What is a Hardware Firewall? How It Keeps You Secure (2022)

What is a Hardware Firewall?

A hardware firewall is a physical device similar to a server that filters traffic to a computer. Instead of plugging the network cable into the server, it is connected to the firewall, positioning the firewall between the uplink and the computer. Like a standard computer with a processor, memory, and sophisticated software, this device also employs powerful networking components (hardware and software) and forces all traffic traversing that connection to be inspected by configurable rulesets which grant or deny access accordingly.

Everyone who has ever used a computer can probably tell you a story about being blocked by a firewall. As good Internet citizens, we encounter firewalls all the time, usually in the form of a software firewall running on a personal laptop or workstation. Their function is surprisingly modest. They inspect traffic as it enters and leaves the computer and, based on some simple rules, either allow or deny that traffic.

Some common examples of software firewalls you may be familiar with are:

  • Windows Firewall.
  • UFW.
  • IPTables.
  • FirewallD.

A hardware firewall operates similarly except it lives outside of the server.

Need help securing your entire infrastructure? Download the Complete Security Infrastructure Checklist for SMBs.

How Does a Hardware Firewall Work?

The hardware firewall is set up differently depending on your current configuration. The firewall is situated outside your server and is connected directly to your uplink. If this is a new setup, the firewall is then connected to your server. If this is a new setup to a production server, a maintenance window would be scheduled to handle the physical connection. Once the connection to the server is established, all traffic to and from the server goes through the firewall, forcing it to pass inspection. This allows you to have granular control over the type of traffic you’re receiving, which is incredibly important in order to keep your device protected from malware of any kind.

Why Do You Need a Hardware Firewall?

A hardware firewall works as a filter between a computer network and the Internet. It monitors data packets and determines whether they should be blocked or transferred during transmission.

Network Protection

A hardware firewall is used to protect the entire network along with incoming and outcoming traffic. It gives network administrators the ability to control the way the network is being used. Furthermore, a hardware-based firewall can protect other network devices like scanners that don’t have integrated firewalls.

Integration

A hardware firewall easily integrates with other forms of security. Besides, in most cases, physical firewalls come with supplementary security features like a virtual private network (VPN). With a managed VPN connection, you can have the security and control to grant access to the people who need secure access anywhere there’s a stable Internet connection.

Learn more about exactly what a VPN (or a VPN tunnel) is at Liquid Web's Knowledge Base.

(Video) What is a Firewall?

Autonomy

Even though hardware firewalls are not easy to manage, you don’t have to worry about updates and unexpected crashes since they do have built-in 24/7 protection. However, hardware firewalls do require monitoring and maintenance.

Resources

A hardware firewall protects the whole network. There is no need to install it on every device separately, which saves a great amount of time and resources.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hardware Firewall

What is a Hardware Firewall? How It Keeps You Secure (1)

Five Advantages of a Hardware Firewall

Here are the five advantages of a hardware firewall:

1. Traffic Control

A hardware firewall will decide which traffic should and shouldn’t reach your server.

2. Default Rules

A fully configurable list of default rules which can be applied to all traffic when using a hardware firewall.

3. Port Access

A hardware firewall grants granular control to tailor rules with options like allowing all traffic to your website or ensuring only you and your developer can access SSH ports or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

4. Managed Equals Control on the Fly

A fully managed hardware firewall gives you access to a fully staffed networking team to configure, troubleshoot, or adjust controls on the fly.

(Video) Hardware Firewall vs Software Firewall | Network Security | TechTerms

5. Additional Server Resources

A hardware firewall gives you access to additional server resources that would otherwise be utilized since it is a completely separate device from your server. You can even disable the software firewalls from your server and rely completely on the hardware firewall, freeing up valuable memory and processing power for the functions and services that your business needs to continue being successful.

5 Disadvantages of a Hardware Firewall

Here are a few considerations to be made if you are thinking about using a hardware firewall:

1. Higher Cost

Compared to software firewalls, a hardware-based firewall usually costs more.

