OPNsense As a Professional Open Source Firewall

OPNsense As a Professional Open Source Firewall

IT projects based on open source have been gaining popularity for several years now, including OPNsense as a central firewall solution for companies. The growing community and the independent adaptability make OPNsense a future-proof alternative to commercial solutions. Thanks to many plugins, OPNsense is worth a closer look, especially for SMEs.

OPNsense As a Professional Open Source Firewall

Blackboxing, non-transparent licensing models, and sometimes unsatisfactory support are the negative characteristics of many a commercial IT security solution. The perceived high costs then often lead IT managers to question the purchase of such solutions.

However, carelessness is the worst advisor in this case. After all, nothing less is at stake than the protection of many companies’ most valuable assets: Data and know-how.

IT projects based on open source have been mainstream for several years now. That is why the security community is so large. Especially the topic OPNsense as a central firewall solution for companies is growing strongly.

An active developer community that regularly releases new versions is the best way to discover bugs before attackers do. OPNsense is open-source software. This means that developers can customize and extend the software themselves. There is access to the source code, which may be modified. These extensions are mostly offered free of charge on the Internet. A list of the most important extensions is maintained by one of the project’s partners. These include plug-ins for intrusion and malware detection, high availability, traffic analysis, and virtual private networks (VPN).

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Secure network connections via VPN with OPNsense

VPN is a focus topic for many companies, especially due to the trend towards home offices. However, the need for secure network connections via VPN also arises from the integration of external partners into the company’s own processes or the connection of several locations.

OPNsense already offers options in the core system such as a site-2-site connection using IPSEC or a remote access connection with OpenVPN. Other alternatives available via OPNsense are Tinc, OpenConnect, ZeroTier, and WireGuard. WireGuard is currently being discussed very intensively and could become the next big trend among VPN solutions due to a higher throughput rate, among other things.

OPNsense as a professional open source firewall solution for all cases

The market for open source firewall software offers a wide range of products – for example, OPNsense, pfSense, or IPFire. OPNsense in particular was created in 2015 as a fork (spin-off) of pfSense. OPNsense offers a number of advantages over pfSense, which are best seen in direct comparison. OPNsense is characterized by a clear, central user interface. With the MVC concept (Model, View, Controller) it is very easy to add your own plugins.

With the help of plugins, companies can react to current developments and expand the range of functions at any time. One advantage that particularly benefits small and medium-sized companies is the savings in licensing costs. The costs saved can then be invested, for example, in individual customization and IT support by a service provider.

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Commercial solution or open source?

The more open source offerings there are, the more often companies are faced with the question: Which is better? There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. After all, protecting corporate data and know-how requires a solution that meets internal needs. Commercial solutions usually offer a great depth of functionality such as multiple scenarios for high availability, application detection, and live traffic blocking.

The biggest advantages of OPNsense are cost and time savings. While commercial solutions require additional licenses for individual functions, OPNsense does not incur any licensing costs. All functions are included and can be flexibly adapted and extended at any time.

The constantly growing community and the independent adaptability make OPNsense a future-proof alternative to commercial solutions. Thanks to the continuously growing amount of plugins, OPNsense is especially recommended for small and medium-sized companies and at least worth a closer look.

Support from specialized managed service providers

One advantage of commercial solutions from large manufacturers is that the product and support usually come from a single source. However, this usually has to be booked as a lump sum, regardless of usage. Those who want to use open source solutions can turn to managed service providers for support, who offer the corresponding know-how. In this case, support can be obtained as needed for a comparatively low monthly flat rate. One example of this is m.a.x.

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Informationstechnologie AG, an IT service provider based in Munich. Their experts use commercial and open source software as needed and have helped develop a number of plugins for the OPNsense firewall. The m.a.x. it team also offers practical knowledge, including step-by-step instructions, webinars, and a technology blog.