Is A Firewall Hardware Or Software?
A network without a firewall is like a house without doors. Without a firewall protecting your home or office network, hackers can easily access the internal resources of your business and leak sensitive data or cause other types of damage.
Firewalls can be either hardware or software. Hardware firewalls are typically located at the point of entry to the network, whereas software firewalls can be installed on your computer, or they may run on servers in the cloud.
What Is The Difference Between A Software Firewall And Hardware Firewall?
Well, both are designed to protect your company from cyber threats such as malware and hackers.
|Software Firewall||Hardware Firewall|
|Function||Filter incoming traffic by examining IP addresses, ports, and other factors that might indicate if they’re trying to access computer resources for malicious reasons||Block incoming traffic, but in this case with the help of different physical appliances installed on your network.|
|Configuration||Configuring a software firewall is easy||Configuration of hardware firewalls is hard.|
|Location||It is installed inside an individual system.||Installed outside systems.|
|Area of protection||It only protects that specific system where it is installed||Protects the whole network|
|Installation||Needs to be installed individually on every system in a network.||One firewall hardware works for the entire network|
What Is A Hardware Firewall?
A hardware firewall is a device that can act as an independent barrier between your internal network and the internet.
This type of firewalls uses physical appliances such as routers, VPNs, or other networking devices to protect your business from cyber threats by using different approaches like port filtering for incoming traffic based on IP address ranges and ports.
Hardware-based firewalls usually have more features than software ones because they’re dedicated security tools designed specifically for protecting company networks. Some extra features include,
- Anti-malware protection
- Intrusion detection
- Prevention systems (IDS/IPS) with behavior learning methods
- Web application firewall capabilities (WAF), etc.
On top of all this, you may also be able to set rules regarding which websites are allowed or blocked for your employees.
Pros of Hardware Firewall
- Effective Protection – Hardware firewalls can provide effective protection when installed at the network point of entry. This typically has the advantage of being able to block traffic from outside a network, but it can provide additional protection for endpoints inside the network as well.
- Protects the entire network – One hardware firewall can protect your entire devices connected to one network or system.
Cons of Hardware Firewall
- Vulnerable to Physical Attack – As they are physically located outside your company’s firewall, hardware-based devices may be vulnerable to physical attack or tampering by intruders who want to bypass security measures inside your system.
- Expensive – As these firewalls have their separate operating system, they are less prone to attacks.
- Hard to Install
What Is A Software Firewall?
A software firewall is a computer program that’s installed on your computer or server. It can block incoming traffic, but it works at the application level rather than below the OSI model.
In other words, it can inspect incoming packets and block them based on certain factors like the port they’re arriving from or destination IP address range.
In this case, it’s installed on your computer or server to protect them from cyber threats like malware and hackers trying to access your internal network for malicious reasons.
Software firewalls are also called personal firewalls because they’re created specifically for an individual device rather than as part of security appliances designed to protect multiple devices in a company network.
However, there can be some exceptions if you have anti-malware solutions with built-in personal firewall features (software) that work alongside other protective tools – hardware ones included.
In most cases though, types of software were originally developed as anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, but now they can also be used as firewalls.
Pros of Software Firewall
- Lower Cost
- Greater Portability – It can provide great portability for those that can be installed on servers within your organization.
- Easy to Install
Cons of Software Firewall
- Can Easily Be Hacked – Software firewalls are sometimes more susceptible to malware or hacking. For instance, if an attacker gains access to the server running a software firewall, they could potentially disable your entire system to bypass its security features and gain entry into your company’s network.
- Has to Be Installed In Every Computer In The System Manually
Which Version Of Firewall Should You Use?
If your business requires physical security, then hardware firewalls may be the best option.
For example, if you run a retail or restaurant chain that stores customer credit card information in its systems, it is probably not wise to use software-based security options since they can potentially compromise data stored on client computers and servers which have access to the Internet.
However, in business environments where physical security isn’t a concern, software firewalls are generally the best choice.
For example, if your company uses older equipment that doesn’t have dedicated firewall hardware functions built-in, a software-based solution is probably going to be more economical and effective than purchasing additional networking infrastructure.
Furthermore, because they are located inside your business’s network perimeter (and not at an ISP), software firewalls are generally less vulnerable to attacks by thieves or hackers who want access to your company’s internal systems.
Why Do I Need A Firewall?
A firewall is important to protect your privacy and confidential information. Here are some reasons why you may require a firewall,
- You need a firewall for your company if you want to reduce security risks that come with network connectivity.
- Another reason why you need a firewall is that it can save bandwidth and protect your network from DOS (denial of service) attacks. Sometimes, hackers use a distributed network of infected devices to attack your company’s resources.
They can be used as a botnet for sending spam or malware and even DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks that slowdown or completely block access to important services in your organization like web servers and email accounts.
- You may not realize it, but your employees can also use the internet for different reasons that have nothing to do with work. If there’s no firewall limiting access and bandwidth, this could lead to serious productivity losses in your company as well.
Most versions of software firewalls offer many advantages over their physical-based counterparts such as ease of installation and management.
Hardware firewalls can provide effective protection when installed at the network point of entry and are generally more expensive than software alternatives.
Just as with software-based firewalls, hardware-based ones can also inspect incoming traffic based on different factors and let it in or not. In addition to that, they may have some extra security features like port forwarding for remote access points such as VPNs.