Both firewall and proxy servers work towards a common goal and that is limiting or blocking connections to or from a network. Both of them provide security against the network threats and reside between the local computer and the network. But then what is the difference between firewall and proxy server?
The difference between a firewall and a proxy server arises in the purpose and working of both. A firewall simply blocks access to unauthorized connections while a proxy server sits as a mediator between a local computer and the internet. But exactly what is a firewall and proxy server? Let us find out this, in the next part of this blog!
In this article let us look at:
A firewall is a software or application that protects a local network of computers or devices by limiting or blocking access to some unauthorized users sitting outside the network. It works at an IP packet level and can filter data packets entering into a private network. A data packet can enter a network only if the firewall allows it to enter. It is a full-proof barrier for monitoring, protecting, and auditing the local computer network from external security threats.
There are specific access control policies or rules set by the administrator that governs what data packet is allowed and what is not. These rules are known as the access control list. This list may contain allowed and denied port numbers, internet protocol used by the request, and IP addresses. This list is customizable and the network administrator can, not only prevent what can enter the network but also what leaves a network. And this is how security is ensured in a private network. An example of an access control list is shown below:
|Permit||IP Address||Internet Protocol||Destination||Port|
The usefulness of a Firewall
A proxy server is a device or a program that improves and secures access to a website. To do so, it acts as a barrier between the local computer and the Internet. This avoids direct communication between the local computer and the internet. It uses an anonymous IP address instead of the original one. So no external user can view the local computer’s IP address because only the proxy server IP address is visible. This ensures safety from malicious users sitting outside the network.
When a user wants to access a particular site on the Internet, the request is sent to a proxy server. It then searches the cache and looks up for the same request. If the request is available in the cache, it is produced right away saving the bandwidth. If it is not in the cache, the proxy accesses the internet and produces the result and stores it in the cache as well.
The usefulness of a proxy server
So by reading about what is firewall and proxy server, it is clear that the difference between a firewall server and the proxy server is just at the level of functioning and purpose. Otherwise, they work with the sole motive of protecting a local network from malicious users and activities.
Now we will get into much more technical details and explain the proxy vs firewall difference in a tabular and easy way. So here is the technically precise difference between firewall and proxy server:
|Basis of Comparison||Firewall Server||Proxy Server|
|Basic Firewall vs Proxy||The major firewall and proxy difference are that firewall monitors and filters all incoming and outgoing access requests on a local network.||While a proxy server mediates and connects a local computer with a server to retrieve data on the behalf of a user.|
|Purpose||Unauthorized access is strictly not allowed.||It provides connections over the network.|
|How and what do they filter?||The access requests are filtered based on the IP packets of the incoming traffic. It blocks programs and ports that try to gain unauthorized access.||An organization can ban a certain website from using it. So a proxy server filters such websites for users. It also masks your local computer network from the Internet. This brings out another prime proxy and firewall difference.|
|Network layer||The firewall server works on the network and transport layer data.||The proxy server works on the application layer data also.|
|Place of application or existence||It is an interface between private and public networks.||It may exist on both sides with public networks.|
|Protects from||Another vital firewall and proxy server, difference is that a firewall protects the internal network from malicious threats and attacks.||While the proxy server lets you use the internet anonymously and forgo restrictions.|
|Overhead generated||Between firewall and proxy server, the firewall generates more overhead. This is because it acts as a major source of authorization whether a particular request can dive into a network or not.||The overhead generated here is less because it uses caching and receives a lesser number of requests.|
By now, we have clearly stated the firewall and proxy server definition, their usefulness, and what is the difference between proxy and firewall. Deciding about what to include to protect your private network: proxy server vs firewall? But do you know the proxy server and firewall can work in integration? A proxy server is a part of the firewall which when used together with the firewall provides more efficiency and feasibility.
By efficiency we mean, they reduce the risk of a Cyberattack, hacking, or IP spoofing. These kinds of attacks mainly aim to enter into the system employing multiple password attempts hoping that one of them is valid. Systems are generally targeted by automated bots and if they succeed they can destroy the system by wiping off your crucial data completely.
So, it is better to follow all the security measures and avoid a security breach. Happy computing! In case, you are interested in Cyber Security then browse through our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Blue Team), a 520 hours long program with preparation for 7 global certifications.