Last time we compared the effectiveness and the practical applications of the hardware firewall and the software firewall. This time, we’re going to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of antivirus applications and firewall.
We’ve already covered the main aspects of a firewall, but let’s try to look at it put side by side with an antivirus.
The mail goal of a firewall is to handle data traffic security. It makes sure that no malicious data enters your computer and that no sensitive information leaves your computer without your permission. It acts as a prevention system, meant to intercept and attack before it can do any damage. If anything, you can compare it to border patrol, a security team that checks every package going both in and out.
If the firewall is border patrol, the antivirus is the Immigration Bureau.
The antivirus handles detection and the purge of any threats that have breached through the firewall and have taken residence on a local machine. The reasons for the successful breach can vary, anything from a “false passport” that masks the true malicious identity of the data package that infiltrates your computer to a perfectly stealthy intrusion that goes complete unnoticed.
The antivirus can be seen as a fallback, a second line of defense. In the worst case scenario in which the firewall is bypassed, disaster can still be avoided through the antivirus’ vigilance.
But what are the disadvantages of the two systems?
By analyzing every package that goes in and out of your computer, the firewall can break traffic flow. A bottleneck is formed where all this information is scrutinized. This can affect the speed at which data enters and leaves your computer. Even if the actual internet traffic speed is not actually hampered in anyway, the outgoing and incoming information flow is slowed, even more so if the firewall prompts the user for a decision.
The disadvantages of the antivirus lie in offline activity. Because the antivirus works under the assumption that something got pass the firewall, it means that it needs to constantly check your files and folders for possible “aliens.” This can slow down all the activity performed by a computer, because a large amount of hardware resources need to be dedicated to this activity.
Most antivirus programs come with a built-in firewall, but there are specialized applications that offer stand-alone security solutions. Forfeiting one in favor of the other can increase the operating speed of a computer, but just like in armor smiting, a balance needs to be found between defense and mobility. However, if one can choose to go with just a firewall and without an antivirus, the opposite is not recommended.
Without a firewall infection is guaranteed. The antivirus might be able to handle it, but until he finds the threat, the virus can operate and cause serious damage. There are plenty of viruses that are designed to act as a “sleeper agent.” They infect a system, but they do not immediately attack the system. In turn, they perform various subtle actions that are not aggressive enough to alert the antivirus. In time, these covert actions serve to corrupt and neutralize the antivirus, culminating with one devastating attack.
So always keep a firewall alive and kicking.