6 Best Unified Threat Management (UTM) Devices & Software

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Unified threat management (UTM) offers a product approaching total security in a box, ideal for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs). UTMs combine multiple network security functions in a single appliance. Typical solutions of UTM devices include intrusion prevention, antivirus, URL filtering, and VPN functionality. 

Many products that were once labeled UTM are now marketed as firewalls, but they still serve a similar purpose. We’ve compiled our list of the six best UTM products for businesses and also provide a guide for buyers to narrow down their options and select the best product for their team.

Featured Partners: Threat Intelligence Software

Top UTM Devices and Software: Comparison

The following chart compares our selected UTM products with a brief overview of their features.

Intrusion prevention (IPS)Quality of service SandboxingDeep packet inspection Free trial available
SonicWallβœ…βœ…βœ…βœ…πŸŸ₯
WatchGuardβœ…βœ…βœ…βœ…βœ…
Fortigateβœ…πŸŸ₯βœ…βœ…βœ…
Barracudaβœ…βœ…βœ…πŸŸ₯βœ…
Juniperβœ…βœ…βœ…πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯
Sophosβœ…βœ…βœ…βœ…πŸŸ¨

βœ… = Has feature     πŸŸ₯ = Not offered     🟨 = Unclear

SonicWall icon.

SonicWall TZ Series Gen 7

Best Overall

Overall rating: 4.35/5

  • Pricing and Transparency: 2.25/5
  • Core Features: 4.75/5
  • Additional Features: 4.05/5
  • Ease of Management: 4.5/5
  • Customer Support: 5/5

SonicWall offers solutions for networks of all sizes. The TZ Series Gen 7 is designed for SMBs and distributed enterprises, and its focus on rapid deployment and simple management make it attractive for smaller teams. These firewalls are designed to meet specific security and usability needs, with an emphasis on affordable pricing.

One feature to highlight is Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a cloud-based sandboxing solution that uses deep memory inspection to identify malware. Consider the TZ Series Gen 7 for smaller businesses with security teams that want to dive into advanced tools. Keep in mind licensing prices for additional features, too, especially if you have a significantly limited budget.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Good for very small businesses like startupsMultiple user complaints about pricing 
Advanced features still available for experienced IT personnel Multiple customers had trouble with SonicWall’s technical support

Pricing

Potential customers can either contact SonicWall’s sales team directly or shop for resellers from which they can purchase different TZ Series models.

Features

  • Zero-touch deployment, which simplifies device deployment through preconfiguring and onboarding devices so they don’t have to be manually deployed
  • Support for TLS 1.3
  • AES 256-bit encryption for VPN
  • Deep packet inspection services, including anti-spyware
  • Single sign-on users available

Learn more about the different types of network security.

WatchGuard icon.

WatchGuard Firebox M590/M690

Best for Value

Overall rating: 3.93/5

  • Pricing and Transparency: 4.25/5
  • Core Features: 4/5
  • Additional Features: 4.05/5
  • Ease of Management: 5/5
  • Customer Support: 4.25/5

WatchGuard Firebox products support network security needs of small and medium-sized businesses in particular. The M590 and M690 don’t skimp on the advanced features, however β€” through WatchGuard’s Total Security plan, they provide IPS, network discovery, and EDR Core functionality. They’re best suited to mid-sized teams as well as distributed enterprises.

Teams should consider WatchGuard’s Unified Security platform if they’re looking to centralize their security solutions: it provides a central management console for the Firebox appliances as well as WatchGuard’s endpoint and authentication tools.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
EDR capabilities for teams looking for a more advanced unified cybersecurity suiteMultiple customers complained about the user interface being outdated or difficult to use
High overall customer reviews for ease of deployment and management, as well as customer support The System Manager software can’t be installed on a Mac machine 

Pricing

To purchase the Firebox M590 or M690, contact the WatchGuard sales team or select an approved reseller.

Features

  • Application control
  • Network address translation
  • Threat protection for denial-of-service attacks
  • Endpoint detection and response features through EDR Core
  • Policy- or application-based network traffic management
Fortinet icon.

Fortigate 900G

Best for Enterprises

Overall rating: 3.9/5

  • Pricing and Transparency: 4.25/5
  • Core Features: 3.5/5
  • Additional Features: 3/5
  • Ease of Management: 4.5/5
  • Customer Support: 5/5

Fortinet FortiGate NGFWs offer integrated zero trust network access (ZTNA) enforcement, SD-WAN, and security processing units. These allow customers to build hybrid IT architectures and deliver zero trust strategy to protect users, applications, and edge environments, while retaining optimal user experience.

Fortinet offers a range of NGFWs that run the same FortiOS to converge networking and security. They are underpinned by the Fortinet Security Fabric, providing integrated detection and automated and coordinated responses to cybersecurity threats. If your enterprise is focused on zero trust, consider a Fortigate appliance.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Support for zero trust network accessUnclear whether reporting tools are available for the 900G
Enterprise-grade NGFW Lacks quality of service features 

Pricing

FortiGate can be deployed as a physical or virtual device, as a container, or as a cloud service. You have the option to purchase from multiple resellers; Fortinet doesn’t have a direct purchasing form on its website.

