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Last updated February 19th, 2024 by Avigdor Book

In today’s interconnected world, the security of your network is more crucial than ever. The decision between opting for a host-based firewall or a network-based firewall can seem complex. Both types are integral for bolstering your cybersecurity defenses, yet understanding their unique features is essential for a sound security strategy.

Let’s explore the advantages and differences of each, guiding you to make a well-informed choice for your organization.

Unpacking the complexities of host-based and network-based firewalls is vital for crafting a secure network architecture. Each offers specific benefits and limitations, catering to different facets of network security. Let’s dive into these firewalls to better determine which, or possibly a blend of both, best aligns with your business requirements.

Host-based Firewalls: The First Line of Defense

Host-based firewalls are installed on individual devices, serving as vigilant protectors against unauthorized traffic. This firewall type shines in its ability to exert precise control over the host’s apps and services. For example, the Windows Firewall, a typical host-based solution, allows for the customization of rules that meet the unique security demands of each host in an organization.


  • Granular Control: Provides in-depth control over each app’s activities on a host.

  • Endpoint Protection: Essential for safeguarding individual devices, particularly in today’s remote work era.

  • Independence: Each device is protected independently, ensuring security even in compromised network situations.


  • Resource Intensive: Can strain system resources when managing complex rulesets on numerous devices.

  • Scalability Issues: Challenge of overseeing a multitude of individual firewalls. 

Network-based Firewalls: The Gatekeeper of Network Traffic

Positioned at key points within the network, network-based firewalls scrutinize and regulate traffic between devices. They serve as the cornerstone of perimeter defense, enforcing traffic rules based on pre-established security protocols.

Amazon, Checkpoint, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Palo Alto are among the notable providers of these robust network-based firewall solutions.


  • Efficient Traffic Management: Capable of managing high-speed, voluminous data traffic.

  • Centralized Protection: Provides a comprehensive overview of network security, easing the monitoring and control of network flows

  • Scalability: Excel in scaling within expansive enterprise networks, ensuring security control measures evolve with your business.


  • Potential for Bottlenecks: May cause bottlenecks during peak traffic, potentially affecting network performance.
  • Complexity in Large Networks: Though scalable, their complexity can escalate in highly segmented networks without the aid of tools offering full visibility into your firewall network topology.

Why Use Both?

Employing both host-based and network-based firewalls creates a multi-layered security posture, bolstering both the network’s perimeter and its individual hosts. This comprehensive approach ensures robust protection against a variety of threats, from external incursions targeting the network to internal malware propagation attempts. 

Integrating network-based firewalls with Tufin means achieving comprehensive visibility into your firewall network topology and benefiting from centralized firewall management, key pillars of effective cybersecurity.

Enhancing security with network segmentation solutions can further limit threat lateral movement across the network.


Deciding on host-based versus network-based firewalls—or a hybrid strategy—hinges on your specific business needs, network architecture, and threat concerns. Harnessing both types’ strengths offers a formidable security infrastructure that safeguards your enterprise on all fronts.

FAQs on Host-Based Firewall vs Network-Based Firewall

Q: What is the difference between a host-based firewall and a network-based firewall?

A: A host-based firewall is a software application that secures an individual computer (host) from unauthorized access by managing incoming and outgoing network traffic. In contrast, a network-based firewall, either hardware or software, safeguards an entire network by filtering traffic based on pre-defined security rules.

Host-based firewalls control traffic to and from individual devices, offering device-level protection, including for various operating systems like Windows and Linux. Network-based firewalls, positioned at the network’s entry points, regulate traffic between that network and external entities, playing a critical role in perimeter security by managing traffic based on IP addresses, protocols, and application types.

Explore our insights on firewall change management best practices for a deeper understanding of these firewalls’ roles in cybersecurity.

Q: What is a host-based firewall?

A: A host-based firewall is a software solution designed to protect an individual device from unauthorized access by regulating its network traffic based on a set of predefined rules. These firewalls are pivotal for devices, especially those containing sensitive information or part of a larger network, as they thwart unauthorized access and shield against various vulnerabilities.

Examples include built-in firewall systems in operating systems like Windows and Linux, offering host-level security, including for VPN connections, with the flexibility for customization based on the host’s specific security needs and risk profile.

Learn how to craft a manageable firewall policy for large companies.

Q: Why would you want to use both host-based firewalls and network-based firewalls?

A: Utilizing both host-based and network-based firewalls provides a layered defense strategy, offering multiple protection levels. Network-based firewalls act as the initial defense line, managing and filtering all traffic at the network’s edge, thereby shielding the infrastructure from external threats.

Conversely, host-based firewalls deliver a secondary security layer, offering individual device protection within the network from both external and internal threats.

This dual-layered approach ensures that if a threat bypasses the network firewall, the host-based firewall might still prevent it from compromising the individual system. Additionally, host firewalls allow for detailed control over app-level protocols and guard against localized attacks that network firewalls might not detect.

For more insights into fortifying your cybersecurity posture with effective firewall strategies, delve into our perspectives on firewall change management best practices.

Wrapping Up

For businesses keen on refining their network security strategy, Tufin Orchestration Suite delivers an all-encompassing solution that streamlines management, boosts visibility, and ensures compliance across your network’s security setup.

Interested in discovering how Tufin can enhance and secure your company’s network? Consider registering for a demo today, and embark on the journey to a more secure and efficient network security posture.

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