By Michael Goodwin on May 25th, 2007
A personal firewall — a piece of software that runs on your own PC and protects it from some, but not all attacks — may not cost much over $100 (In fact, you probably already have one, built into Windows, Norton SystemWorks or your router itself). However, if you want a firewall that will support multiple users on a large network, with all the latest defensive features (some of which cost extra) and enough RAM to enable high-bandwidth throughput, you could be looking at $10,000 and up. Way up.
Still, many of the features that you get with high-end firewalls are undeniably appealing. They include VPN gateways, easy-to-use GUI-based management for multiple workgroup firewalls, monitoring capability, support for applying different security policies to different users, sophisticated authentication mechanisms and high availability with load balancing and failover.
Ultimately, trying to figure out how much you'll actually have to spend on an enterprise firewall is an advanced exercise. For one thing, some firewalls are stand-alone software and some are combined hardware/software appliances. For another, every firewall boasts a different feature set, plus a unique assortment of add-ons, hardware/software options and licensing strategies. The product comparison table that accompanies this overview provides general price ranges for each product, but in most cases a call to the vendor is the only way to figure out how much you'll really have to pay.