Features

  • Integrated ZTNA enforcement
  • Deep packet inspection
  • Security for operational technology (OT) environments
  • Protection from web threats like botnets and malicious URLs
  • Zero-day threat prevention using inline malware prevention, a sandboxing Fortinet tool

For more information, read the full Fortigate review.

Barracuda icon.

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall F12A

Best for Public Cloud Management 

Overall rating: 3.84/5

  • Pricing Availability: 3.75/5
  • Core Features: 4.2/5
  • Additional Features: 3/5
  • Ease of Management: 3.25/5
  • Customer Support: 5/5

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall‘s base functions include application control, user awareness, cloud-based advanced threat protection, and a spam filter. It includes NGFW and SD-WAN in one box, plus optional ZTNA for easy access of resources behind the firewall. The F12A is more suitable for smaller businesses, but Barracuda offers models for larger teams, too. Consider the CloudGen Firewall if you’re specifically looking for cloud-based management; it can be deployed on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Free trial available Lacking in policy management functionality 
Can be deployed on AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform Limited reporting features

Pricing

The CloudGen Firewall can be deployed through hardware, virtually, or in the cloud. Contact Barracuda’s sales team for configuration and purchasing information, or search directly for resellers β€” Barracuda has multiple, including Amazon and CDW.

Features

  • Network access control
  • Quality of service
  • Integration with Barracuda’s Cloudgen Access product to facilitate ZTNA application access
  • Includes industrial controls protocol enforcement for protocols like IEC 61850
  • Global threat intelligence network
Juniper Networks icon.

Juniper Networks SRX2300

Best for Edge Networks 

Overall rating: 3.66/5

  • Pricing and Transparency: 0.75/5
  • Core Features: 4.75/5
  • Additional Features: 2.75/5
  • Ease of Management: 4.25/5
  • Customer Support: 3.5/5

The SRX Series is designed for a variety of small to large enterprises, with features like inline decryption and inspection of inbound and outbound SSL connections at the SRX firewall. Juniper Networks’ firewalls can be used to extend security to every point of connection in the network, from client to workload. Combined with behavioral and real-time threat detection, the firewalls safeguard users, applications, and devices. The SRX series is more suitable for businesses with IT and security teams that can take advantage of the enterprise-grade features.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Offers enterprise security features like sandboxing and threat intelligence feedsLimited buying options 
Integrates with third-party networking providersNo free trial 

Pricing

For specific pricing details for the SRX2300, contact Juniper’s sales team.

Features

  • Decryption and inspection of SSL traffic
  • Quality of service
  • Sandboxing
  • SecIntel threat intelligence feed
  • Policy management
Sophos icon.

Sophos XGS

Best for SMBs Set to Scale Rapidly

Overall rating: 3.43/5

  • Pricing and Transparency: 0.75/5
  • Core Features: 3/5
  • Additional Features: 3.3/5
  • Ease of Management: 5/5
  • Customer Support: 4.25/5

The Sophos XGS Desktop models are designed for small businesses and branch offices, with other XGS models available for larger businesses’ needs. Sophos Xstream architecture, a software solution that can be bundled with XGS firewalls, protects the network with features like deep packet inspection and TLS inspection. Other notable features include sandboxing and web gateway policy controls.

Sophos has done particularly well in the 2023 MITRE testing, too, so they’re a top contender for larger businesses as well. But for SMBs, Sophos really shines, receiving high overall reviews for ease of use. Consider Sophos if your smaller business is set to scale significantly in the next few years.

Pricing

Sophos XGS can be deployed in the cloud, as a virtual machine, or on teams’ existing hardware. Contact the sales team for pricing and buying details.

Pros and cons

ProsCons
Advanced features like sandboxing and threat intelligence reporting Multiple customer reviews complain about bad technical support
Overall ease of use and configuration according to usersSome users wanted more detailed reporting options 

Features

  • Reporting for networks and application behavior
  • Web gateway policy controls
  • Sandboxing designed to identify zero-day threats
  • Optional modules for Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Threat intelligence reports 

Key Features of UTM Devices and Software

The feature sets of UTM products vary somewhat, but there are a few key features to look for when your team is beginning the buying process.

Antivirus

Antivirus software helps protect networks and computer systems from malicious software, constantly scanning for threats. UTM tools should block viruses when they locate them.

VPN

Virtual private networking creates secure tunnels so computer and network users don’t have to worry about an attacker spying on their session. UTM products often include IP Security (IPSec) VPN tunneling, Site-to-Site tunneling, or Secure Socket Layer (SSL) VPN.

