Hardware or software firewall? There are two types of firewalls: hardware and software. Your router, for example, operates your hardware firewall, while Windows has a software firewall, or to put it in Greek, a software firewall. There are other third-party firewalls that you can install but today we will talk about the two mentioned above.
In August 2003, if you were connecting to a Windows XP system without a firewall, would fall victim to the Blaster worm within minutes. The worm exploited vulnerabilities in the network services that Windows XP used to connect to the Internet.
So in addition to the necessary installation of all security updates, the use of a firewall is considered necessary, especially on Windows computers. But do you need a software firewall if you use a router, which is considered a hardware firewall?
How routers work like hardware firewalls
Home routers use a network address translation (or NAT from network address translation) function to share an IP address from the Internet service you use on your home devices.
When incoming traffic from the Internet reaches your router, and the router does not know the computer to which it will forward it, it will reject the traffic. In fact, NAT acts as a firewall that prevents incoming requests from entering your computer. Depending on the router you are using, you may be able to block certain types of outbound traffic by changing the device settings.
How Software Firewalls Work
A software firewall runs on your computer to allow or reject incoming traffic. Windows itself has a built-in software firewall by default from the era of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Because software firewalls work on your computer, they can monitor which applications request to use the Internet and block or allow traffic per application.
If you connect your computer directly to the Internet, it is important that you use a software firewall. Applying Windows firewalls is enough.
Hardware Firewall or Software Firewall
Hardware and software firewalls can:
Prevent unwanted incoming traffic by default, protecting vulnerable network services.
They block certain types of outbound traffic. (Although this feature may not be available on some routers.)
Advantages of a software firewall:
A hardware firewall is placed between your computer and the Internet, and a Software Firewall is located between your computer and the network. If other computers on your network become infected, the software firewall can protect your computer.
Software firewalls allow you to easily control network access per application. In addition to controlling incoming traffic, a software firewall can alert you when an application on your computer wants to connect to the Internet and allow you to block it.
Advantages of a hardware firewall:
A hardware firewall is not inside your computer but outside it. So if you are infected with a worm, the malware may turn off the software firewall but not the hardware firewall.
Hardware firewalls can provide central network management. So if your network is large, you can configure your firewall settings more easily from a single device. This also prevents users from changing the settings on their computers.
Do you need both?
It is important to use at least one type of firewall, hardware or software. Routers and software firewalls often provide similar functions but each provides unique benefits.
If you already have a router and you have the Windows firewall enabled, you are more secure with no real cost in performance.
You do not have to use third-party firewall software to replace the Windows firewall, but you can if you want more and easier features.