Developed by one of the most valuable and influential companies (Cisco Systems, Inc), the Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center is an administrative nerve center for managing critical network security. 

The San Jose, California-based company was founded in 1984 and was one of the first companies to sell routers supporting multiple network protocols commercially. Since then, the company has continued to grow and develop new products and services, focusing on three market segments enterprise, service provider, mid-size and small business.

The firewall (FW) center provides complete and unified management over firewalls, application control, intrusion prevention, malware defense, and URL filtering. Moreover, it enables users to monitor their web requests and block or allow requests based on specified conditions while reducing threat dwell time.

The solution significantly increases efficiency as the company boasts its “If it’s connected, it’s protected” catchphrase by introducing simplified management of security options from a centralized location. Meanwhile, it presents real-time information about changing network resources and operations.

The official site looks clear and straightforward to operate, offering much information about the product and services but never too taxing on the eyes. 

For additional information about the product, users can visit the Learn page and check out the training library, webinars, videos, live streams, technology trends, etc.

Plans and pricing

Like with its competitors, Cisco’s pricing largely depends on the organization’s size, features, number of devices, and support program. 

However, to find out how much exactly this tailor-made solution will cost, your best bet is to request a price quote by filling out an application form on their official site. To submit this form, you’ll have to enter some personal information, including your full name, email, and phone number.

In addition, customers can chat directly with a sales representative on the official site or view a list of Cisco’s partners and locate the nearest one. 

If customers aren’t sure if this is the right product for them, they can set up a personalized demo with a Cisco Secure Firewall Expert or book an appointment to start a trial version of the product. 

The supported payment methods include all major credit/debit cards.

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center

(Image credit: Cisco)

Features and Functionality

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center is a threat-focused firewall policy and intrusion detection management system combining firewall and antivirus capabilities. It encompasses a next-generation intrusion prevention system, security tasks automation, and rapid threat containment where users can proactively mitigate risks.

Furthermore, it allows users to quickly deploy new applications over secured layers while freeing up resources for different services. The FW provides for the automation of security processes and rules enforcement across the network.

The solution provides comprehensive visibility into what is running on the network and cloud so users can see what needs protection. Additionally, it has built-in forensics, which gives a detailed analysis of malware and a graphical overview of affected devices. 

Users can also define intrusion prevention levels and malware threat defense policies which can be handy when tackling specific issues, such as blocking traffic from a particular country.

The solution constantly monitors how the network behaves and changes to streamline operations and reduce workflow. It archives this by automatically correlating and prioritizing new attack events and alerting if any attacks were successful. 

Besides that, it analyzes the network’s vulnerabilities and automatically recommends the appropriate security policies to be put in place. This allows for a great deal of flexibility when adapting network defenses.

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center

(Image credit: Cisco)

When it comes to troubleshooting firewalls and devices, in our experience, the solution is not very intuitive, and the whole process could be simplified a bit.

Interface and ease of use

Cisco FW Manager does not require users to install any additional software on their operating system (OS), enabling users to use any browser to operate the firewall. Before the first login, we suggest you consult the official site’s detailed installation guides, which outline crucial steps for proper configuration.

After the first login to the management center, users will be prompted to complete the initial configuration, after which the essential aspects of the system will be set up.

The interface utilizes a straightforward design with tabs on the top of the screen where users can see all available features. The overview tab is a summary tab where users can quickly glance at the data about the threats, intrusion events, geolocation, and network status. This design is advantageous as it allows for rapid response to internet attacks from a single console.

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center

(Image credit: Cisco)

Other primary tabs are Analysis, where users can thoroughly analyze collected data; Policies, as the name suggests, where users can manage and set up policy rules; and the Devices tab, which is used to manage network devices. 

Furthermore, users can configure additional management interfaces. This feature is helpful when users have large numbers of devices on different networks, and by adding more management interfaces, they can improve throughput and overall performance.

Customer support

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center

(Image credit: Cisco)

Cisco’s official site offers the most detailed support options we have seen so far. These options are divided into product, software, and licensing, with separate menus for each one. Once the support option is selected, the users can choose from a comprehensive list of topics and troubleshooting options to tackle their specific issue or question. 

Furthermore, users can also contact customer support directly by opening a new support case on the Contact Support page. However, you will need a product or software support contract to do this. Customer support can also be contacted by phone with direct support for over 62 countries worldwide.

Additionally, Users can also choose to undergo courses provided by Cisco to further increase their knowledge. A list of courses and their availability is accessible from the Cisco Learning Locator page.

Competition

FortiGate Cloud is a security management system with high integrability as it can be deployed on location as hardware or in a virtual setting in various models. The product combines firewall and antivirus capabilities, web filtering, threat protection, threat incursion prevention, and flood detection. It is a great first line of defense for small to mid-size network systems.

Similarly, Palo Alto Panorama is a capable network management tool that will provide customers with a comprehensive overview of the entire network security, generated traffic, used applications, and potential risks. It significantly simplifies the network configuration and management process.

Another good alternative is FireMon, which offers a comprehensive suite of security management tools that provide complete network security control, help identify vulnerabilities, and help monitor and optimize policies. The software also provides high scalability, including the ability to add additional servers after deployment. However, it’s a complex process that requires some technical know-how.

Final verdict

Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center is a powerful, web-based, multi-device manager that can use its own server hardware or be deployed as a virtual device. The solution offers a wide range of features and options users can utilize to improve their network security. However, it is a fairly complex system, and implementing it without the necessary technical knowledge can be challenging at the very least.