A firewall is an invaluable cybersecurity tool. Typically consisting of software or firmware, it’s designed to filter traffic. Firewalls operate using a set of rules. Only traffic that meets the criteria of these rules will be allowed to pass. Firewalls will reject all other traffic, such as malicious traffic. There are different types of firewalls, however, including personal and network.

What Is a Personal Firewall?

A personal firewall is a type of firewall that operates on a single computer. They aren’t necessarily limited to personal use; you can install a personal firewall on a personal computer or a business computer. Personal firewalls are simply designed for a single computer. Like other firewalls, they work by filtering traffic with a set of rules.

What Is a Network Firewall?

A network firewall is a type of firewall that operates on a network. There are hardware-based network firewalls as well as software-based network firewalls. Hardware-based network firewalls consist of security hardware that, when installed, will filter traffic on the network. Software-based firewalls consist of software.

How Personal and Network Firewalls Work

Both personal and network firewalls are designed to filter traffic. Traffic represents incoming and outgoing data. If you connect to a website from your computer, you will typically exchange data with that site. A firewall is a cybersecurity tool — either in the form of hardware or software — that filters traffic such as this.

Traffic must pass through personal and network firewalls. Personal firewalls are deployed on a computer. Network firewalls are deployed on a network. Regardless, they both work by filtering traffic. Personal and network firewalls will either allow or reject traffic depending on whether the traffic meets the criteria of their rules.

Differences Between Personal and Network Firewalls

Most firewalls can be classified as personal or network depending on where they operate. Personal firewalls operate on a single computer, whereas network firewalls operate on a network.

Networks, of course, support multiple computers and devices. Your business’s local area network (LAN) may have dozens of interconnected computers and devices. A network firewall will protect all of these computers and devices from cyber threats.

When choosing between a personal and network firewall, you should consider the number of computers and devices that require protection. If you only need to protect a single computer from cyber threats, a personal firewall will suffice. To protect multiple computers from cyber threats, conversely, you may want to choose a network firewall.