Gateway vs Firewall: Difference and Comparison

Gateways and firewalls could be classified as system security or 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.

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

Key Takeaways

  1. Gateways connect different networks and facilitate communication, while firewalls protect networks from unauthorized access.
  2. Gateways perform network address translation and routing, while firewalls monitor and filter incoming and outgoing traffic.
  3. Both technologies are crucial for secure and efficient network management but serve distinct functions.

Gateway vs Firewall

The difference between a gateway and a firewall is that while the gateway is a hardware device that helps in connecting multiple protected networks hence enabling 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 vs Firewall

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Gateway is 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 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 a virus attack or hacker interruption.

Comparison Table

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 the source to the destination server or from the 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, 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, the data is passed to the gateway, which finds the possible routes to the desired destination server.

Gateways can be protected by using user IDs and passwords that are known only to authorized users.

internet gateway

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, which 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.

Firewall protection is carried out by forming a barrier system that stands between the data 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 each user’s personal computer and helps prevent 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 must be approved and 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 packet’s data, but a whole thorough checking is done on its address too.

This includes the addressee’s IP address, the receiver’s IP address, 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 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 guaranteed while using the firewall as it can block the DNS of the host network, whereas, in the case of the 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. 
Difference Between Gateway and Firewall

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