Sophos Xg Firewall

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Every maintenance release (MR) for XG Firewall v18 brings compelling new features, including a variety of performance, stability, and security enhancements. MR5 is no exception.

What’s new in v18 MR5

Our Free Home Use XG Firewall is a fully equipped software version of the Sophos XG firewall, available at no cost for home users – no strings attached. Features full protection for your home network, including anti-malware, web security and URL filtering, application control, IPS, traffic shaping, VPN, reporting and monitoring, and much more. If there is multiple firewall rules from VPN to LAN zones, then put the above firewall rule at the top of the list as described in Sophos XG Firewall: How to change firewall rule order. It is possible for the remote host to access the internet via the XG Firewall. Sophos XG Firewall is a next-generation firewall in an all-in-one solution. It combines advanced networking, protections such as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Web Application Firewall (WAF), plus user and application controls. XG Firewall Free Trial XG Firewall identifies hidden risks and threats that other firewalls miss and automatically isolates active threats - something no other firewall can do. Blocks unknown threats with a comprehensive suite of advanced protection including IPS, ATP, Sandboxing, Dual AV, Web and App Control, Anti-phishing, a full-featured Web.

VPN enhancements

  • A huge 50% increase in concurrent IPSec VPN tunnel capacity across the line
  • Port 443 sharing between SSL VPN and the Web Application Firewall (WAF)
  • IPSec provisioning file support for remote access via Sophos Connect v2.1


  • Integration with Azure Virtual WAN for a complete SD-WAN overlay network


  • Integration with Azure Active Directory (learn more)

Certificate management and security

  • Form enhancements for creating certificate signing requests and certificates
  • Enhanced security for private keys
  • Upload/download support for PEM format certificates
  • Enhanced workflows for certificate management

Synchronized Security

  • Enhanced registration and de-registration in high-availability (HA) installations
  • Missing Heartbeat enhancements to reduce notifications sent for intended/expected changes in endpoint status

Sophos Central Firewall Reporting

  • New Cloud Application (CASB) report
  • MSP Flex Pricing for MSP partners

View the full release notes on the Sophos Community Blog.

Other Recent Enhancements

If you’re not running the latest v18 firmware on your firewall, you’re missing out on a ton of new capabilities and dozens of resolved issues.

In addition to the above, these capabilities have been added in other v18 maintenance releases:

High-availability enhancements

  • Improved FastPath support for active-passive pairs
  • HA support in AWS using the AWS Transit Gateway
  • Setup, reliability, and stability enhancements

VPN and Sophos Connect Remote Access Client

  • A huge increase in SSL VPN connection capacity (up to 3-6x)
  • Remote access IPSec policy provisioning with Sophos Connect v2.1
  • Group support for Sophos Connect which enables imports from AD/LDAP/etc.
  • New advanced options for IPSec remote access
  • Sophos Connect downloads enabled from the user portal
  • Enforcement of TLS 1.2 for SSL site-to-site and remote access VPN tunnels

Synchronized Security

  • A new option for Synchronized App Control to automatically clean up discovered apps over a month old

Cloud platform support

  • Support for new AWS instances (C5/M5 and T3)
  • Support for cloud formation templates
  • Virtual WAN zone support on custom gateways for post deployment single arm usage
  • Nutanix and Nutanix Flow support

Sophos Central

  • Group firewall management via the Partner Dashboard
  • Firmware update scheduling
  • Multi-firewall reporting across firewall groups
  • Save, schedule, and export reports from Sophos Central

Security and authentication enhancements

  • Stronger password hash algorithm (requires a password change)
  • Auto web-filtering of Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) identified sites containing child sexual abuse
  • Support for creating users with UPN format for RADIUS authentication

It’s easy and free

Of course, all these features are a free upgrade for Sophos customers and are as easy as clicking to upgrade your firmware in your firewall console or scheduling a firmware update through Sophos Central.

Upgrade to v18 today!

Now is the perfect time to upgrade. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s new in v18, check out these excellent articles that will help you make the most of the many new capabilities in v18:

Sophos Xg Firewall Home Edition

XG Firewall makes it simple to get up and running quickly with the best network visibility, protection, and response in the industry. We make it easy to protect your network across multiple sites while also enabling access for your remote workers.

Getting started


If you just received your XG Firewall, run through the convenient XG Firewall setup wizard which will have you up and running in a few minutes with essential protection for your network.

If you are running two XG Firewall appliances in High Availability mode for maximum business continuity, then be sure to take advantage of the new Quick HA option in v18.

INSTRUCTIONS: ‘How to deploy in gateway mode’ ► VIDEO ‘Registration and setup wizard’ ►

Get familiar with XG firewall

After the initial setup, review our extensive library of Getting Started How-To videos and the Documentation for XG Firewall. There’s also a great list of articles and videos to review on the Initial Setup Community Forum.

Periodic best practices checkup

To ensure your XG Firewall is protecting your network optimally, follow these best practices after initial setup or periodically.

If you don’t have time to perform these steps, the Sophos Professional Services team of network experts is available to help ensure your firewall is configured optimally. Contact them at [email protected]

Double check your protection licenses

On your XG Firewall go to Administration > Licensing and ensure you have these essential network protection subscriptions:

  • Network Protection – Essential for IPS, advanced threat protection, and botnet protection
  • Web Protection – Essential for web security and control and application control
  • Sandstorm Protection – Essential for the latest threat protection using artificial intelligence and sandboxing analysis
  • Email Protection – Essential for anti-spam and phishing attack protection
  • Web Server Protection – Essential if you have any servers that require public internet access

Update firmware

Always keep your firmware up to date to ensure you have the latest security, performance, and reliability updates. You can get the latest v18 release for your XG Firewall from MySophos.

