Antivirus or Firewall: The Difference

Probably, there are no computer users who are not aware of the critical role of antivirus programs. They ensure the safety of their device. However, not everyone knows about the need to use such a protective measure as a firewall. Before considering the price of TotalAV, or downloading free software, one should comprehend the function of antivirus and its difference from the firewall.

Both antivirus programs and firewalls are instruments that are used as security arrangements in PCs and networks. These programs are not the same thing, so using them both is entirely possible and even recommended.

If to make a parallel with our life, then a firewall is the fence of your house. Its purpose is to keep intruders out. If they are already in, it does not allow them to take goods out of the house. Antivirus is a dog in your yard. It looks for and attacks unwanted visitors in the yard and at home.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is an object (device or software) designed to control (allow or reject) network traffic applying a kit of user-managed rules. The firewall is designed to allow only authorized connections. A firewall solution can be implemented in both hardware and software. Interestingly, software firewalls are standard in many operational systems.

Many routing devices include firewall elements. Alternatively, many firewalls can also act as routers.Multiple firewall types exist. They are categorized according to:

  • communication spot;
  • interception location;
  • monitored status.

A packet filter (network layer firewall) examines all incoming and outcoming packets in the network and allows or denies them depending on filtration rules. Firewalls that enforce application-specific security mechanisms such as FTP and Telnet servers are named application gateway proxies. In principle, this application layer firewall is capable of preventing all unwanted traffic.

The chain-level gateway enforces security mechanisms using UDP/TCP. The proxy server itself might be used as a firewall. Considering that it can intercept all incoming and outgoing messages, it can effectively hide the real net address.

It is necessary to distinguish between a network firewall and the firewall built into the operating system.

The network solution is installed at the edge (physical or logical) of the computer infrastructure and protects all PCs connected to the local network. It can be either a software or hardware-software solution. The built-in firewall solution is a program that works to protect an individual user’s computer only.

Antivirus definition

The task of the antivirus is different from the mission of the firewall. The antivirus software is a computer program used to avert, identify, and eliminate malware threats. Malicious software (malware) can take different forms, such as computer viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and adware. Antivirus protection programs use various strategies of searching and removing threats, including signature detecting.

A signature method is done by looking for known patterns in the executable code. Unfortunately, this scheme is useless against new malware threats whose signatures are not yet known.

To solve this problem, heuristic measures such as generic signatures were developed. Recently, cloud antivirus has become popular due to cloud computing and SaaS (software as a service) solutions developing. Therefore, it should be understood that antivirus is not designed to protect your PC from outside attacks.

Firewall and Antivirus Combination

So, it is evident that both antivirus and firewalls seem to be similar because they both serve as security tools for PC and networks, but they have differences. Actually, network firewalls will block access to the system for unidentified programs and processes. But the difference is that, in contrast to virus protective programs, they don’t try to detect and eliminate any threats.

A network firewall can reliably stop or restrict infection reaching the protected device. It can curtail the malicious activity of an already infected computer by blocking unwanted incoming and outgoing traffic. But a network firewall can never replace antivirus software because their responsibilities (or roles) are entirely different.

A firewall is designed to protect against a broader range of system threats than antivirus software. The use of antivirus and firewall combination will significantly increase the security of any Internet activities and protect your sensitive data and correspondence.

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