In today’s world, security is the most important concept for businesses of all sizes.
Every day, cyber crimes escalate drastically and catch businesses off guard. Modern-day businesses are in need of enhanced security solutions that will keep their networks, systems, and devices safe against cyber threats. Firewalls and antiviruses are among these enhanced security solutions.
In this article, we will analyze Firewall and antivirus solutions, their differences, and the reasons why businesses need both.
Understanding the Basics: Firewall and Antivirus
Firewalls and antiviruses are critical components of the cybersecurity posture of businesses. Firewalls are mainly network security solutions that are constructed to filter all incoming and outgoing traffic to the corporate networks and endpoints. Meanwhile, antiviruses are mainly end-point security solution that is constructed to protect end-point devices against malware, viruses, trojans, worms, etc.
Antivirus security solutions are integrated at a software level while firewalls can be integrated at both software and hardware level. Also, firewalls only deal with external threats, while antiviruses handle both external and internal threats. Now that we have pinpointed the basics of these solutions, we should examine these solutions further. Let’s start by explaining what is firewall?
What is a Firewall? A Closer Look
A Firewall is a computer network security system that is responsible for monitoring and filtering network traffic. A firewall solution is the first layer of defense and acts as a secure gateway between networks or devices and the world wide web. According to preset criteria, and rules that are set by businesses, firewalls control all incoming packets and permit traffic if the rules are met. The same rules apply to outgoing traffic as well, if the rules are met, the firewall lets the traffic go out.
Firewall rules can be grounded on the packet's source address, destination address, domain names, programs, ports, keywords, and protocol numbers. Simply, these solutions allow businesses to control which type of traffic can enter the network and which can’t. In this regard, firewalls can be used to restrict access to malicious content.
Also, these help businesses prohibit unauthorized parties from accessing private company networks. Another use case of firewalls is to prevent malicious traffic from inspecting networks and devices or they can be used to segment the network and create much smaller surface areas for attacks.
The main types of firewalls are packet filtering, circuit-level gateway, application-level (proxy), stateful inspection, and next-generation firewall. Each type can be used for different use cases.
What is Antivirus Software? Demystifying the Concept
Antivirus is an application or software that secures end-point devices against malware, trojans, worms, and viruses coming from the internet. Simply, these solutions help users prevent malicious code from disrupting and inspecting the device. Antivirus solutions have three functions and these are detection, identification, and removal.
When a malicious threat tries to inspect the device, antivirus software first detects it, secondly, it identifies the threat’s type such as a worm, trojan, or a virus. After these steps, it takes the necessary actions to eliminate malicious files in accordance with the detection issue.
Antivirus programs can block, fix or completely eliminate the software or malicious files from the end-point users’ device and recover the original backup program. Also, enhanced antivirus programs continuously update themselves to enable robust protection against evolving viruses and malware. This approach keeps security mechanisms up-to-date against new threats.
Differences Between Firewalls and Antivirus Programs
Between firewall and antivirus solutions, there are distinctive features. First, firewalls are network security solutions and they offer network layer protection, but antiviruses only secure end-point devices. Secondly, the primary purposes of firewalls are to monitor and filter all traffic, prohibit unauthorized access, and protect networks from all kinds of external threats.
Meanwhile, antivirus's primary purposes are to detect, identify and remove all malicious files and protect end-point devices against viruses, trojans, worms, and malware, and deal with both external and internal threats.
Thirdly, firewalls detect threats from incoming packets, but antiviruses detect threats from malicious programs and files. Fourthly, firewall solutions’ programming is more complex than antiviruses.
Fifthly, firewalls can be both software and hardware-based, but antiviruses can only be software-based. Lastly, there can be firewall counterattacks such as IP spoofing and routing, but there are no counterattacks possible for antiviruses after the elimination of a threat or malware.
How Firewalls and Antivirus Work Together for Enhanced Security
Both firewalls and antiviruses provide great perks to businesses, and when they are used together they enable enhanced security for corporate networks and end-point devices.
By using both, businesses can prevent unauthorized access, block access to malicious content, have logging & auditing functions, transfer data safely, enable greater network control, and protect networks and end-point devices against all kinds of external and internal threats. Simply, using both solutions will enable reliable and robust defense against cyber threats and attacks and help businesses secure corporate assets.
Possible Risks of Using Only One: Firewall or Antivirus
Firewalls and antivirus software play a critical role in network security. Although each has distinctive protection areas and methods. Firewalls secure network traffic and data transmission by regulating access, monitoring, and blocking unauthorized parties while antivirus secure endpoint devices or users by detecting and eliminating malicious actors within. Also, firewalls act as a first defense barrier and prevent cybersecurity threats such as DDoS attacks, social engineering tactics, and data breaches from the start.
In this sense, only using an antivirus system will put an unnecessary extra load on it, which can lead to bugs and crashes. In return, the antivirus program can malfunction, and malicious codes can infiltrate your network. Even if antivirus software can perfectly eliminate viruses, malware, trojans, and worms spoofing into endpoint devices or users, there are still many other forms of cybersecurity risks that danger business networks.
In the reverse situation where only a firewall is used without antivirus, tons of malicious codes are spiraling down the Internet, and these illicit actors can cause irreversible damage to business networks and their assets, or create new vulnerabilities so that sensitive data is easier to be stolen. Let’s say that you have another security solution to combat these malicious codes, you cannot possibly protect your network against IP spoofing and routing.
Why You Might Need Both: Balancing Protection
As we mentioned earlier, both firewalls and antivirus programs have specific functions and methods to combat a variety of cybersecurity threats. Firewalls secure all incoming and outgoing traffic between the network and the Internet while antivirus software ensures the safety of endpoints in the network structure.
Firewalls act as a barrier to stop illicit traffic and reduce the attack area with segmentation. Smaller attack areas allow other cybersecurity solutions to work more efficiently. Antivirus software can quickly get rid of malicious codes and files. That’s how you can balance protection in every layer of the network.
Conclusion: Optimizing Your Cybersecurity Strategy
You can’t go wrong with a layered defense system unless serious misconfigurations or vulnerabilities are present. Coupling firewalls and antivirus software will allow your organization to enhance its cybersecurity posture.