Web or URL Filtering

URL filtering allows IT and security teams to block specific websites’ URLs if they’ve determined the sites are dangerous or compromise the business’s overall security. These filters should be highly customizable and easy to implement.

Application Control

Application control in a UTM identifies applications based on their standard traffic on the network and then blocks applications based on the UTM’s policies. Enterprises might set policies to block applications that carry certain security risks or applications that consume too much network bandwidth.

Quality of Service

Quality of service technologies help IT and security teams optimize the network resources, like bandwidth, that they can dedicate to processing traffic. For example, QoS in a UTM might limit the bandwidth that one application can consume during 3 PM on weekdays so another critical application has plenty of resources around that time. Teams can use QoS to prioritize particular applications and jobs.

How to Choose the Best UTM Product for Your Business

When you’re narrowing down your list of options β€” some may be on this list and some may not β€” take the following points into consideration. They apply to all UTM solutions, not just the ones we’ve listed.

Pick a Few Must-Haves

The UTM product that fits your team expertise and budget may not have every feature your IT and security teams dream of, but it should meet a few needs you’re really prioritizing. Make a list of three to five non-negotiable features and only consider products that offer those. This will help narrow your selections and put more helpful products at the top of your list.

Look at Coverage

UTM products are generally designed to meet all cybersecurity needs for SMBs, so they don’t have to worry about managing multiple security products (and footing the bill for them). But not all UTM products may have the coverage a larger business needs; make sure your team has the budget for other tools if the UTM you choose lacks certain security functions.

Consider Scalability

If your SMB is set to scale rapidly in the next few years, choose a UTM or NGFW that can continue to meet your team’s technology needs at the end of that time period. You want to invest in a product that will take you far, not have to replace the solution within a couple of years. Even if making a strong investment requires purchasing a slightly more expensive product, talk with your buying committee to see if that’s an option. You want to save money in the long run rather than having to buy multiple products in a short period of time.

Communicate with the Vendor

Make sure you communicate extensively with a vendor once you’ve narrowed down your options to determine whether they’d truly be a good fit as a long-term partner. Additionally, consider how much customer support you’ll need. This partly depends on your team’s expertise β€” a junior team may need a vendor with extremely responsive customer support and a simple user interface, but experienced personnel may have more flexibility to do things on their own.

How We Evaluated UTM Devices

We evaluated the UTM solutions using a product scoring rubric. In our rubric, we weighted criteria and features according to the percentages listed for each below, and that weighting factors into the total score for each product. The six products that scored highest in the rubric made our list.

Note that the score each product receives is only based on whether it meets the criteria we set for the analysis rubric. All these products have had success in this category, but their score here analyzes how well they met our specific criteria.

Pricing Transparency & Trials | 10 Percent

We evaluated whether the vendor was transparent about pricing, whether buying was an option from resellers, and whether the product had a free trial, including how long the trial lasted.

Core Features | 35 Percent

We evaluated the most important features for UTM products,, like antivirus software, VPNs, URL filtering, and quality of service.

Additional Features | 20 Percent

We evaluated nice-to-have features like sandboxing, logging, and deep packet inspection.

Ease of Management | 20 Percent

We evaluated availability of knowledge bases, availability of policy management and reporting tools, and whether the product had multiple deployment options.

Customer Support | 15 Percent

We evaluated phone and email availability, product demo availability, and whether technical support teams offered a 24/7 option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

People often ask the following questions about UTM products and their role in the security industry.

How Is UTM Different From NGFW?

Initially, unified threat management was developed as an all-in-one security solution for smaller organizations. They often included firewalls along with other features. In recent years, UTM products have been marketed less frequently, and next-generation firewalls β€” which serve a similar purpose, but sometimes are marketed to larger teams β€” have gained popularity. However, many NGFWs actually act as UTMs, and vice versa. Many of the products on this list are identified by the vendor as both UTM and NGFW.

What Threats Do UTM Systems Protect Against?

UTMs should protect businesses from the majority of cybersecurity threats, including malware, malicious network traffic, and even ransomware. Because UTMs combine a wide range of security functions, they’re designed to identify and halt many different attacks.

What Is UTM Hardware?

A UTM hardware appliance is the device on which all the UTM management software runs. Some vendors offer a virtual UTM appliance, which runs in a virtual environment atop a hypervisor. But other than virtual products, the majority of UTM products include both hardware and software. Many give your team the option to manage the solution in the cloud.

Bottom Line: The Importance of UTM

While the UTM market has been evolving in recent years, and some vendors have foregone the UTM label for NGFW, unified threat management is still a useful product. It’s especially relevant for small businesses who don’t want to commit to an enterprise-grade NGFW yet. It’s unclear how the UTM market will eventually unfold β€” some industry experts even predict everything will head to the cloud with secure service edge/secure access service edge (SASE) solutions. But for the time being, small enterprises benefit from the combined features in a UTM product, especially single web consoles that simplify overall management.

If you’re looking for a different network security product, read our picks for the best enterprise network security tools next.

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