INSTRUCTIONS: ‘How to download firmware updates’ ► VIDEO: ‘Firmware update and roll-back’ ►

Firewall rule and protection policy recommendations

Of course, by design, your firewall blocks all network traffic – your network is completely locked down – but you enable traffic to flow by creating firewall rules.

Firewall rules enable your network to function, but they also create opportunities for hackers, ransomware, and malware to enter. Hence, it’s essential to protect your network by applying security policies to these firewall rules.

If you’re new to XG Firewall or v18, check out the introductory video on Firewall Rules and the What’s new in v18 for Firewall Rules video.

If your firewall has been running for a while, you may have dozens or even hundreds of firewall rules you’ve added over time. It’s very important that you periodically review all your firewall rules to ensure that there are no avoidable “openings” in your network. Ensure you don’t have any unnecessary or unused rules that are presenting openings that hackers can take advantage of.

Start by checking the ‘Active firewall rules’ widget on the Control Center to identify unused rules:

Then, go through your firewall rules to examine all the active rules to ensure they are needed and proper protection is being applied.

Sophos Xg Firewall Home Edition Review

In particular, disable all non-essential port-forwarding rules, and re-evaluate if any of the port-forwarding rules you have can be better accommodated via VPN access or, at the very least, multifactor authentication.

Exposed services and servers through port forwarding are one of the top ways hackers breach your network. VPN and MFA provide much better security for remote access to internal network resources.

If you are on v17.x we suggest you upgrade to v18 for the latest NAT rule enhancements. If you are on v18 already, review all your NAT rules to ensure all are required and adequately protected by a corresponding firewall rule.

Make sure you’re applying essential protection to all your firewall rules. XG Firewall makes it super easy to assign web protection and control, intrusion prevention (IPS), sandboxing, and file analysis as well as application control.

In general, do not apply “Allow All” or “None” when selecting a protection policy. These should only be used in special circumstances or for troubleshooting, never as an active protection policy.

Recommended protection best practices

TLS Inspection

Most internet traffic is encrypted with SSL/TLS making it impossible to secure without proper inspection.

XG Firewall v18 introduced the new Xstream TLS Inspection feature that provides high-performance inspection of encrypted traffic, enabling you to properly protect your network. Ensure you have one or more TLS inspection rules applied to your internet traffic, otherwise a lot of the protection discussed below will be ineffective. (Instructions: ‘SSL/TLS inspection rules’ / Video: ‘Xstream SSL inspection in XG Firewall v18′).

You will need to deploy the XG Firewall SSL certificate on your client machines, which is accomplished easiest on Windows using the wizard in Microsoft’s Group Policy Manager.

After deployment, monitor TLS inspection via the Control Center and add important problematic sites to the exception list with the convenient tools available from the widget.

Web policy and protection

This determines which websites are allowed or blocked and how to protect web traffic. Any firewalls governing internet traffic should have a web filtering policy in place.

There are several built-in policies for schools, workplaces, and more that you can use out-of-the-box to make this easy. Simply choose one appropriate for your organization and customize it to suit your needs. (Instructions: ‘How to implement Web Protection’ instructions / Video: ‘How To: Creating Web Protection rules’).

Malware and content scanning

XG Firewall can scan all web traffic for malicious code and downloaded files.

We strongly recommend that you take advantage of SophosLabs Threat Intelligence and Sophos Sandstorm sandboxing to further analyze files.

To do so, simply check the option to “Detect zero-day threats with Sandstorm” for all rules governing web traffic. (Instructions: ‘How to configure Sophos Sandstorm’).


Intrusion Prevention looks for activity attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in networked devices. This is a common technique for hackers to get control of servers exposed to the internet and to move laterally within a network. IPS protection signatures are included for all platforms: Windows, Macs, Unix, and more.

Make sure you are applying IPS protection policies that align with the network platforms in your environment – use either one of the built-in policies or create your own. Also, ensure you not only apply IPS protection to internet traffic rules but also rules between different segments of your internal network (e.g. LAN and DMZ) to help catch active threats trying to spread on your network. (Instructions: ‘IPS policies’ / Video: ‘How To: Setting Up And Configuring IPS’).


Sophos Xg Firewall Datasheet

Advanced Threat Protection is another essential aid in identifying an active threat on your network. It examines outbound traffic for any attempts to contact known hacker command and control servers.

If an ATP is detected, it indicates you have a bot or threat on your network. ATP setup is super easy. (Instructions: ‘How to configure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)’).

Firewall best practices for blocking ransomware

Check out this white paper on additional best practices for blocking Ransomware attacks.

VPN connectivity recommendations

Sophos Xg Firewall

With VPN connections being tremendously important these days, here are some additional resources on getting the most from your XG Firewall’s VPN connectivity options.

Site-to-Site VPN: If you want the ultimate in VPN reliability and security between your central office and branch offices or remote locations, Sophos unique RED tunnels are ideal.

You can easily deploy an XG Firewall to a remote location without touching it and set up a RED tunnel in no time. (Instructions: ‘Substituting XG for RED devices via Light-Touch deployment from Sophos Central’).

Remote user VPN: If you have users working remotely, XG Firewall offers a couple of options for secure remote access.

Sophos Xg Firewall

Our previous article outlined the various access options and their pros/cons. We recommend using Sophos Connect Client for the ultimate in ease-of-use. (Instructions: ‘Sophos Connect Client’ / Video: ‘Sophos Connect VPN Client’).

Helpful resources

Customer Resource Center (how-to videos, documentation, and more)

How-To Video Library (dozens of video tutorials to get you started)

Sophos Xg Firewall Mfa

XG Community (tap into the vast knowledge and expertise of the XG Firewall community)