Last updated on April 4, 2023

What is a software firewall?

 A software firewall is a special computer software that runs on a computer or a server. Its main purpose is to protect the computer or server from outside attempts of gaining access and control. Furthermore, a software firewall can be configured to check suspicious outgoing requests as well.

Software firewalls are used in personal computers  and company laptops with operating systems such as Windows, macOS and Unix-like operating systems. In addition to the above, firewalls can be found embedded on IoT (Internet of Things) devices. A software firewall has to be installed on each computer in the network. Hence a software firewall can only protect one computer at a time.

How does a software firewall work and special features of software firewalls

  • It works as the second line of defense against possible threats and any malicious program which the software firewall is trying to block has already bypassed the hardware firewall.
  • When a program tries to access the network, the software firewall decides whether it is malicious or legitimate by checking it against a database.
  • A software firewall blocks the traffic trying to enter the device. In other words, it can block users from accessing single components of the network.
  • Advanced software firewalls normally offer better control over the access rights allowed to a user or device as they can inspect all the traffic and filter data based on a set of rules.
  • A software firewall can block content based on keywords though a hardware firewall can block only a domain or website.

Advantages of a software firewall

  • It is cheaper to install and even free versions are available.
  • Straightforward installation can be done without any requirement of additional hardware or software.
  • Access to specific sites can be blocked using software firewalls.
  • Updates are simple and can be done by the users on their own.
  • It helps protecting against viruses, hackers, spam, malware and other malicious programs.
  • Different levels of access and permissions can be assigned to other users easily.
  • Parental controls and juniors can be supervised.