Hardware Vs Software Firewall - Which One is Right for Your Business

Elaine Bennett

In this digital day and age of seamless global communication where sensitive data travels the world and is exchanged on a daily basis, you cannot afford to get hacked.

Not just for the sake of your brand’s reputation in the competitive market, but also for the sake of your customers. Cybersecurity has become a hot topic in the modern world with the rise of cyber-crime ranging from phishing scams to ransomware, all the way to organized cyber-attacks intended to weaken the competition and put your company at a disadvantage.

Remember, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and no matter if you are running a small business or a global enterprise, you should always remain vigilant and be prepared for the worst scenario. After all, within your computers’ storage units resides sensitive information many of your top competitors would pay handsomely to obtain.

This means that you need to have a strong, comprehensive firewall system in place that will protect your company from malicious intent. Here are tips that will help you figure out whether hardware or software firewalls are for you.

Defining the software firewall

Used primarily on private computers and laptops, software firewalls are the most common kind of cyber protection systems in the world. As the name implies, these are software-based solutions that come in the form of proprietary anti-virus software such as Microsoft Defender, Kaspersky, and many others.

A software firewall is easy to install on a computer and is affordable to boot.

Typically, these systems require little to no knowledge of computer firewalls, as they a user-friendly dashboard to make management and optimization a breeze. Complemented with comprehensive vendor support, you can easily manage your firewall settings to accommodate the needs of your personal computer.

However, these solutions are often suboptimal for business, as they do not offer the level of intricate security needed to deter the growing number of skilled hackers and surgical cyber-attacks. Before we move on to the concrete pros and cons, let’s define the hardware firewall first.

The essentials of hardware firewalls

The hardware firewall is the next-generation level of cyber security, and even though software-based solutions have their benefits, they cannot hope to compete with the added level of protection offered by the hardware firewall. The modern hardware firewall works on the basis of perimeter network monitoring in which the physical device is positioned between the router and the rest of the computing system in your company, effectively scanning all incoming and outgoing traffic as it connects to the router.

This means that before any traffic can reach your computers, it will first have to pass the hardware firewall checkpoint. Think of the device as the gatekeeper between the web and your business that doesn’t rely on the efficacy of your operating systems or any other software you might be using. These solutions are becoming increasingly popular in the modern business world simply due to their reliability and scalability.

Pros and cons of software solutions

Starting with the pros of software-based firewalls, these systems are usually very affordable. This makes them the go-to choice for individuals and small businesses that are looking to cut overheads and minimize expenditure across the board. Needless to say, this pro is also in of itself, a con. The price of the system means that it’s not well-suited to accommodate the needs of a growing business, or a network of computers.

This means that every computer has its own software firewall which may or may not break under pressure, which in turn means that any of your computers can come under attack at one point or another. While these systems usually come with out-of-the-box features and are ready to go the moment you install them, it also means that they are suited for general cybersecurity and not comprehensive protection.

Pros and cons of hardware solutions

In these cons of software, firewalls lie the biggest pros of hardware solutions. These firewalls are built with the needs of the business industry in mind, offering full scalability and easy management across the board. However, their greatest advantage is the level of business-wide protection they offer, as the device monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic for your entire business network.

This means that your entire computing infrastructure is protected by a single device with multiple layers of protection. What’s more, this negates the need to update the firewall on every single device as updates carry across the entirety of your infrastructure. Given the fact that these devices have their own operating systems, you can rest assured that the software inside is optimized for larger traffic volumes.

Lastly, seeing as how the device is its own separate entity that is not a part of your system, it’s not a drain on resources like a software-based solution. This means that the performance of your computer network will not suffer due to the requirements of your firewall system.

When it comes to its drawbacks, it’s important to know that the hardware firewall is an investment. It will usually come with a higher price tag than its software-based counterpart, but the benefits might prove to be worth the expense. Another con is that the hardware firewall needs to be maintained by a skilled and professional team, as maintenance and repair are processes that require an experienced approach. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be an issue if your provider offers managed IT services.


Both the software and the hardware firewall solutions have their pros and cons, however, when it comes to business solutions, the hardware firewall is the most cost-effective option. If you are looking to protect your company from all nefarious intent in the online world, you should consider upgrading from simple software solutions to a business-wide hardware firewall.

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