22 Differences Between Firewall & Router

A Firewall is a strong barrier that is located between two networks and is used to determine the authenticity of the network traffic with the implementation of access control policy.

The router, on the other hand, connects different networks at the same time by connecting different devices in the network.

Ideally, a Firewall is much different from a router and this article will let you know why it is so. Apart from the major differences between it and a router, this article will also help you in making a choice between the two, if you really have to.


  • A Firewall is actually a part of a network system that encrypts data before transmission to protect the network but a router is a hardware device that cannot encrypt data and protect any system from threat.
  • A Firewall cannot share a network but a router can share internet connection with several systems in the network within the range.
  • A Firewall works on the transport and network layer of the OSI model but the router works on the physical, network and data link layer of the same.
  • The features of a Firewall are packet filtering, virus protection, antispyware, security zones, intrusion prevention and others while IGP, BGP and PBR are the common features of a router.

The 22 Differences Between Firewall and Router

Firewall vs Router

1. Type

A Firewall is a part of the computer system or the network but, in comparison, a router signifies a device.

2. Encryption Ability

Unlike a router, the Firewall uses its encryption ability to encrypt the data prior to transmission.

On the other hand, much unlike Firewall, the router does not come with encryption ability and therefore cannot do so prior to routing the networks.

3. Network Protection

A Firewall has the ability to protect the network from threats.

On the other hand, the router simply cannot protect them from the threats.

4. Network Sharing

A Firewall typically does not share the network but, in comparison, a router includes sharing provision which allows it to share internet connection among the networks.

5. Functions

The main function of the Firewall is to check whether or not there is any threat from the incoming data packets.

On the other hand, the router simply acts as the medium to connect networks or devices to a network simultaneously.

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6. Open System Interconnection Layer Coverage

A Firewall typically works on the transport layer and network layer of the Open System Interconnection or OSI model.

On the other hand, the router works on the network layer, physical layer, and data link layer of the OSI model.

7. Existence

A Firewall can exist inside the router but, in comparison, a router usually cannot occur in a Firewall.

8. Operations

A Firewall typically filters the data as well as regulates it but, on the other hand, a router simply controls the data so that it is directed to the target destination.

9. Age

The Firewall is pretty young as compared to routers because it was discovered later and therefore is considered to be the newest form of network security.

On the other hand, the routers were used even before the Firewall to ensure network security and therefore are considered to be the older forms of network security.

10. Used for

A Firewall is typically used for protecting the security aspect of the core network of the computer.

On the other hand, a router is typically used for routing data and WAN link Termination.

11. Features

The common features of a Firewall include content or packet filtering, antispyware, virus protection, intrusion prevention, security zones and others.

On the other hand, the features of a router include IGP or Interior Gateway Protocol, BGP or Border Gateway Protocol, and PBR or Policy Based Routing.

12. Interface Support

A Firewall most supports Ethernet ports or interface.

On the other hand, a router supports Ethernet, Serial ports, Wireless ports, ATM or Asynchronous Transfer Mode, and STM Synchronous Transport Module.

13. State Table

A state table is maintained by the Firewall which provides all information regarding the state of data flow.

On the other hand, the router does not maintain any such state table that will provide the information about the state of data flow.

14. Set of Security Rules

The Firewall follows a specific and predetermined set of security rules while monitoring the data within the network in order to manage the accessibility of it in the system.

On the other hand, the router does not follow any such preset security rules while directing the traffic to a network or forwarding the data packets to it.

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15. Connections

The Firewalls are typically connected to the routers or proxy servers.

On the other hand, the routers are usually connected to Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks.

16. Creating SSL VPN

A Firewall supports creating Virtual Private Network or VPN and SSL or Secure Sockets Layer on it.

On the other hand, you cannot create SSL or VPN on the router.

17. Tracing Data Packets

The route of the data packets transmitted cannot be traced by using a Firewall.

On the other hand, you can use a router to trace the route of the data packets transferred.

18. Hiding IP Addresses

A Firewall can actually hide the IP address or Internet Protocol address of a device connected in the network from the external users.

On the other hand, a router does not hide the IP address or Internet Protocol address of a system connected in a network of external users.

19. Port Filtering

A Firewall will allow doing port filtering but a router, on the other hand, cannot be used for port filtering.

20. Packet Filtering

A Firewall will allow packet filtering but a router, on the other hand, cannot be used for packet filtering.

21. Form

A Firewall can be either hardware or software but, on the other hand, a router is essentially a hardware device.

22. Protocol Configuration

A Firewall does not allow configuring specific types of protocols on it such as RIP or Routing Information Protocol, IGRP or Interior Gateway Routing Protocol, EIGRP or Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol, and OSPF or Open Shortest Path First link state protocol.

On the other hand, a router will allow configuring the RIP, IGRP, EIGRP, and OSPF protocols on it.

Which is More Important – Firewall and Router?

Differences Between Firewall and Router

When it comes to security of your computer network you should be very judicious while choosing an option.

If you want to make a choice between a router and a Firewall you should choose one that is more important for your computing needs.

However, if you ask which among them is more important, it will be a pretty tough question to answer because both the router and the Firewall have different purposes to serve.

Practically, the origin of the router and a Firewall both is from different time frames and the fact that their functionalities are also particularly different from each other make things all the more difficult.

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Ideally, it can be best said that both are equally important especially in this age where online business and data transmission is essentially important.

Therefore, you will need faster and proper transmission of data to the desired address as well as assure that your computer system and network is not vulnerable to online threats while doing so.

Usually, the first aspect will be taken care of by the router because the ultimate goal of it is to ensure that the data packets when transferred reach the target address node or the network, a process often termed as internetwork.

It helps in directing the data packets most efficiently.

On the other hand, the second requirement can only be fulfilled by the Firewall being the fundamental part of network security in a computer system.

It comes with the ability to maximize the strength of the computer system as well as that of the network at different levels to protect them from malicious attacks and against harmful materials.

In addition to that, a Firewall also has the ability to safeguard the resources of a private network from the other users who may be on the same network or another.

However, both the router and Firewall can restrict or block specific kinds of outgoing traffic.

Therefore, it is wise to use both a router and a Firewall in your system to protect your network.

Such conjunction will offer the maximum results. However, you will first have to assess all the parameters before you make your final decision.


So, as you can see from the list of differences as well as from the additional facts and information provided in the later section of this article, a router and Firewall are quite different but both are useful to detect unsolicited incoming or outgoing traffic.

So, both can be used to protect a network.

About Puja Chatterjee

Puja ChatterjeePuja Chatterjee is a technical writer with extensive knowledge about computers. She graduated from BIMS. Her expertise includes technology writing and client relationship management gained through over 12 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin.

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