the other network equipment that I've had to deal with. Check Point provides a wizard that walks you through the process and that streamlines the entire process. They also provide instructions on how to go about getting to the wizard and the process that we needed to take to complete that configuration. It was relatively painless.

The replacement was configured in one day and deployed the next, with no issues.

There are five of us in our company who have management access. I'm the network administrator, and I've got four IT technicians who work under me and assist in the firewall configuration and deployment.

What about the implementation team?

I don't believe we've ever had to actually call Check Point to assist with anything. It's pretty straightforward. The wizard does most of the work and we have all the instructions we need. It's pretty much all done in-house.

What was our ROI?

I definitely feel it's been worth our investment. Check Point is there to help when we need them. Our downtime has been very minimal, and when we do have issues, they're there to help us. They're there to get us back up and running as quickly as possible. It's definitely been worth its weight.

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

One of the main reasons that we went with Check Point is that they provide a good solution for a firewall but at an affordable price. As a state agency, we can't afford Cisco Firepower. It's just out of our budget to be able to pay for something where licensing and hardware are so expensive. Check Point has really met our needs for a budget-friendly solution.

We pay a yearly support fee in addition to the standard licensing fees with Check Point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've worked with Cisco routers and firewalls. I've worked with Ruckus switches and routers, and Aruba access points.

A drawback with these products is their stability. Almost all other networking devices I've seen need to be rebooted over time. If they're left unattended for extended periods of time, we experience some sort of downtime. That is not an issue with our Check Point products.

What other advice do I have?

Do your research and look into cloud solutions. Check Point offers many cloud services, and that's where everything's moving, towards the future. Research the different appliances and solutions that Check Point offers and find out what works best for your particular situation.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using Check Point's firewalls is not to be afraid to call for help. There are times where I may be trying to figure something out myself, when in all reality, all I need to do is call Check Point customer support. They'll explain to me why something is configured a certain way, or if there's a better way that I could go about configuring something, and things of that nature. They have been very helpful and have saved me time, anytime I've called.

I can't think of any additional features their NGFW needs that we don't already have access to. I know there are features such as moving the dashboard toward the cloud, and I think that's beneficial, but it's something they already offer. We just don't take advantage of it right now.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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