Difference Between Antivirus and Firewall

In the realm of cybersecurity, Antivirus and Firewall are two words used interchangeably. Both are used to protect the hardware and software of a computer system. 

Yet there are fundamental differences between a firewall and antivirus software

For one, a firewall is a hardware and software-based security system designed to protect and monitor both a private internet network and a computer system. While antivirus is a software program that detects and eliminates any threats that will destroy a computer system.

Keeping the context of the IAS Exam in mind we will highlight further differences between a firewall and an antivirus                                                                                                                                                     

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Difference Between Antivirus and Firewall

Differences between Firewall and Antivirus

Firewall Antivirus
A firewall is a security network designed to protect computer systems and networks from malicious attacks.  Antivirus is is a software utility program designed to protect a system from internal attacks from viruses, trojan horse, spyware etc
The general term used for a firewall is “packet filter” because it filters any incoming data packets for suspicious contents. Antivirus identifies and corrects any weaknesses found in the computer system.
The main purpose of a firewall is to monitor network traffic and restrict any unauthorized entry The main function of an antivirus is to scan, detect, prevent and remove any existential threat to the computer system
A firewall works at a network protocol level to safeguard against any unwanted intrusion An antivirus will  only scan for any harmful programs that are present in the system such as viruses, worms, Trojans etc
One of the limitations of a firewall is that it cannot block any internal attacks and also those attacks that bypass its network coverage One of the limitations of an antivirus is that it is cannot check read-only files.
DEC SEAL was the first commercially viable firewall program that came out in 1992. Its creation was spearheaded by American computer scientists Brian Reed and Jeff Mogul. The first documented removal of a computer virus was by an actual antivirus software was in 1987 when a German computer security expert, Bernard Robert Fix, created a programme to remove a virus that had infected files in a DOS-based system

Antivirus and Firewalls are recurring concepts in the Science and Technology segment of the UPSC Exams. Aspirants can refer to the links given below for more study materials related to this segment and other allied articles:

Difference Between Antivirus and Firewall – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Antivirus and Firewalls


Why are antivirus software and firewalls needed?

While antivirus software helps to protect the file system against unwanted programs, a firewall helps to keep attackers or external threats from getting access to your system in the first place.

Why is antivirus important?

Antivirus detects or recognizes the virus, and then after detecting the presence of the virus, it works on removing it from the computer system. Antivirus software works as a prophylactic so that it not only eliminates a virus but also prevents any potential virus from infecting your computer in the future.

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