A firewall and an antivirus are important tools used in computer security, but they serve different purposes. Understanding the difference between a firewall and an antivirus is essential in choosing the best protection for your computer or network.
NETLOGiX is a leading provider of antivirus and firewall products and services in South Africa. They provide reliable and effective security solutions that protect businesses from cyber threats and data breaches. With a comprehensive range of products and services, NETLOGiX can cater to businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises.
Antivirus and Firewall Software
A firewall, in essence, is a software or hardware security system that monitors and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predefined security rules. Its primary purpose is to prevent unauthorised access to or from a private network.
Firewalls can be either software-based, which runs on the computer, or hardware-based, installed between the computer network (called the trust side) and the internet connection (also referred to as the untrust side). Firewalls are primarily designed to block malicious traffic from entering the network, such as hacking attempts, malware, and viruses, but is also used as a monitoring and reporting tool for all traffic, both authorised as well as prohibited
Let’s say a business uses an online platform to store sensitive customer data, such as names, addresses, and credit card information. Without a firewall, the business’s network could be vulnerable to unauthorised access from outside sources, such as hackers or malware.
The business can significantly reduce the risk of such unauthorised access by implementing a firewall. The firewall can block all incoming traffic that is not authorised, preventing hackers or malware from gaining access to the network. It can also be configured to allow only authorised traffic to access the online platform where customer data is stored, further reducing the risk of data breaches.
On the other hand, an antivirus is software that detects, prevents, and removes malware from a computer. Malware is a catch-all term for malicious software, including viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and adware. Antivirus software uses signature-based detection, which means it compares the code of a potential threat to a database of known malware signatures.
Antivirus software also uses heuristics-based detection, which involves analysing the behaviour of a potential threat to determine if it is malicious. Antivirus software scans the computer regularly and in real-time, checking every downloaded, installed, or executed file.
Next generation Antivirus software has started utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to provide protection based on learned behaviour and predicted patterns, rather than historical threat signatures, but more of this in a later article.
Furthermore, the firewall can be configured to monitor all outgoing traffic, allowing the business to detect and block any unauthorised attempts to access customer data.
Antivirus Software Example
An employee at a business receives an email with an attachment that appears to be a legitimate document from a client. However, the attachment contains malware that can infect the employee’s computer and spread throughout the business’s network, potentially causing significant damage and data loss.
Without antivirus software, the malware may go undetected and be allowed to run rampant on the employee’s computer and potentially spread to other computers on the network. However, with antivirus software in place, the malicious code in the attachment can be quickly detected and removed before it has a chance to do any harm.
Antivirus software constantly scans files, emails, and other digital content for signs of malicious code. When it detects a threat, it will either remove the malware or quarantine it to prevent it from causing further damage.
In this case, the antivirus software would have detected the malware in the email attachment, preventing it from infecting the employee’s computer and spreading throughout the network. This would have saved the business from potential data loss, financial loss, and damage to its reputation.
How They Differ
The difference between a firewall and an antivirus can be understood in their approach to computer security. Firewalls control network traffic and prevent unauthorised access, while antiviruses focus on detecting and removing malware.
Firewalls can provide a higher level of security for a network but cannot protect against malware already entering the network. On the other hand, antiviruses are designed to detect and remove malware, but they cannot protect against unauthorised access to the network.
Another difference between a firewall and an antivirus is their level of customisation. Firewalls can be configured to allow or block specific types of network traffic, such as incoming or outgoing email, web browsing, or instant messaging.
Firewalls also allow administrators to specify the types of applications allowed to access the network, making it possible to control the risk posed by malicious software. On the other hand, antiviruses are designed to detect and remove malware but do not offer the same level of customisation as firewalls.
It is important to note that a firewall and an antivirus can complement each other in providing computer security. A firewall can help prevent malware from entering a network, while an antivirus can detect and remove malware already entering the network. A firewall and antivirus combination can provide a more comprehensive level of protection for a computer or network.
Various services, including risk assessments, vulnerability testing, and security audits, complement NETLOGiX’s antivirus and firewall products. These services are designed to help businesses identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities, and develop effective strategies to mitigate them.
The company’s security experts are always available to provide advice and support, ensuring that businesses can maintain optimal security levels at all times. NETLOGiX’s focus on delivering reliable and effective security solutions and its commitment to customer satisfaction has made it a popular choice for businesses across various industries.
Whether you are looking for basic antivirus protection or advanced firewall solutions, NETLOGiX has the products and services you need to protect your business from cyber threats and data breaches.