Pfsense Vs Cisco ASA – Which is the better system security solution?

Pfsense Vs Cisco ASA

In the search for a system security solution, Cisco ASA and Pfsense often top the lists for their ratings and reviews, but which one will tailor suit your needs?

There a lot of factors to consider when settling for a security solution for your home or work network system; the cost against the resources available, the systems capabilities against your network requirements and the skill-level required for use against the software skills available. Pfsense and Cisco ASA are vastly different in these areas with pfsense being free while Cisco ASA is paid and Pfsense using a GUI while Cisco ASA uses a CLI. It is up to a potential buyer to look into these distinctions and come to an informed decision on which of the two will work for them.

What are the differences between Pfsense and Cisco?

Cisco ASA
Operating system
Free BSD
Linux (ASA operating system)
User Interface
Graphical User Interface
Command Line Interface (Based on Linux) with a GUI
System speed
Up to 800 M/s
Depends on the package and additions

Pfsense Vs Cisco ASA – How do they compare?


Pfsense is completely free, which makes it a viable option for almost any user. There are some additional features and customer support that a user could choose to pay for, but the free version caters for all basic firewall requirements. Cisco ASA on the other hand is fully paid and may seem expensive at first glance. However, the developers at Cisco ensure that you get complete value for your money by offering 24/7 reliable customer care support as well as quality software service. It is also notable that Cisco is very economical for long-term use.

This makes Pfsense cheaper for short time and basic use, while Cisco is very affordable for long term use that would require customer care support.

Operating system and user interface

Linux, which is the operating system that Cisco is based on, is known for being rather difficult to navigate, especially for a new user. However, for a user who is familiar with operating any command line on Linux, operating Cisco ASA would be a walk in the park. Pfsense is based on Free BSD and uses a graphical user interface that is fairly easy to use and navigate, although the variety of options and drop menus may be a little intimidating

Cisco uses a CLI based on Linux, while pfsense uses a standard GUI. The obvious implications of this are that Pfsense is generally easier to use, while Cisco ASA effects firewall rule changes faster and more efficiently. It would be important to note that the command line for Cisco ASA is Linux, which is very common today, making the system easier to navigate for a user proficient in Linux operations compared to a GUI.

Pfsense is therefore easier to use for a user who is unfamiliar with a Linux command line, though it has a slight lag in effecting command rule changes.

Advancement of features

Being free, Pfsense developers do not heavily invest in advancing their features and end up using what is either popular or upstream on top of using Free BSD that is not specially designed for a security gateway but a final user device. It also requires you to create more rules than an average commercial firewall like Cisco ASA which reduces performance and increases the chances of human error. Cisco ASA is a dedicated and highly intuitive security software implying that it does not have any such shortcomings.

This implies that Cisco ASA has more advanced and targeted features, in addition to being more intuitive than Pfsense.

Pfsense Vs Cisco ASA – A comparison review


Pfsense is a free software

Pfsense is a free software that has become increasingly used as a firewall for home and work networks. It was initially designed to enable users to learn and have a basis to build physical routing and routing systems from scratch, which is what gives it its all-rounded edge in the market. It supports site to site VPN as well as VPN client, while having reliable packet filtering protocols. Its wide scope of features allows it to serve multiple functions for a network at a go including routing, firewalling as well as configuration as a DHCP, DNS or VPN server. This general capability of the software make it ideal for use in small businesses and home networks.


  • It is open source and free
  • It has a lot of additional features
  • It is easy to set up and start


  • It does not allow for multiple DNS servers to run at a go

Cisco ASA

Pfsense Vs Cisco ASA

The ASA (Adaptive Security Appliance) in Cisco implies that it does just that, adapts to the security requirements of the system it is connected to. It is a dedicated security software that combines various web security tools like antivirus, firewall, automated intrusion detection prevention and VPNs. These tools allow the software to offer a very proactive cyber defence because it is able to neutralize cyber threats before they fully spread within the network. Although it is often listed as using a GUI, its major limitation is that most commands cannot be put out and implemented without using the command line, which makes it heavily command line based.


  • The developers offer good and reliable customer care and product support
  • It is stable and gives very detailed information output
  • It is cost effective for long-term use


  • It is expensive for short-term use


Pfsense and Cisco ASA are both capable firewall software. However, Cisco ASA is more advanced and specified, which is why it is paid for. At the end of the day the decision between the two comes down to the available resources versus the user’s needs.

Verdict- So which is better, Pfsense or Cisco ASA?

For matters cyber security, Cisco ASA is definitely worth the resource investment it requires because it is very efficient.


What does the ASA in Cisco ASA stand for?

It is Adaptive Security Appliance. This means that the software is able to adapt to the web security needs and requirements posed by the network system which allows it to be very targeted and efficient in carrying out its firewalling duties.

What is privilege level in Cisco ASA?

Cisco products typically have three classes (levels) of user privilege.

  • Zero-level – The user is only allowed 5 commands (enable, disable, logout, exit and help)
  • User-level – Also referred to as level 1, the user is allowed read-only access that is limited.
  • Privilege-level – Also refereed to as level 15, the user is given complete system control and power.

What is Pfsense used for?

It is primarily used as a firewall and routing software. It can also be configured as a VPN, DNS or DHCP server or an access point for WIFI, all from the same device.



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