2. Requires Expert Setup

This type of firewall requires a certain level of experience to set up and configure.

3. Monitors Incoming Traffic Only

Hardware firewalls are used for incoming traffic only. They won’t check the traffic coming from your device, which can lead to infection of the entire network.

4. Takes Up Physical Space

A hardware-based firewall is a separate physical device that requires space for itself and connected wires.

5. Requires Monitoring

Hardware firewalls have built-in 24/7 protection; however, they require a high level of monitoring and maintenance.

Hardware Firewall Examples

The firewall market allows you to choose the firewall based on your needs and budget. We have collected some of the most popular firewall solutions in the list below:

Cisco ASA 5500-X

Cisco presented the first threat-focused, next-generation firewall and is a leading brand when it comes to firewalls. The ASA 5500-X comes with Cisco ASA firewall protection combined with industry-leading Sourcefire threat and advanced malware protection in a single device.

Key Features:

  • Multilayered protection.
  • Granular visibility and control.
  • Cisco AnyConnect remote access.
(Video) Lec-85: What is Firewalls and How it Works | Packet Filtering firewall explained in Hindi Part-1

Bitdefender BOX

Bitdefender's technology has pioneered breakthrough innovations in antimalware, behavioral analytics, and artificial intelligence. The Bitdefender BOX comes bundled with a Bitdefender Total Security subscription which allows you to monitor inbound traffic – defending your network against potential hacks or intrusions – as well as outgoing traffic, blocking things like requests to known malicious sites or sending sensitive data (such as a password) over an insecure connection.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited protection and support.
  • Parental control.
  • Cross-platform security.

Checkpoint

The Checkpoint solutions secure customers from Gen V cyber attacks by catching malware, ransomware, and other sorts of attacks at an industry-leading rate. Because these attacks are quick, multi-vectored, and extremely harmful, it's critical to provide an extra layer of security in addition to real-time threat prevention. Check Point firewall protects virtual instances, cloud deployments, endpoints, remote offices, and mobile devices with a single architecture and powerful threat prevention technologies in real time.

Key Features:

  • Unified management platform.
  • Ultra-scalable protection against Gen V cyber attacks.
  • Remote access VPN.

Fortinet

Fortinet is the only security company that develops and manufactures custom security processing unit technology in order to provide the best performance and cost value in the industry. Fortinet’s firewall provides industry-leading enterprise security for any edge at any scale with full visibility and threat protection.

Key Features:

  • Ultra-fast security, end to end.
  • Operational efficiency and automated workflows.
  • Real-time defense with FortiGuard Services.

Netgear ProSAFE

The Netgear company is known as an enterprise cybersecurity service provider that offers storage, network, and security solutions at affordable prices. This firewall router comes with a stateful packet inspection firewall, Denial of Service protection, and intrusion detection.

Key Features:

  • Real-time alerts.
  • 8 simultaneous VPN tunnels.
  • Easy-to-use browser-based setup.

Which is Better: Hardware Firewalls vs Software Firewalls?

Both types of security firewalls are used to provide a secure connection between the local network and the Internet. The choice is mainly based on the user’s needs and financial capabilities.

We have outlined some major differences between software and hardware firewalls below:

(Video) Do You Need to Get a Hardware Firewall?

What is a Hardware Firewall? How It Keeps You Secure (2)

Why Choose a Hardware Firewall

Businesses are more likely to require a hardware firewall. It provides protection for your entire network through a single, standalone physical device, which means it also does not use server resources. However, while it does not require updates, it does require a dedicated specialist to install and manage. Also, a hardware firewall requires monitoring and has a higher cost than using a software firewall solution.

