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Gateway vs. Firewall: Difference Between the two Networking Systems

A gateway is a machine through which data packets flow. It is responsible for linking together two networks. A firewall is a filtering system through which data packets are sent; the firewall decides to let some of the packets pass through, while it blocks or divert others.


Gateway vs. Firewall: Difference Between the two Networking Systems
Published By - Kelsey Taylor

Gateway is a networking hardware or network node which connects the two disparate network to communicate with each other. Most common gateways are computer and router which can connect an enterprise to the internet.

A firewall is both hardware and software application which sets the rules as per which data packets are allowed to enter the network.

The functionality of both these networking systems are present in many devices, like that in router and that’s why people get confused between gateway and firewall.

Both gateway and firewall can be divided into their different types.

Types of Gateway

  • Unidirectional Gateways
  • Bidirectional Gateways

Types of Firewall

  • Packet filtering firewalls
  • Circuit-level gateways
  • Stateful inspection firewalls
  • Application-level gateways
  • Next-gen firewalls

Where does the difference between gateway and firewall lie?

Although, there is not much to differentiate between the two but to begin with the simplest difference lies in the fact that gateway is only hardware whereas firewall can be both, hardware as well as software. Gateway only enables the transfer of packets whereas the firewall decides which data packets should pass through. It secures the network from internet hacking or spam traffic bots.

Also, the installation cost of a unidirectional gateway is generally a one-time cost which includes the setting up of the hardware and configuring some software components whereas firewall cost is more complex and there are some hidden costs in it like WSUS servers, interface nodes.

Let’s look into some of the benefits provided by the two.

Benefits of using Gateway:

  • Reduces cost and complexity.
  • It creates rich and useful user Interface
  • Easy to log the incoming traffic.

Benefits of using Firewall:

  • Protects the network from external threats.
  • It allows customizing the security protocols.
  • It allows to block or un-block inappropriate or appropriate traffic.

Also Read: What does Endpoint Security Mean and Why is it Necessary?

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