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DMZ vs Firewall: A Comparison Between Two Network Security Solutions

May 8th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

Two business people working on a laptop together in an office

If your organization is looking to improve its network security, it can be difficult to identify the security tools that are the best fit for your organization.

If you aren’t sure of the differences between a DMZ and a firewall, you won’t be able to determine which tool will benefit your network more.

Network security is critically important in today’s network infrastructure.

If you do not know which network security solutions are best for your organization, you may have a solution that leaves your network vulnerable.

Coeo has helped thousands of customers with their network security and knows how important network security is to an organization.

We want you to know the differences between a DMZ and a firewall so you can determine which is best for your organization.

By the end of this article, you will know what a DMZ is, what a firewall is, the differences between the two, and which one is best for your organization.

What is a DMZ network?

A Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) network is a perimeter sub-network that contains and protects an organization’s services and information from untrusted traffic on a larger public network such as the internet.

A DMZ adds additional security outside of your private network. The term demilitarized zone can be thought of the same way the term is used in war.

The demilitarized zone in war is a neutral zone that forbids military actions within a specific area.

This can be thought of in the same way that a demilitarized zone in network security functions.

The DMZ is not part of your private network or the public internet so it is a neutral zone that is still secure for your organization to access.

This allows you to send data and other information over the DMZ to the public internet or other private networks without having to worry about it being compromised.  

What is a firewall?

A firewall works like a fence surrounding your network to protect it from outside malicious sources. It is essentially the first line of defense when it comes to your network and has been used for the last 25 years.

A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides to allow or block traffic based on a set of security rules set up for your organization.

Firewalls establish a barrier between secured, trusted internal networks and untrusted outside networks.

A trusted internal network is usually a private network that is protected by various network security tools.

An untrusted external network is a public network such as the internet that anyone can access from anywhere on any device making it much less secure.

Contrary to popular belief, however, a firewall is not supposed to be set up once and forgotten about. Firewalls must be maintained and managed with updates and periodic upgrades to remain effective.

You can have a firewall, managed by your IT team, or you can have a managed firewall managed by a service provider.

With a managed firewall, your service provider monitors and updates the firewall for you and suggests upgrades whenever necessary.

What is the difference between a DMZ and a firewall?

A DMZ is a perimeter network that acts as a buffer between the public internet and a LAN and restricts access to the LAN. This buffer is designed to reduce the risks of cyberattacks.

DMZ allows incoming traffic from the internet into the DMZ segment while blocking traffic coming from the DMZ to the internal network.

In a DMZ, the servers act as the middlemen between your internal network and public networks and are separate from and have limited access to your internal network.

This ensures that if the DMZ becomes a victim of a cyberattack, it will not affect your internal network and your data will be secure.

DMZs are an excellent solution for businesses that host publicly accessible servers and services.

On the other hand, a firewall sits around your network and is technically part of your internal network.

Firewalls work by analyzing incoming and outgoing traffic on the network and blocking any suspicious activity that is determined to be malicious.

The bottom line is that a DMZ is designed to isolate public networks from private networks and is used as a third-party middleman to translate information from private and public networks.

Firewalls work to filter inbound and outbound traffic on a private network and block suspicious activity.

Which is best for your organization?

Both DMZs and firewalls are great security solutions to have for any network. The best-case scenario is to integrate both solutions into your network simultaneously to provide a more layered security solution.

In this case, the firewall will sit between the DMZ and the internal network. However, not every organization can afford to utilize both security solutions.

For organizations that host publicly accessible servers and have many users accessing their servers regularly, a DMZ will be a good fit since its strength is eliminating external risks.

On the other hand, a firewall is a good fit for most other organizations to maintain access to their network and ensure data is secure with the ability to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. 

Use this free tool to learn how you stack up against your peers and learn how to stop poor network performance, reduce outages, and learn best practices for maintaining a resilient networkFree Network Assessment

Next steps to improve your network security

Now you know what a DMZ network is, what a firewall is, the differences between the two, and which one is best for your organization. This will enable you to determine which one is the best fit for your organization.

No one wants to have security vulnerabilities and become a victim of a cyberattack.

Cyberattacks can cost organizations hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars as a result which is why it is important to find the best network security solution for your organization.

Coeo has helped thousands of customers with their network security and knows how important it is to an organization.

We want to help you improve your network security and integrate security solutions that best fit your organization.

If you would like to speak with our team to talk about DMZ networks and firewalls or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment.TALK TO AN EXPERT

Now you know the differences between DMZ and firewalls. Read these articles below to understand additional security solutions that can avoid cyberattacks:

Jordan Pioth

When he's not creating content for Coeo, Jordan loves to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, and anything sneaker-related.