Why Choose a Software Firewall

A software firewall is far more likely to be used for personal use, although there are certainly business applications. Software firewalls protect a single device, so if you plan to use software firewalls to protect your entire network, it will need to be installed on each device. It is easier to install and less expensive than a hardware firewall and includes automatic monitoring. However, regular manual updates are necessary to keep protected from the latest threats, and it does use server resources since it is not on a standalone device.

Which Kind of Firewall is Right For You?

As you consider whether a hardware or software firewall is the right choice for your business, do not think about this as a simple installation. Instead, think of a firewall as a door lock. The better you want to protect yourself, the more it will cost.

We have composed a list of questions that you must consider as you choose between a software and hardware firewall:

  • Is this firewall for personal or business use?
  • How many devices do you want to protect?
  • What is your budget for the firewall?
  • How much granular control over traffic do you need?
  • What are your top security threats?
  • Do you have remote employees?
  • Do you have a dedicated IT department that can take care of installation and maintenance?

Based on your answers, Liquid Web’s Support can help you set up your first firewall and utilize the best firewall rule practices to secure your system on each level.

Get Secure with a Hardware Firewall at Liquid Web Today

Liquid Web is a proud Cisco shop and stocks several versions of their hardware firewall devices. These devices are also powerful enough to handle traffic from multiple servers, including dedicated servers. We also employ a full staff of dedicated networking professionals 24/7/365 who can manage and maintain your fully managed networking infrastructure.

Cisco ASA 5508-X

Cisco ASA is a combination of firewall, antivirus, intrusion prevention, and virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. It provides proactive threat defense that stops attacks before they spread through the network. In addition, the Cisco ASA model performs functions of antivirus, antispam, content inspection, VPN, and SSL device

Cisco FPR 2110

Cisco FPR is a next-generation firewall line that expands the features of the ASA model. FPR’s automated updates mechanism will enhance consistent network visibility. If you are looking for a top-notch security solution, you should try our advanced malware protection to simultaneously protect your network and endpoints from online threats such as malicious firmware.

Contact us now to get started with a new firewall.

Unsure if Your Systems are Secure? Download Our Security Infrastructure Checklist for SMBs Now.
(Video) Hardware firewall advantages and placement

FAQs

What is a hardware firewall? ›

A hardware firewall is a physical appliance that is deployed to enforce a network boundary. All network links crossing this boundary pass through this firewall, which enables it to perform inspection of both inbound and outbound network traffic and enforce access controls and other security policies.

What is firewall short answer? ›

A Firewall is a network security device that monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization's previously established security policies. At its most basic, a firewall is essentially the barrier that sits between a private internal network and the public Internet.

What is a hardware firewall example? ›

A Hardware Firewall is a physical device or a set of physical devices which act as the first line of defence for a computer network. A very basic hardware Firewall example is a router that is normally used in most of the households with Wi-Fi Fibernet connections.

Why you need a hardware firewall? ›

A hardware firewall is used to protect the entire network along with incoming and outcoming traffic. It gives network administrators the ability to control the way the network is being used. Furthermore, a hardware-based firewall can protect other network devices like scanners that don't have integrated firewalls.

Which hardware firewall is the best? ›

Top 10 Firewall Hardware Devices in 2022
  1. Bitdefender BOX. ...
  2. Cisco Firepower. ...
  3. CUJO AI Smart Internet Security Firewall. ...
  4. Fortinet FortiGate® 6000F Series. ...
  5. Netgear ProSAFE. ...
  6. Palo Alto Networks PA-7000 Series. ...
  7. Netgate pfSense Security Gateway Appliances. ...
  8. SonicWall Network Security Firewalls.
10 Jun 2022

Which firewall most secure? ›

Out of the three firewall types, a proxy firewall is the most secure.

What is a firewall and how does it work? ›

Firewalls are network security systems that prevent unauthorized access to a network. It can be a hardware or software unit that filters the incoming and outgoing traffic within a private network, according to a set of rules to spot and prevent cyberattacks. Firewalls are used in enterprise and personal settings.

