DNS Filtering vs Firewall: What are the differences?

DNS Filtering vs Firewall:
What are the differences?


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DNS Filtering vs Firewall What are the differences

Cybersecurity has become one of the top concerns for organisations and individuals because we now rely heavily on technology and the internet. In online security, two important goals are filtering out unwanted content and preventing unauthorised network access. To achieve these goals, people and organisations use various technologies. Two common and important tools for this are firewalls and content filters (such as URL filter or DNS filter). Even though firewalls and content filtering do different things, people often get confused when talking about these technologies, especially DNS filtering.

DNS filtering and firewalls are both important security tools used to protect networks and devices, but they serve different purposes and operate at different levels of the network stack. In this article, we will explore the differences between firewalls, DNS filtering, and how ArmourZero Web Protection as-a-service can protect your businesses.

What is DNS Filtering?

DNS filtering or DNS filter is a type of software that controls access to the internet by filtering the DNS (Domain Name System) where requests are made by users on a network. DNS filter allows administrators to decide which websites or IP addresses users can access based on rules. This helps organisations block undesirable content at the domain name level, like preventing employees from accessing social media sites.

DNS filters can be used for a variety of purposes, such as enforcing content restrictions for security or compliance reasons, blocking malicious or phishing sites, or enforcing acceptable use policies for internet usage in the workplace. Some DNS filters also provide additional features such as reporting and analytics, to give administrators insight into internet usage on their network.

Read more: DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: What are the differences?


What is a Firewall?

A firewall is like a digital security guard for your network because it watches over incoming and outgoing data to make sure it follows your security rules. Firewalls look at the type of data and where it’s going.

Firewalls also use DNS, like a phonebook for the internet. When you visit a website, your request goes through the firewall’s DNS service. It checks if the site is safe or not. If it’s safe, you get access. If not, the firewall blocks it and keeps you safe.

The primary objective of firewalls is to keep the network safe by controlling the flow of data based on criteria such as IP addresses, port numbers, and protocols. They also do other security stuff like detecting and stopping unauthorised access and bad traffic.


Do Firewalls use DNS?

Yes, firewalls often use DNS (Domain Name System) as a component of their functionality. Therefore, there’s sometimes confusion between DNS filter and DNS firewall because both involve DNS. DNS filtering is about blocking specific websites or allowing access to others, while DNS firewalling does a lot more. It can block or allow traffic based on many factors like IP addresses and protocols. DNS filtering is a part of DNS firewalling, but people often mix up the terms.

However, it is important to note that while firewalls can use DNS in these ways, their main function is to watch over network traffic closely. Firewalls look inside the data packets, understand what kind of data it is, and make sure it follows security rules that go beyond DNS. 

Also, firewalls work in conjunction with other security measures like DNS filtering, antivirus software, and more to keep your network safe from many types of cyber threats. DNS filtering and firewalls are both important security tools used to protect networks and devices, but they serve different purposes and operate at different levels of the network stack.

3 Key Differences between DNS Filtering and Firewalls 

DNS filtering and firewalls are essential for network security, but they do different things and work at different levels. Here are the key differences between DNS filtering and firewalls:

1. Purpose

  • DNS Filtering: DNS (Domain Name System) Filtering focuses on controlling and monitoring the domain name and IP addresses that devices on a network can access. It is mainly for content control, malware protection, and security. 
  • Firewall: A firewall is a network security device that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an established set of rules. Firewalls are like guards that follow rules to protect the network from unauthorised access and threats

2. Functionality

  • DNS Filtering: It manages which websites you can access by allowing or blocking their addresses. DNS filters can be used to prevent access to malicious websites, restrict access to certain categories of websites (e.g., social media, adult content), and enforce safe browsing policies.
  • Firewall: it protects your network by checking all traffic and deciding if it should be allowed or blocked based on things like where it’s from and what it looks like. They can even spot and stop dangerous stuff like viruses.

3. Use cases

  • DNS Filter: it is used for content filtering, web security, and protection against cyberattacks such as phishing, malware, or cryptojacking. 
  • Firewall: it acts as a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, such as the Internet. Firewalls are essential for protecting against a wide range of threats, including unauthorised access, DDoS attacks, and more.



In summary, choosing between DNS filtering and a firewall depends on what your business needs. DNS filtering is great for blocking bad websites and enforcing rules. It’s also easy to set up and budget-friendly, which is good for smaller businesses. It can even warn you about new online threats. However, for strong protection, it’s often best to use both DNS filtering and a firewall together. This way, you’re ready for a wide range of online dangers. It’s like having many layers of defence to keep your business safe. 

ArmourZero is an all-in-one cybersecurity platform that provides not only Endpoint Protection, but also Advanced Endpoint Protection as-a-Service such as Web Protection (powered by DNSFilter), Email Protection (powered by Avanan), and Patch Management (powered by Automox). All the services come with dedicated 24/7/365 support from our SOC Team, get security alerts, event monitoring, & monthly report, stay updated with our Threat Intelligence Lab Analysis, and free Consultation for incident management.

Protect your organisation from cybercrime and cyberattack  today with just one click!

See our pricing here and request a demo to understand further.
You can also contact our sales to help you choose the right cybersecurity services for your business.

Fanny Fajarianti ArmourZero

Written by: 

Fanny Fajarianti (Performance Marketing). Experienced digital marketer in the information technology and services industry.


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