Comparison of software vs. Hardware firewalls

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Comparison of software vs. Hardware firewalls

Security Technology


With the rise in the number of activities over the internet, we have various people and group who are up to no good in their operations. They engage in creating programs which are a threat to computers which log into specific sites on the web. It is the work of firewall to bar these harmful programs from installing into your computer.  Firewalls are classified into software and hardware firewall.

Software firewall

It is an application developed and installed into the computer by the manufacturer. Some of the functions carried out by software filter include state packet inspection, port filtering, and application level filtering. These applications will detect any connection to the internet or other devices through a network. After identifying this, they then filter the content and allow authorized content into the machine while blocking potentially harmful connections. Software firewall blocks both outgoing and incoming traffic so long as they are malicious.

Hardware firewall

Here a PC-like appliance is used to operate software that blocks unwanted traffic from outside. The firewall administrator determines what content accessed by all computers in an organization. For example, he can manipulate the rules and prevent all or some incoming traffic from a specific domain (Zhi-hong, Jian-zhen & Zhi-qiang, 2011).  If a group wishes to block the access to social media access by their machines, it is possible through this. The administrator can control both users and applications by the use of authorized user and authorized application category. Due to increase in the number of hackers and viruses, hardware firewall offers an essential adds on of updating your firewall appliance. A single update will protect all the computers connected to the network against these new threats. Additional firewall appliances are also available in the market to offer more protection to the PC.

Factors to consider

Both software and hardware firewall are equally important. Hardware or enterprise-class software should be used to block unwanted traffic from your network. On the other side, the software firewall should be updated on each PC to provide packet filtering. It might be difficult to decide on the type of firewall to go for, but it is simple. If you need one which is simple and easy to configure it is good to go for a hardware firewall (Indomino, 2007). But if you need a flexible one, the software firewall will suit you best.

Cost; hardware firewall is more expensive compared to the software methods. The charges are based on specific capacities such as the number of VPN, number of connections per second and overall throughput. On the other hand, enterprise-class software firewall has their rates base on the number of users. Where we have many users licensing all users is often uneconomical. Therefore the number of users involved will determine which route to take. When choosing the type of hardware firewall appliance to purchase, you need to know the traffic your users are going to encounter to provide them with the best protection.

Administration: firewall installed on a PC should meet the needs of the user. The Same configuration can be applied to more than users. Only those PCs which need specific attention should get additional protection. When many users are involved, it is tiresome and close to impossible to manage individual PC. One configuration can be done on more than one device to save time and prevent complications.

Web servers also need protection. To efficiently protect them a firewall is installed on another server. Installing a firewall on the same server you want to protect is often meaningless since it becomes part of the server, thus providing no protection. Use of firewall outside the server will prevent an attack from reaching the server.

 Types of firewalls

Packet filtering

It protects computers within an IP network. All the information shared under this connection is in the form of packets. A router which can be a standalone hardware or software running on UNIX or PC windows system provided the interconnection. A router receives information from the source and decides on the route the message will take to its destination (Zhi-hong, Jian-zhen & Zhi-qiang, 2011). The destination is sort by comparing the address of the packet with that of the destination. Through packet filtering, you can allow or disallow transfer of information based on the source address, destination address, and session and protocol being used to transfer the data. This method is important because you can protect the whole system from one point the router.

Proxy Firewall

They have proved to be the most secure firewalls so far. The proxy is an intermediary a connection of the computer to the proxy will trigger a new link as per the users’ request. The information on both sides of the firewall is compared to block intruding contents (2017 BullGuard, 2017). The proxy is located outside the network to filter, log, cache and requests from a client. Through proxy viruses and intruders are kept outside the system. Despite the perfect security, this method compromises on the speed and functionality of the computers in the network.

Circuit Level Gateways: it works almost similar to the proxy one. Here it involves a computer within a protected network and another one outside the system. Accessing information from the unprotected PC the request is sent via the firewall (PCSTATS, 2017). At the source of the requested information, only the address of the firewall is visible. The desired data is sent to the firewall which compares it with the address of the request before completing the transfer.


Viruses are very destructive to the computer. In the modern world, we have new computer viruses introduced to the internet daily. To keep your PC or network safe, you need to choose a firewall which best suits you best. Before deciding on the type of firewall to install or purchase a proper study of your needs and predicted risks is essential. Cost as well is a crucial consideration.



2017 BullGuard. (2017, January 01). Don’t let then infect your devices (How Proxy Firewalls Work). Retrieved from BullGuard:

Indomino. (2007, JUne 01). Choosing the right Firewall: Hardware or Software Firewall. Retrieved from

PCSTATS. (2017, January 01). Beginners Guide: Firewall and Internet Security (Page 5). Retrieved from PCSTATS:

Zhi-hong, L., Jian-zhen, L., & Zhi-qiang, L. (2011). System Recovery Testing of Hardware Firewall. Procedia Engineering15, 4574-4578.

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