What is firewall and how it helps to protect the network? ›

Firewalls provide protection against outside cyber attackers by shielding your computer or network from malicious or unnecessary network traffic. Firewalls can also prevent malicious software from accessing a computer or network via the internet.

Why is it called firewall? ›

The term firewall originally referred to a wall intended to confine a fire within a line of adjacent buildings. Later uses refer to similar structures, such as the metal sheet separating the engine compartment of a vehicle or aircraft from the passenger compartment.

Where is the hardware firewall located? ›

A hardware firewall can be a computer or a dedicated piece of equipment which serve as a firewall. Hardware firewall are incorporated into the router that is situated between the computer and the internet gateway.

How do I make a hardware firewall? ›

The hardware used for my gateway firewall consists of the following:
  1. An old Pentium 3.
  2. 256MB of PC100 RAM.
  3. Two 100/10baseT(X) NICs (one on-board)
  4. 50GB IDE hard drive.
  5. Generic IDE CD-ROM drive.
  6. An old junker desktop ATX case.
  7. 300W PSU.
  8. Some Cat5/5e/6 ethernet cable.

What is the difference between hardware and software firewalls? ›

The difference between hardware and software firewall is this: A hardware firewall protects you from the outside world, and a software firewall protects a specific device from other internal systems. For example, if someone tries to access your systems from the outside, your physical firewall will block them.

How can a firewall help you? ›

A firewall can help protect your computer and data by managing your network traffic. It does this by blocking unsolicited and unwanted incoming network traffic. A firewall validates access by assessing this incoming traffic for anything malicious like hackers and malware that could infect your computer.

Do you need a firewall on your computer? ›

Firewalls ensure a safe connection when connecting to the internet. Firewall safeguards come installed on every Mac, Windows PC, and router. Businesses include a software firewall on all employee computers as well as on their network as a whole, to protect company communications.

How much is a hardware firewall? ›

Generally, the hardware for a firewall will start somewhere in the $700 range for a very small business and can easily get into the $10,000 range. However, most business sized 15 to 100 users can expect the hardware of the firewall to cost between $1500 and $4000.

Does a firewall protect against hackers? ›

Firewalls can come in the form of physical hardware or software running on workstations or servers. Both forms of firewalls act as a filtration system, blocking malicious traffic such as viruses, malware and hackers.

How do I choose a firewall? ›

7 Key Points to Consider When Purchasing a New Firewall
  1. Visibility & Control Of Your Applications. ...
  2. Protection and Prevention From Threats. ...
  3. Legitimate 1 Gigabit Throughput. ...
  4. It's About Your Devices Not IP Addresses. ...
  5. Remote Users. ...
  6. Streamlined Security Infrastructure. ...
  7. Cost.
1 Feb 2017

How many types of firewall explain it? ›

There are mainly three types of firewalls, such as software firewalls, hardware firewalls, or both, depending on their structure. Each type of firewall has different functionality but the same purpose. However, it is best practice to have both to achieve maximum possible protection.

How do I protect my firewall? ›

Turn Microsoft Defender Firewall on or off
  1. Select Start , then open Settings . ...
  2. Select a network profile: Domain network, Private network, or Public network.
  3. Under Microsoft Defender Firewall, switch the setting to On. ...
  4. To turn it off, switch the setting to Off.

How are firewalls made? ›

Firewalls are fire-resistant structures -- usually made of concrete, concrete blocks, or reinforced concrete -- designed to restrict the spread of fire by means of compartmentalization. The key defining feature of firewalls are their structural independence.

What is the difference between hardware and software firewall? ›

The difference between hardware and software firewall is this: A hardware firewall protects you from the outside world, and a software firewall protects a specific device from other internal systems. For example, if someone tries to access your systems from the outside, your physical firewall will block them.

