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Difference between antivirus and a firewall

by Cathy Houghton

How many times do our security and IT teams ask us to update our antivirus software? Check that the implemented firewall is still meeting our business needs and is configured appropriately.

Cybersecurity, like these questions, is ongoing and essential.

Essential to protect business data, information, and reputation.

This is where antivirus and firewalls come in. Both vital pieces of hardware and software working together to form a robust cyber security strategy (check out our page for information relating to Next Generation Firewalls).

Providing specific layers of protection and distinct solutions, in this post, we delve into the areas of firewalls and antivirus software further, exploring their differences and the benefits they offer.

Difference between antivirus and a firewall

Firewall and Antivirus

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a security system/shield that provides a wall between your internal network and external threats, identifying trusted and untrusted data and applying the right security protocol to each data packet.

These packet filtering capabilities allow you to apply set rules that are appropriate to your business, allowing you to block specific traffic from certain IP addresses.

For example, data will pass through a firewall, which, upon inspection, the firewall will decide whether or not to allow the data through.

Taking it one step further, are the Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW), including SonicWall firewalls. Dynamic hardware that provides everything a standard firewall offers and then adds more, protecting against password guessing, DoS attacks, and other application vulnerabilities.

This additional level of security is provided by features such as sandboxing, content filtering, SSL inspection, VPN, advanced malware protection, and intrusion protection and detection.

In addition, NGFW can also detect malicious activity quickly and with more precision. Providing network segmentation, access control, remote access VPN, email security, web security, and intrusion prevention systems, making it more effective than traditional firewalls.

Ultimately, a firewall controls the flow of data in and out of your business as you set boundaries between your private network and the public internet.

The benefits of choosing the right firewall type:

  • Increased privacy – a firewall will block unauthorised access
  • Control – you can control who can access what parts of your system
  • Regulate traffic – with port forwarding tools

Antivirus Software

Preventing harmful virus intrusion, one of the key differences between firewalls and antivirus software is antivirus software is a programme that protects your computer systems from viruses, worms, trojans, etc, by scanning your internal systems for threats and deleting or quarantining any suspicious programmes it comes across.

Antivirus software does require regular updating as new threats are found; however, this piece of software will continue to monitor and inspect files, compare against set malware signatures, and then if the system identifies a suspicious programme or a match with malware, the source can be quarantined or immediately deleted.

Providing a high level of security from internal and external threats, antivirus protects endpoints from malware, scanning and identifying so you can respond accordingly.

Firewall vs antivirus

One of the key differences between firewalls and antivirus software is purpose. The purpose of a firewall is to prevent unauthorised access, whereas the purpose of antivirus software is to detect malicious programmes and internal activity.

Firewalls help to stop hackers in their tracks, protecting sensitive information and defending against trojans, all without interfering with any of your system's functions.

Whereas antivirus software will conduct a detailed analysis of your system, blocking and removing malicious content, spam, and even adverts. By blocking spyware and phishing attempts, you can also restrict websites and eliminate damaged data. Antivirus software is also extremely cost-efficient.

Other differences between firewall and antivirus software include:


  • Deployed at endpoint
  • Manages both internal and external threats
  • Software only
  • Antivirus software is more straightforward to deploy
  • Inspects files and software on servers
  • Can't check `read-only` files
  • Identifies and removes malicious software
  • Scans in real-time
  • Removes weaknesses in computer systems


  • Deployed at network level
  • Programming is complex
  • Available as both hardware and software
  • Only manages external threats, meaning it can't protect against internal attacks
  • Filters and inspects all data packets
  • Inspects incoming data
  • Monitors and manages network traffic
  • Safeguards against any unwanted intrusion

Anti virus and firewall

To ensure that your business, data, and information are suitably protected, it's essential that you have both firewalls and antivirus protection to protect from both internal and external threats.

Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity is the best approach to maintaining high cybersecurity levels. At SonicWall, we help to create an effective strategy for you and your business, providing the right solutions that strengthen your network infrastructure.

With various types of SonicWall firewalls available, we're confident we have a solution that meets your business needs.

As the cyber world continues to grow, make sure to call us today on 0330 1340 230 or email your requirements to enquiries@sonicwall-sales.com.


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