Firewalls and antivirus solutions are both vital components of a corporate cybersecurity strategy, yet they are distinct solutions designed for very different purposes. A firewall is primarily a network security solution designed to filter the traffic entering or leaving a protected network or endpoint, while an antivirus is primarily an endpoint security solution designed to inspect files and software running on a host or server.
Firewalls come in a few different forms. All firewalls have packet filtering capabilities, where they inspect the headers of network packets and apply rules based on those headers. For example, a packet-filtering firewall could block traffic from a particular IP address or only allow devices within the protected network to access certain services.
Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) integrate additional security capabilities on top of packet filtering. For example, NGFWs commonly integrate intrusion prevention system (IPS) functionality, which provides protection against brute-force password guessing, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, or exploitation of vulnerabilities in the applications behind the firewall.
A modern NGFW is designed to protect against many of the threats that companies face today. In addition to packet-filtering capabilities, an NGFW’s capabilities commonly include the following:
This wide range of built-in functionality enables NGFWs to provide strong protection against cyber threats. It also provides additional benefits:
Antivirus programs commonly use signature detection to identify malware on a host or server. When a new malware variant is identified, security researchers extract unique identifiers or a signature for the malware. This signature is then distributed to antivirus programs via signature updates. When an antivirus is inspecting a file, it compares it against its database of malware signatures. If it finds a match, then the antivirus may quarantine or delete the malware based on the endpoint security policy.
Antivirus programs are designed to protect endpoints against malware. Some of the key benefits that they provide include:
Firewalls and antiviruses are both designed to protect an organization’s systems against cyber threats. However, they have a few key differences, including:
Firewalls and antivirus solutions protect the organization against cyber threats in different ways. An effective defense-in-depth strategy integrates both, using firewalls with integrated anti-virus to prevent most threats at the network boundary. For more granular device-level controls, an endpoint security solution that automatically remediates malware that makes it onto an endpoint can also provide a deeper forensic analysis of how the malware infection occurs and operates. Learn more about securing the endpoint in this buyer’s guide to endpoint security.
Check Point’s NGFWs provide multilayered protection against cyber threats which includes integrated anti-virus. In addition to NGFW functionality, Check Point firewalls also integrate sandboxing functionality to identify unknown and zero-day malware and Content Disarm & Reconstruction (CDR) technology which removes active content from files. This provides users with safe files in seconds while the file is run and analyzed in a virtual sandbox in the background for malicious behavior.
Learn more about selecting an NGFW to meet your organization’s needs in this buyer’s guide to NGFWs. Then, feel free to sign up for a free demo to see the capabilities of Check Point NGFWs for yourself.