Difference Between Gateway and Firewall (With Table)

Gateways and firewalls could be classified as system security or a network stabilizing unit that allows communication between multiple networks.

They allow pre-monitored interaction between the desired and authorized users to share data and files that are completely safe and not data with malicious intentions.

The protection and monitoring are needed specifically in local area network (LAN) connected devices which are in danger of malware attack.

Gateway vs Firewall

The difference between gateway and firewall is that while the gateway is a hardware device that helps in connecting multiple protected networks hence enabling the authorized users the chance to share credible data without fear, firewall deals mainly with a security system that is enabled to protect the network that the firewall has been installed for creating a safe bubble of data sending and receiving.

Gateway is usually a hardware device connected externally to the main computer network system that is also called a node helping the host system to interact with multiple other systems that are also similarly equipped with a gateway to enhance the data sharing capability of the host network. It can only be accessed by authorized users. Gateway provides the best way to expand a network by finding new network systems and connecting to them.

A firewall is either hardware or software or both. Commonly seen as software, it is a massive security system usually installed into a device connected to a local area network or metropolitan area network (MAN). The presence of a firewall in a system allows the user to use multiple data packet entries without fear of virus attack or hacker interruption.

Comparison Table Between Gateway and Firewall

Parameters of ComparisonGatewayFirewall
Nature of DeviceNetworking deviceSecurity system device
Method of FunctioningConnects multiple networksInspects incoming and outgoing data traffic for malware or virus
Hardware or Software DeviceHardwareEither hardware or software or a combination of both
Data Modifying CapabilityPresentAbsent
Year of Development19851980

What is Gateway? 

Gateway is also called a node that performs a gate-like function in connecting multiple networks.

Any network that is isolated or is considered a remote network can be a part of a larger and more important network with the help of a gateway.

It can be considered as the starting and endpoint of data transmission among networks as all the data that is transferred goes through it.

Gateway decides the path of entry and the path of exit for the data that are either transmitted to or from the host network of a specific gateway.

Gateways come with two subtypes. They are unidirectional and bidirectional.

A unidirectional gateway allows the passage of data only in one direction. That is either from source to destination server or from destination to the source server.

Because of the one-directional pathway, any changes made in the default source system would be copied into the destination source of wherever the data is being transmitted to.

But if a change is made in the destination server, then the change is mirrored in the source server is not possible for unidirectional gateways.

Unidirectional gateways are also called archiving tools due to their single copy change capability.

Bidirectional gateways, as the name suggests, allow the passage of data in two directions.

This also copies the changes made in the destination server into the source server and vice versa and hence proving to be a more flexible gateway type.

Bidirectional gateways are also called synchronizing tools as the changes don’t remain only for one server.

It can manage all the communication data that is being routed either within the host network or between multiple host networks.

Gateways have information regarding the host network’s internal data transmission routes and also the routes followed by other connecting remote networks.

If a network needs to establish a new connection with a remote network, then the data is passed to the gateway which then finds the possible routes to the desired destination server.

Gateways can be protected by the use of user IDs and password that is known only to authorized users.

What is Firewall? 

Firewalls are the system’s security unit that protects the server from unwanted user entry with malicious intentions.

It helps in proofing the entire incoming and outgoing network data that are also called network traffic.

The firewall has the built-in capability to prevent or allow a data traffic entry into the system based on pre-made security rules.

The firewall protection is carried out by the formation of a barrier system that stands between the data that is being sent from an unknown external source like junk mail.

This barrier method is sometimes followed for data traffic within an internal network for advanced versions of the firewall.

This prevents access to hackers and keeps off malicious viruses and malware like Trojan horses.

A firewall isn’t always a software security system. It could also be hardware or even a combination of both hardware and software.

The software type of firewall is installed onto the personal computers of each user and helps in preventing unauthorized access from entry points of data traffic.

The software firewall is also useful in having a security check over the system downloaded applications that vary from device to device.

The hardware firewall system is just as the name suggests. It is an externally connected device that serves as a firewall.

There are 8 different types of fireballs and their versions developed.

These eight are packet filtering, circuit-level, stateful inspection, proxy, net generation, software, hardware, and cloud firewalls.

All these firewalls monitor the incoming data packets and sort them into piles of safe and unsafe packets.

Packet monitoring is the main process that concludes whether a data packet needs to be approved and thereby accepted or denied entry to a system.

All of the packet monitoring processes are based on a set of pre-made rules on firewall data selection.

The monitoring process doesn’t just look at the data that the packet is carrying but a whole thorough checking is done on its address too.

This includes the IP address of the addressee, the IP address of the receiver, the IP protocol, etc.

The accessibility of the host to the firewall can be controlled as well as the privacy settings by blocking the domain name system (DNS).

Main Differences Between Gateway and Firewall

  1. Gateways are usually only hardware systems that are commonly found in the form of routers while firewalls are either connected hardware or installed software or a combination of both. 
  2. While the only and primary function of the firewall is to protect its host system by monitoring data packets from networks, the function of the gateway is not primarily protection but to allow the connection of multiple networks to form a large network connection. 
  3. The installation cost in the case of gateways is considerably low and a one-time process while that of firewall is not only comparatively expensive but the process itself proves to be complicated and includes extra charges for additional nodes and server update services. 
  4. Privacy is a guaranteed thing while using the firewall as it can block the DNS of the host network whereas in the case of gateway privacy is the responsibility of the authorized user and depends on their password protection. 
  5. While gateways can convert the incoming data to suit the architectural structure of the host network, firewalls can’t do any conversion process to the data packets. 

Conclusion

Both gateway and firewall are reliable network supporter systems with an equal number of pros and cons.

A gateway can function at any version of the OS thus connecting networks working under different versions of the Operating systems.

A firewall is ideal for a network that is in danger of attack from either hackers or malware and viruses.

Gateway is expensive to install and there could be some time delay to gain the data due to the time taken in the information relay.

The presence of a gateway is usually seen at the boundary network enabling it to manage all the data flowing through the boundary to and from a source.

The most common gateways seen in any household are either a computer or a router.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389128606001988
  2. https://ipsj.ixsq.nii.ac.jp/ej/index.php?action=pages_view_main&active_action=repository_action_common_download&item_id=59829&item_no=1&attribute_id=1&file_no=1&page_id=13&block_id=8
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