Software vs Hardware Firewall
As implied from the article name itself the firewall can be either the software as a program or the hardware as a physical machine that has its own RAM, CPU, and software. Usually, a hardware firewall is included in routers in the upper price range.
Each type of firewall has its own advantages and disadvantages and by combining both you can boost the pros and lose the cons. Let’s dive in and learn more about it.
Explanation of the Firewall
A firewall is software that protects a computer or a server from cyber attacks, it monitors the network and allows certain connections to pass through to your server, and restricts access for malicious ones by complying with a set of rules defined by the user.
Imagine that you have a house, but don’t have any fence around it. While your house still poses a difficulty for infiltration from thieves thanks to the doors, your yard is still an open place for villains to come through. A firewall does exactly this thing - becomes a fence to protect your house from bystanders moving on your lawn and potentially your house. The first line of defense as they like to call it.
A software firewall is software that is installed on a computer or a server that needs to be protected from network threats. It can be either installed on the OS or may come pre-installed like it is on Windows operational systems. Of course a lot of companies like Comodo of WatchGuard offer their own firewall products which you can install on your system as a substitute. If you require basic functions even the default Windows firewall can handle it. But it you require for example to set up a proper VPN, Windows resources might be not enough. So what are the pros of a software firewall?
Advantages of Software Firewall
- Price. Software firewalls cost obviously less than the hardware ones, because you don’t need to pay additional money for the machine. A lot of them are built on open-source basis so you can even download them for free. Also most of the paid firewalls allow several connections which can satisfy your needs.
- Easy to use. Installing and configuring such firewall is a straightforward process, which can be done just in a few clicks. Ofcoruse if you need to go deeper in tweaking stuff you need to know what you’re doing and have an expertise.
- Traffic filtering. Many software firewalls have the ability to control both inbound and outbound traffic, which in general is not available to hardware firewalls.
- Flexibility. Setting certain restrictions for software to connect to your server helps mitigate potential attacks.
Disadvantages Of Software Firewall
- Resource consumption. Since it is software it chews on the resources of the server, thus impacting its performance.
- Not suitable for a big network. If you are using it for 1-3 servers then it is fine but if you want to manage it on 30 servers the price for a software firewall can become pretty steep. Not to mention that if you have a big network of servers, that means that you are at least an enterprise, and free firewalls might not be a great fit for you.
As mentioned before, a hardware firewall is a separate machine that has its own CPU, RAM, and OS. This type of firewall is usually placed in data centers for enterprise customers, which means that the typical form factor of it is a rack unit. Of course, it may serve as a part of their network equipment like a router, so it will not take up extra space in the rack.
Usually, the firewall should be placed between the router and the internet network, because a firewall works as the filter or first line of defense before the traffic goes directly to the router and then to the servers.
Advantages Of Hardware Firewall
- Filtering. Since it is placed outside of the network it serves as the initial strainer for the traffic.
- Wide coverage. One of the main advantages is that it can cover the whole network no matter how many servers are in there. This is a very cost-effective solution and the main reason people pick up the hardware firewall.
- Performance. Hardware firewalls have their own dedicated resources and do not chew on server resources in the network. They work very fast and do not rely on the other servers to work.
- Linux. Almost no firewalls work under Windows OS. Most of them work on Linux thus staying very malware-resistant and stable.
Disadvantages Of Hardware Firewall
- Complexity. Configuring hardware firewalls requires certain expertise and is not something the typical user can do.
- No outbound traffic. The main draw is that it cannot handle it. That’s why people combine it with software firewalls.
Firewalls are a great addition to security measures for your server. Though it will not protect you from all the threats on the net. If your business becomes the target of the spoofing attack firewall will not be able to help. Another example is if the person just registers at your website and starts scamming other people on your platform or the person might send phishing emails to other users. No firewall can prevent it, but email monitoring can do.
A firewall is a primary weapon for defending against DDoS attacks and various attacks that work with traffic packets. If you want to defend yourself from viruses like trojans, we suggest using anti-virus software. You cannot stay 100% protected from all the threats and that’s where your cyber security specialists might come into play, who monitor the traffic activity on your server. If you want to have a stable server with a properly configured firewall you can contact our team via LiveChat and learn more. Stay safe!