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Firewalls keep you safe from those acting maliciously to steal your private information. It’s the first and best line of defense outside of cybersecurity training for your staff. You have two options: hardware firewalls and software firewalls. Knowing the difference between the two is essential to choose your best option.  


A hardware firewall is physically placed between the computers on your network and the Internet. Data comes from the Internet to your network in packets, which the firewall is responsible for inspecting. It determines which packets are safe, allowing them through. Any packets it identifies as potentially dangerous are stopped from entering the network. Your hardware firewall works to protect your network from the outside world. 

Hardware firewalls require professional installation and upkeep to remain at their full function. The process involves finding the proper location, attaching all the correct plugs, and adding power. The upkeep requirement frequently means having a dedicated IT department to monitor the firewall. 


A hardware firewall offers significant protection for your network at its border, giving your network administrator a lot of authority over how the network is run. In addition, it can protect those devices that don’t have their own firewalls, such as printers.  

When upgraded, it applies to all computers on the network at once instead of requiring individual updates. Hardware firewalls also provide constant protection because they are always on and running unless you choose to power them off. They don’t have a monthly payment plan, so there’s no chance of a subscription issue.  

Unlike software firewalls, hardware firewalls can integrate with many other security features, making them even more beneficial to your business. It’s also a single point of entry for all data that makes managing the safety of your network much more efficient and cost-effective.  


A software firewall is installed on separate computers within the network. It can distinguish between the different apps on a computer, allowing it to filter what data goes to which app. Additionally, it can monitor and filter outgoing data from the computer and its apps. It can be configured to allow access for certain individuals to specific apps while others are restricted. 

Software firewalls require individual installation, administration, and updates on each one of your network’s computers. Because of this, it can be slightly more time-consuming to maintain them than hardware firewalls. 


Despite the need for more resources to manage software firewalls across a business, they are very beneficial as a secondary line of defense against cyberattacks. If malicious data manages to pass by a hardware firewall, having a software firewall in place can be the solution you need to stop the attack. Additionally, software firewalls are designed to prohibit activities identified as risky based on factors such as suspicious application requests and blacklisted IP addresses.  

There is generally a lower upfront investment required for a software firewall. Many companies offer a free trial period followed by a low monthly subscription fee. It doesn’t take up any physical space in your office or home. Unlike a hardware firewall, installation of a software firewall is generally a straightforward process that can be quick. 

For a computer to be protected by a hardware firewall, it must physically be on the network behind it. The same is not valid for a software firewall. Instead, it offers protection to remote users who do not receive the benefits of the hardware firewall. Software firewalls can also be modified to allow different users varying levels of access across workstations based on their credentials. 


While your company can achieve high levels of security and protection from a software or hardware firewall, you may find a combination is the best option. A software-hardware firewall combination offers the ultimate protection from malicious threats. The hardware firewall will protect the network at the perimeter, deterring dangerous data packets from entering. However, if any happens to get past the security of this filter, the software firewall will be prepared as a secondary measure to prevent a breach. 

Additionally, it’s important to remember that hardware and software firewalls protect you from different types of threats. Hardware firewalls are in place to stop the malware before it enters the network, while software firewalls inspect all network traffic allowed through the hardware firewall. A software-hardware firewall combination is an excellent way to combat all threats and keep your data safe. 


There are a myriad security protection products and processes to choose from these days so understanding the right plan for your business can save you not only money, but serious operational headaches in the long run. If you have questions or need help identifying the right firewall, contact us. We specialize in setting up security measures to keep you safe.