What are the 4 major types of firewalls? ›

Four Types of Firewalls
  • Packet Filtering Firewalls. Packet filtering firewalls are the oldest, most basic type of firewalls. ...
  • Circuit-Level Gateways. ...
  • Stateful Inspection Firewalls. ...
  • Application-Level Gateways (Proxy Firewalls)
4 Nov 2020

How do I make a hardware firewall? ›

The hardware used for my gateway firewall consists of the following:
  1. An old Pentium 3.
  2. 256MB of PC100 RAM.
  3. Two 100/10baseT(X) NICs (one on-board)
  4. 50GB IDE hard drive.
  5. Generic IDE CD-ROM drive.
  6. An old junker desktop ATX case.
  7. 300W PSU.
  8. Some Cat5/5e/6 ethernet cable.

How does a firewall work? ›

A firewall is a security device in the form of computer hardware or software. It can help protect your network by acting as an intermediary between your internal network and outside traffic. It monitors attempts to gain access to your operating system and blocks unwanted incoming traffic and unrecognized sources.

What is firewall and its types? ›

A firewall is a type of cybersecurity tool used to filter traffic on a network. Firewalls can separate network nodes from external traffic sources, internal traffic sources, or even specific applications. Firewalls can be software, hardware, or cloud-based, with each type of firewall having unique pros and cons.

How many types of firewall explain it? ›

There are mainly three types of firewalls, such as software firewalls, hardware firewalls, or both, depending on their structure. Each type of firewall has different functionality but the same purpose. However, it is best practice to have both to achieve maximum possible protection.

Where is the hardware firewall located? ›

A hardware firewall can be a computer or a dedicated piece of equipment which serve as a firewall. Hardware firewall are incorporated into the router that is situated between the computer and the internet gateway.

What is hardware and software with example? ›

Hardware refers to the physical and visible components of the system such as a monitor, CPU, keyboard and mouse. Software, on the other hand, refers to a set of instructions which enable the hardware to perform a specific set of tasks.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hardware firewall? ›

The advantage of hardware-based firewalls is that they provide an additional line of defense against attacks reaching desktop computing systems. The disadvantage is that they are separate devices that require trained professionals to support their configuration and maintenance.

What are the 2 main types of firewalls? ›

The most common firewall types based on methods of operation are: Packet-filtering firewalls. Proxy firewalls.

Which firewall feature is used? ›

Packetfiltering can be used to permit or deny access to resources based on IP or MACaddress. Application filtering can permit or deny access based on port number. URL filtering is used to permit or deny access based on URL or on keywords.

How are firewalls made? ›

Firewalls are fire-resistant structures -- usually made of concrete, concrete blocks, or reinforced concrete -- designed to restrict the spread of fire by means of compartmentalization. The key defining feature of firewalls are their structural independence.

How do I secure my firewall? ›

7 Firewall Best Practices for Securing Your Network
  1. Block traffic by default and monitor user access. ...
  2. Establish a firewall configuration change plan. ...
  3. Optimize the firewall rules of your network. ...
  4. Update your firewall software regularly. ...
  5. Have a centralized management tool for multi-vendor firewalls.

Do I need a hardware firewall at home? ›

It can be an important part of a security system that prevents outside threats from infecting your devices with malware―including viruses, worms and ransomware. You can buy and install special hardware firewalls for your home, but a dedicated hardware firewall isn't necessary for most people.

How do you manage firewall? ›

Best practices for firewall management
  1. Block all access by default. When configuring a firewall, it's important to start by blocking access to the network from all traffic. ...
  2. Regularly audit firewall rules and policies. ...
  3. Keep the firewall up-to-date. ...
  4. Keep track of authorized users.

Videos

1. What Is A Firewall? | Firewall Explained | Firewalls and Network Security | Simplilearn
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2. Firewall limitations - Software and Hardware - Disadvantages| Network Security | TechTerms
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3. What is Firewall? Good or Bad? Explained in Detail
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4. What exactly is a firewall? how does a firewall work? - 5 basic firewall types (2021)
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