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Firewall vs. Antivirus: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business

February 14, 2023 - Cybersecurity & Compliance

Firewall vs. Antivirus: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business
Matt Weber

Posted by Matt Weber

Businesses need to protect themselves from the ever-evolving threat landscape. A cybersecurity strategy is essential for any organization, and every holistic approach needs to include firewalls and antivirus software.

Before diving deeper into the key differences, let's define firewalls and antivirus software.

As you learn more about firewalls and antivirus software, keep in mind that SymQuest offers clients a comprehensive managed cybersecurity solution - SafetyNet Defender.

The holistic cybersecurity package includes several best-in-breed solutions and support from experienced technicians who will manage your edge security infrastructure, establishing a security posture baseline, that will proactively adapt to new threats using extensive threat research, AI, and machine learning. Key features include:

  • Geoblocking
  • Network antivirus
  • Logging
  • Automated reporting
  • Report review
  • Firmware management
  • Critical vulnerability patching

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a security system that helps protect your network from outside threats. It acts as a barrier between trusted internal networks and untrusted external networks. Firewalls can control data flow in and out of your system by checking incoming requests against established security rules.

Here are a few key benefits:

  • Increased Privacy - A firewall can help keep your data safe by blocking unauthorized access to your network.
  • Better Control Over Access - Firewalls provide granular control over who has access to which parts of your system.
  • Advanced Port Forwarding - Many firewalls include powerful port forwarding tools that allow you to regulate traffic in and out of your network.

What is a Next-Generation Firewall? - Benefits of Going a Step Further

Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is a dynamic piece of hardware that merges the traditional filtering function of a firewall with additional network security features. Examples of other security features include:

  • Sandboxing
  • Content filtering
  • SSL inspection
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Advanced malware protection
  • Intrusion protection and detection
  • Network-based antivirus protection

NGFWs perform additional analysis on traffic flows to detect malicious activity more quickly and accurately. This makes them more effective at preventing intrusions, data breaches, and other cyber threats than traditional firewalls. Plus, the additional layers of protection provided by an NGFW help ensure your system is secure from all angles. 

Here's a video from our strategic partner, Fortinet, explaining the benefits of NGFWs.

What is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software is a program that helps protect your computer from malicious software, such as viruses, worms, and Trojans. Antivirus software scans your system for known threats and can delete suspicious programs. 

Here are a few key benefits:

  • Proactive Identification of Malicious Activities - Antivirus software can detect and identify malicious activities on your network before they cause harm.
  • Malware Removal Capabilities - Antivirus software can remove malware from your computer, preventing it from causing further damage.
  • Real-Time Scanning - Antivirus software scans your system for threats in real time, ensuring you are always protected against the latest threats.

What's the Difference Between Firewalls and Antivirus Software?

The main difference between firewalls and antivirus software is their purpose. Whereas firewalls are designed to prevent unauthorized access by controlling data flow in and out of your network, antivirus software is designed to detect malicious activity within your system. Firewalls are typically used in conjunction with antivirus software to provide a holistic approach to cybersecurity. By combining the two, businesses can protect themselves from external and internal threats.

A table explaining the differences between firewalls and antivirus software.

Firewalls and Antivirus Software: A Holistic Approach to Cybersecurity

Combining firewalls with antivirus software creates a holistic cybersecurity approach that can better protect businesses from external and internal threats. By understanding the differences between firewalls and antivirus software and their benefits and key features, businesses can create an effective cybersecurity strategy to help keep them safe from the ever-evolving threat landscape. With a comprehensive solution, businesses can be assured they're taking proactive steps toward protecting their networks.

Organizations interested in reducing their attack surface should request a network assessment from an experienced managed security provider. A network assessment from SymQuest will uncover network vulnerabilities and reveal solutions for strengthening and improving your IT network infrastructure. 

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Matt Weber

about the author

Matt Weber

Matt Weber is SymQuest's Security Services Manager. Drawing on over 17 years of experience within the IT sector, Weber is passionate about partnering with businesses the necessary services and solutions to stay ahead of the curve in their security posture to keep the bad actors at bay and their businesses thriving.