Security

Which are Better, Hardware or Software Firewalls?

Question 3: Which are better, hardware, or software firewalls? Support your answer.

To begin answering this question, it is essential to note that a hardware firewall is a physical device attached to a network. In contrast, a software firewall is a program that is installed on each network device. While using both hardware and software firewalls is the best decision for increasing security, there are significant strengths and weaknesses with each type. Hardware firewalls control all traffic on a network, differing from a software firewall which merely protects the single device; in this sense, a hardware firewall would be more effective at protecting the entire network, as a single weak point in the system (such as a device without a software firewall installed) can be a significant security gap.

Hardware firewalls also have the benefit of being able to block websites, restrict access for certain devices (like smartphones or video game consoles), can be somewhat cheaper in the long run (due to no monthly subscription fees), and typically do not affect network or device performance (whereas a software firewall can be somewhat resource consuming). While hardware firewalls cannot restrict specific user access (only by device), and sometimes can not be very effective with securing the network from mobile devices, I feel that it is the obvious best choice between the two types of firewalls. Software firewalls’ necessity to be installed on every device can be challenging to perform, update, and maintain, as well as be quite costly. Furthermore, every device might not be compatible to run a specific software firewall (Bauer, nd.).

While I feel that hardware firewalls are the ‘best’ choice when compared to software firewalls, the greatest benefits are when the two types of firewalls are used at once. A hardware firewall is an excellent barrier to deter unauthorized remote connections to a network, as well as perform network-wide security scans and preventive measures. When combined with software firewalls on each device, one can fine-tune security settings based on the device’s necessity and sophistication, making both firewalls my recommendation on any size of network.

Trivia: What is a Blue Box, and what was it used for?

The Blue Box is a telephone hacking tool used from 1960-1970; the device would allow hackers to route their own long-distance calls by emulating the in-band signaling mechanism, which was used to control switching in long-distance phone systems. By merely playing the same tone in the correct 2400 and 2600 Hz range, the hacker could conduct a long-distance phone call for free (Techopedia, 2014).

 References

Bauer, J. (n.d.). Hardware vs. Software Firewalls. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://firewalling.com/hardware-vs-software-firewalls/

Stallings, W. (2017). Network Security Essentials: Applications and Standards (Sixth). Pearson.

Techopedia. (2014, April 1). What is a Blue Box? – Definition from Techopedia. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/17987/blue-box.

Categories: Security

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