Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). Cyber awareness is growing rapidly among businesses and large enterprises. As each day passes, companies are exposed to cyber security threat actors evolving from traditional attacks to more sophisticated and critical attacks. Consequently, traditional network solutions can no longer keep up with the pace of these attacks.

This is the perfect time to transition from legacy network solutions to next generation security solutions. Today, we discuss two of the most popular next generation cyber security services – Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks. We’ll look at the differences between both services and their pros and cons. 

Let’s continue with Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons).

What is Zscaler?

First of all Zscaler is a company that provides secure cloud migration services to customers. The company was founded in 2007 with the primary motive is zero trust principles to help companies migrate their information from traditional network infrastructure to an innovative IT environment. Secondly, Zscaler acts as the gatekeeper that intercepts and routes all network traffic through its data centers before users make remote connections.

Thirdly, Zscaler is an improvement on traditional VPNs and other networking principles, due to its utilization of zero trust principles. The service requires little to no training. It’s also excellent and very easy to use, making employee onboarding a hassle free task. Zscaler utilizes AI and machine learning to isolate threats, as well as quarantine them in a virtual sandbox to prevent them from infecting the network.

Features of Zscaler

  • Zscaler regulates the amount of bandwidth available to applications. Rebalances the bandwidth in real time to prevent secondary applications from competing with principal services for bandwidth allocation. For example, streaming applications usually take up a lot of bandwidth. So Zscaler regulates their usage. 
  • Next advantage of Zscaler, it identifies as well as neutralizes malware and threat actors by quarantining them in an AI generated sandbox. Files stored in the sandbox are stored outside the network to prevent contamination. The AI used to detect threat actors can also identify files hidden in encrypted traffic. 
  • Zscaler conducts frequent SSL inspections of HTTPS traffic throughout the network. The service scans the type of data transmitted throughout the network and applies policies to determine whether or not such sites are safe to visit. 
  • Zscaler regulates which category of sites users can connect to. It groups websites into categories based on their security level and acts autonomously to limit access to sites if they fall within the dangerous categories. Users have set predefined rules like site category, location, time intervals, etc. In addition, users are denied access to any site that falls into the prohibited category.

Pros of Zscaler

  • Functionality of Zscaler emphasizes policies. These policies tell the system what to do in specific scenarios allowing the system to act autonomously without human interaction. These policies include access, isolation, port forwarding, etc. Once these policies are configured, the software acts independently and neutralizes threats based on predefined rules.
  • One of the easiest cloud security solutions to deploy. As a result, you don’t need any hardware or software prerequisite to deploy the service. You don’t need to install or configure your appliances because everything you need to get the service up and running is provided independently by Zscaler. 
  • Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is a feature provided by Zscaler that prevents unsecured internet traffic from making connections to the client. Even if the connection is from a company employee, Zscaler’s zero trust principles prevent unsecured traffic from infiltrating the network. The feature also blocks access to malicious links and websites.

Cons of Zscaler

  • Well, Zscaler is a security solution. But due to bandwidth control, you can find yourself stuck with some pretty slow internet speeds. The service prioritizes connections from principal services rather than secondary applications. So if you’re streaming with Zscaler as your network security solution, you should be ready to receive a scaled down internet speed. 
  • One of the main purposes of Zscaler is to prevent access to unsecured sites and services. However, the service can sometimes block access to some essential services, and configuring exceptions for each service is difficult.

Up next with Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ?  we have Palo Alto Networks. 

What is Palo Alto Networks?

Palo Alto Networks is a next generation cybersecurity company based in Santa Clara, California. Founded in 2005 by Nir Zuk a pioneer developer of the first stateful inspection firewall and intrusion detection system. The company has since expanded its service, offering a wide range of cyber security services like endpoint security, malware protection, data security, network automation, and more. 

At the time of development, existing network security solutions could not provide a 100% secure way for employees to securely operate modern applications. The main goal of Zuk while designing Palo Alto Networks was to provide enterprises with a solution to this problem. Zuk was able to achieve this and in 2007, the company shipped its first advanced enterprise firewall. 

Moreover, Palo Alto Networks operates differently than traditional firewalls, which depend on simple rules such as port numbers and protocol to block traffic. Instead, this next generation firewall inspects all network layers and is independent enough to block threats irrespective of the port numbers or protocol used for the attacks.

Features of Palo Alto Networks

  • Palo Alto Networks is a next gen firewall. Runs on PAN-OS and is available in multiple forms to suit customers’ needs. The firewall operates as a physical appliance through the PA series, which includes firewalls such as the PA-200, which is meant for businesses, or the PA-7000 series, which is designed for large enterprise networks. 
  • Traps is an advanced endpoint protection feature that aims to replace legacy antivirus systems using a multi faceted approach, that blocks malware and exploits. Additionally, it prevents suspected cyber breaches by launching a pre-emptive strike to block threats throughout the network. However, Traps does not block malware based on the signatures. Instead, it analyses programs’ behaviour to determine if they are malicious. 
  • Wildfire is a cloud analysis feature that utilizes data and threat intelligence from some of the world’s largest information communities. It automatically analyses the data to stop threats and attackers. Wildfire also utilizes dynamic, machine learning, static, and bare metal analysis to identify and neutralize threats. 
  • Panorama is a network security control center, that allows users to manage all the operational firewalls in the network from a single dashboard. Also, it provides a simplified view of all the URLs, data files, and patterns throughout the network so you can easily identify and eliminate threat activity. Additionally, the interactive interface provides a graphical overview, giving you a quick and insightful overview of your network.

