Malicious Bytes: The Difference Between Firewalls and Antivirus Software Explained

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The Internet has made the world smaller. We can communicate with each other and discover an endless sea of information. As with our world, it can be dangerous out there. There are means to safeguard ourselves from digital threats. Chief among them are the firewall and antivirus software. Both of them make our computers protected but function differently from each other. Here, you will find out how they work. Don’t worry; you don’t need to pass a CompTIA Network+ (N10-007) exam to understand all this.

Firewall

A firewall guards your network traffic. It has filters that will weed out unwanted websites. The filter will be referring to a database of addresses. You can add more sites to be blocked or make exceptions. Windows has its own firewall features with settings that you can change to suit your needs. There is also firewall software that you can install on your PC. Each will tout their own feature, but the main function is still the same.

The effectivity of a firewall can depend on which point it is placed. Think of your network as a branching diagram. If the firewall is set at the very top, everything below will be protected by it. A practical example of this is with a router. If you have a firewall set up here, any computer that connects to it will have its Internet traffic filtered.

Large businesses have what is called the intranet. This is a private network that only employees in the company can access. For multinational businesses, the way they have their workers all over the world connect to the intranet is via a virtual private network (VPN). Between your workstation and intranet is the whole worldwide web. Think of the VPN as a different route that you can take to reach the company network. Although you will still be treading the information superhighway, it leads you to roads that are private and secure. With that said, you can set firewall policies at this level. This means that anyone connecting to the intranet will have their internet traffic monitored.

Antivirus Software

a man using his laptop

Also called anti-malware, antivirus software prevents malicious programs from running on your computer. One of its main components is the knowledge base. This is a database of viruses that are either researched by the developers or reported by users. It should be updated regularly because the software can act only on viruses that it knows. But when it does find a virus, it can quarantine or outright delete the file.

Developers who create antivirus software are experts at low-level programming. This means that they know how to code near the machine level. This is code that those without any technical background will have difficulty deciphering.

These are the two most popular safety measures that you can take for your PC. You should also be conscious of your browsing behavior. Always remember to avoid malicious sites and pop-ups. If you are in doubt, it might be best to reboot right away.

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