A lot of people don’t know the difference between an Antivirus program and a firewall and what each actually does.
There are some exceptions to the rules but for the sake of simplicity and without getting to technical this article is going to be discussing the differences in general.
Indeed you can get antivirus programs with firewalls built in, but not always and there is a big difference between what an antivirus program does and what a firewall is.
What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a designed piece of computer code or a program which is loaded onto your computer against your knowledge with the intention to do things against your wishes.
Computer viruses are man made and can replicate themselves on your system and slow down, shutdown or destroy your computer, including all your data such as music, videos, documents and photos.
The term computer virus has morphed to encompass a wide range of processes now and not just programs which intentionally do bad things on your system.,
Viruses now come in the form of adware, which tries to advertise to you; spyware, which spies on your and ransomware which hold your computer to ransom. Technically these are not all viruses but for all intensive purposes do the same thing and act against your wishes.
Antivirus programs work on your system to detect, hunt down, scan your system and remove these malicious files running in the background or starting up when you turn your computer on.
Antivirus companies have their hands filled as they predict there are about 60,000 new viruses and malware programs made every day!
Although antivirus programs are not 100% effective, they still do a very good job of protecting your computer. I akin them to wearing a helmet on your motorbike. It does not mean it will always save your life, but your chances are much greater by having one.
For best results you must always keep your system and antivirus up to date.
A firewall can be hardware or software based and is used as an wall which stands between you and another computer, virus or device on a network.
Just about all operating systems now have firewalls built into them, some antivirus programs and most routers.
You probably don’t know this but when you are using your computer in Australia you most likely are using two firewalls.
Unless you have multiple public IP addresses your router is probably using NAT (Network Address Translation) which share your network to multiple computers on your local network by giving them different local IP addresses.
By doing this your router is acting like a firewall for your computers as the outside networks can only see your router, not your computer.
This does not mean you should still not use a firewall on your computer. A firewall on your computer can still protect you, specially from other people or viruses and devices already on your local network.
Be safe, use both
I use both. Its easy to be very critical of antivirus programs because every day I see computers with good antivirus protection still having viruses on their computers.
Depending on your system I find antivirus programs do slow your computer down, but not to the point I would recommend not using them, its worth the trade off.
The best possible scenario is to run a good antivirus program, make sure NAT firewall is turned on in your router and use the firewall on your computer.