Pros of Palo Alto Networks

  • On average, traditional firewalls are replaced every four to five years because their hard coded chipsets are incompatible with the latest operating systems. However, Palo Alto Networks’ next generation firewalls don’t need to be replaced because the chipsets are encoded in a way that can be upgraded and reprogrammed as new firewalls and operating systems develop. 
  • With Palo Alto Networks, you get extensive reports, notifications, and logs of all the activities in your network. The software has built in mechanisms that provide users with detailed insight into the application traffic in the network. Users are provided with an Application Command Center (ACC) in the web interface. This interface identifies applications with the most traffic to track high risk scenarios. 
  • Due to Palo Alto Networks’ single pass architecture, users can inspect and protect network traffic at a very high rate. Most traditional firewalls suffer network latency and reduced performance when more security features are enabled. However, this next gen firewall supports multi gigabit speed without compromising speed or performance.
  • Palo Alto Networks’ Panorama feature provides users with an interactive graphical interface that they can use to manage all their network operations from a single command center. This web interface can provide users with detailed insight into attack patterns, network speeds, traffic, and many more, all combined and displayed on a single interface. 

Cons of Palo Alto Networks

  • The service is pretty expensive to purchase. Prices range from a couple of thousand dollars to up to $200k. However, this price might depend on your preferences, but you get what you pay for. Plus, the features are top notch. 
  • With each update, the software becomes much more complex to operate and configure. For example, users must deploy specific applications to the cloud to enable SD WAN connectivity. Each application has built in firewall protection, but customers might still need to deploy a Palo Alto NGFW. These deployments are excellent for improving security but can become very cumbersome to manage.

Now with article Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? is to talk about their differences.

Differences Between Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks



Here the Zscaler isn’t a very cheap security solution. The pricing is very competitive compared to its competitors, like Microsoft and Palo Alto Networks. Zscaler has an annual subscription based model. However, they have several plans for their customers. You need to get a quote from Zscaler to get the costs of their subscriptions. 

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks is one of the most expensive security solutions available today. But users do get access to top notch security services. However, unlike Zscaler, Palo Alto’s pricing structure isn’t divided into separate plans. Instead, you pay for what you want. Palo Alto has several products divided into three categories; any product you purchase from these categories comes at a cost.

Remote Access


Zscaler allows users to make remote connections from their homes to their offices, allowing them to work anywhere in the world. It leverages Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to facilitate remote connections without requiring VPNs. It requires no physical appliances to set up and users can deploy it in all environments. 

Palo Alto Networks

With Palo Alto Networks, users can make remote connections through GlobalProtect and Prisma Access. GlobalProtect and Prisma utilize ZTNA to assess the health and security posture of any device before allowing them into the network.

Endpoint Protection


The main functionality of Zscaler is not meant to offer endpoint protection capabilities. Instead, it helps customers make fast and secure connections, regardless of the device or location. However, considering that all network traffic coming into the network passes through Zscaler, in a way, it serves as an endpoint protection solution because it is the first line of defence for all endpoint connections. 

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks’ primary design is to be a next generation antivirus. This makes it very capable of providing endpoint protection. Cortex XDR is a solution offered by Palo Alto with the primary objective of securing endpoint connections. It provides rock solid malware protection, host firewall, disk encryption, and many more. 

Reports and Analytics


Zscaler provides users with an interactive, aggregate view of each application used in the platform. The platform’s interactive dashboard provides insights on cloud activity, global threats, encrypted traffic, IoTs, and many more. 

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto provides users with a detailed analysis of threat activity throughout the network. The Panorama feature on Palo Alto provides a graphical interface that displays information about network speeds, attack patterns, threat activity, malware behaviour, and more. 

Threat Isolation


Zscaler utilizes artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning models to identify and neutralize threat actors in the network. When threats are identified, Zscaler whips up an AI generated sandbox that quarantines the malicious files. This prevents it from having direct contact with the network.

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks also provides threat isolation capabilities but handles them differently. When the service identifies a compromised endpoint, it isolates the file automatically. However, with Palo Alto, the quarantined file is not stored in an AI generated sandbox; rather, it moves the file from the local drive to a local quarantine folder where the isolated file is stored. 

Threat Intelligence


Zscaler isn’t particularly a threat intelligence service. However, Zscaler integrates with several leaders in SIEM, SOAR, and TIP, to monitor and manage network infrastructure with tools you already use. Zscaler partners with third party services specializing in threat intelligence to integrate their functionality into the software. 

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks serves as a firewall software and threat intelligence is one of its strong features. It handles threat intelligence through its Cortex XSOAR Threat Intelligence Management. The main responsibility of XSOAR is to track and identify threats in an organization’s network; it provides real time insights and actionable intel to security teams to help them eliminate threats. 

Thank you for reading Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? Let’s conclude.

Zscaler vs Palo Alto Networks – What’s the Difference ? Conclusion

There you have it, a complete overview and comparison of two very popular cyber security providers. Zscaler and Palo Alto provide very standard protection for their customers. However, they both differ in their features, functionality, and use cases. One similarity between the two software is that they are next generation security solutions. 

On a neutral ground, Palo Alto Networks is a better alternative for users who want a next generation firewall to help secure their networks. While Zscaler’s zero trust network access (ZTNA) will provide you with secure remote connections, features like Wildfire and Panorama are unparalleled in the industry. Therefore, if you can afford a Palo Alto subscription, it’s most likely a better option.

Please take a look at our Cyber Security section in our blog here.

Avatar for Kamso Oguejiofor
Kamso Oguejiofor

Kamso is a mechanical engineer and writer with a strong interest in anything related to technology. He has over 2 years of experience writing on topics like cyber security, network security, and information security. When he’s not studying or writing, he likes to play basketball, work out, and binge watch anime and drama series.

4.3 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x