Difference between Firewall and Anti-virus

Both Firewall and Antivirus are security tools that protect the computer systems as well as the network infrastructure from virus, worms, Trojans, and other such cyber-threats.

Firewalls scan and evaluate the data packets before they enter into a network, and then they either allow or deny the data packets based on certain predefined rules setup by the network protocols.

Firewalls can be implemented both at the software and hardware levels, while an antivirus program can be implemented only at the software level.

Read through this article to know more about Firewall and Antivirus and how they are different from each other.

What is an Antivirus?

An Antivirus software is a program that scans a computer for viruses, worms, and other malware and identifies, stops, and eliminates them. Most antivirus software include an auto-update feature to download the updated virus profiles and check for new threats.

Every computer should have an antivirus software, but choosing the appropriate one is critical. One antivirus program may detect a virus or worm that another does not, or vice versa.

An Antivirus normally scans a computer's hard drive and external media for any potential viruses or worms. In general, there are two main ways to detect the presence of a virus −

  • Dictionary Approach − When antivirus software scans a file, it automatically consults a virus dictionary. The file is removed, quarantined, or repaired if there is a match.

  • Suspicious Behaviour Approach − Antivirus software analyzes all program behavior and flags any suspicious activity. An application may be reported if it tries to change the operating system settings or write to a specific directory.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that can be set up to restrict data from specific sites, programs, or ports while allowing relevant and necessary data to come through.

Firewalls block unauthorized access to or from networks with varying levels of trust. They prevent hostile actors from getting access to private networks connected to the Internet by implementing security policies. A firewall can be set up using hardware, software, or a mix of the two.

Zero Trust policies can be used in conjunction with perimeter firewalls to ensure that network access is allowed appropriately and securely at every access layer of the OSI Model. Firewalls are sometimes dismissed as antiquated because they are created to secure a network's perimeter, but in truth, they are critical components of Zero Trust Architectures (ZTAs).

Difference between Firewall and Antivirus

On the basis of the vulnerabilities, following are the main differences between a Firewall and an Antivirus.

Key Firewall Antivirus
Definition A Firewall can be defined as a special type of router or interface which examines all data packets entering or leaving a network. These data packets must pass through the firewall, which examines the data and decides whether to allow them or not. An Antivirus is a type of software that scans, spots, and inhibits any apprehensive or distrustful files and software from getting into the system.
Implementation A system's firewall can be implemented at both the software and hardware levels; therefore, it can be done either way. An Antivirus can only be implemented at the software level; no implementation at the hardware level is feasible.
Responsibility A Firewall is responsible for authorization of data that is passed to the system from external sources, so its primary task is to Monitor and Filter. An Antivirus is responsible for scanning corrupt files and software that has been installed or going to be installed in the system which may get the system to slow down or fail.
Scalability Firewalls are more scalable than anti-virus since they may be implemented at both the hardware and software levels. An Antivirus can only be implemented at the software level, making it less scalable than a firewall.
Threats Because firewalls deal primarily with exterior network interactions, they may be vulnerable to external threats such as IP spoofing and routing attacks. In case of an Antivirus, no such counter-attacks are possible after removing the malware.


Firewalls defend a network against external threats, denying unauthorized requests, transmissions, and connections to the network devices and application software from potential attackers such as hackers. The fundamental duty of a Firewall is to monitor and filter data that is transmitted to the system from an external source.

The primary objective of an Antivirus is to scan corrupt files and software that have been installed or going to be installed a system, which can cause the system to slow down or fail.