What is Stateless vs. Stateful Firewall?
What is stateless vs stateful firewall

In a stateful firewall vs. a stateless firewall, the former functions by intercepting the data packets at the OSI layer to derive and analyze data and improve overall security. However, the stateless firewalls do not focus on many details like the stateful ones and only use clues from destination addresses and such key values to identify potential threats.

Stateless and stateful firewalls might appear to be similar, but they majorly differ in terms of capabilities, principles, functions, and specifications. So, which one is ideal for your business? To understand and select the right firewall for your company, let's get a clearer picture of firewalls and their different types. .

Are All the Types of Firewalls Same?

No, the types of firewalls differ in their functionalities and characteristics. The incoming as well as outgoing traffic moves across the network as per the pre-defined rules set by the organization's firewall.

Depending on the types of firewalls, the organization can identify, block, and manage the traffic and determine the presence of potential cyber threats within the network. In any case, the network security policies are designed by the companies to restrict the movement of untrusted and corrupt files and data across the network to protect the company's assets.

The types of firewalls either tend to run on network-enabled hardware or host-based firewalls, which chiefly rely on the computers to oversee and monitor the incoming traffic. In either case, while researching the best firewall vendors, you must have encountered stateless and stateful firewalls. So let's get a closer look at the different types of network firewalls available in the market:

Host-Based Firewalls

The host-based firewalls are the ones that run on individual devices or remain installed on each network node and stay connected to the network. These firewalls offer granular ways to protect individual host devices from malware, unauthorized access, and virus attacks while controlling the spread of these harmful threats throughout the network.

Network-Based Firewalls

The network-based firewalls are the ones that monitor, restrict, and permit smooth traffic flow between the networks by employing two or more NICs (network interface cards). So these are responsible for filtering the incoming and outgoing network traffic using the predefined firewall rules. These are further divided into:

  1. Packet filtering firewall
  2. Circuit-level gateway
  3. Stateful inspection firewall
  4. Application-level gateway
  5. Next-generation firewall (NGFW)

Apart from these types, you can also find NAT or Network Address Translation firewalls, Cloud firewalls, Unified Threat Management firewalls, etc. Among these different types, let's get a closer look at stateful vs. stateless firewalls.

Network-Based Firewalls

What is Stateless Firewall?

A stateless firewall is about monitoring the network traffic, depending on the destination and Source or other values. These firewalls can monitor the incoming traffic packets but have no data related to the traffic patterns. Hence it cannot inspect the traffic and only functions as per the pre-defined set of filters and security rules. It is also known as the ACL or Access control list and can monitor only the primary information of the data packets while determining the permissions accordingly.

These firewalls detect data threats by using the data packet's destination, Source, and other such parameters, which have already been logged by either the manufacturer or an administrator beforehand. So, the data packet is detected to be out of the specific parameters considered to be the accepted ones; then, the stateless firewall protocol immediately identifies them as potential threats to the network.

stateless firewall

These stateless firewalls offer the simplest form of network security solutions which are still actively used by many companies globally.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a classic stateless firewall example. It is considered to be the most hassle-free way of receiving any sending files between the two devices. FTP enables users to transfer multiple directories and files without restricting the file size and allows scheduled transfers. FTP is faster than HTTP and offers to synchronize utility while being supported by almost all hosts. However, filtering the active FTP connections seems challenging on local devices and can often lead to server spoofing attacks.

What is Stateful Firewall?

A stateful firewall is responsible for tracking and monitoring the active network connections while keenly observing the incoming traffic to identify potential threats and malicious activities. A stateful firewall is situated at the OSI model's layers 3 and 4.

A stateful firewall is known for collecting the data for every connection made using it, forming the profiles of "safe" connections. So, after this, whenever any subsequent connection is made, it will be checked accordingly, matching the pre-defined list of attributes collected and prepared by this firewall. In case the data packets match the characteristics of the safe connection, then it is allowed. But if it fails to match the secure connection, it will be discarded immediately. But the function doesn’t end here like the stateless firewalls.

The data packets consist of valuable information about the data within them that, too, requires a thorough check to detect the presence of any potential threat. In that case, the stateful firewalls can perform deep packet inspection, which can check the data packet content and manage the network traffic adequately to identify and examine the threats.

The stateful firewalls can offer other services like tunnels and encryptions. These are effective for boosting performance as these are known for blocking malicious activities from getting access to the contents of any communications, thereby making the entire connection secure through the access control feature.

stateful firewall

What is the difference between Stateless and Stateful Firewall?

Parameters Stateless Firewalls Stateful Firewalls
Definition As per the definition, stateless firewalls are designed to protect your networks based on their stored information like destination and Source. However, it treats each data packet in isolation and fails to relate to the connection state. As per the definition, the stateful firewalls can filter the data packets based on the network connection's entire context while using the "state" information for speed packet processing.
Level of security Less secure than the stateful firewalls Offers an advanced level of security
Cost Cheaper option Slightly more expensive than the stateless firewalls
Speed/Performance Stateless ones are faster than stateful firewalls in heavy traffic scenarios Since these conduct a thorough examination of the data packets, hence the inspection is slower than the stateless firewalls
Connection Status No information is retained in this case either by the receiver or sender Some information about the connection is retained in the case of the stateful firewalls for future use.
Rule-Based Selection Yes No
Connection-Based Selection No Yes
Example File Transfer Protocol used for sending files between two computers Transport Control Protocol keeps track of the connections while using Source, destination, IP flags, and port number
Ideal For Ideal for small businesses as they face fewer cyber threats and are available within a strict budget Ideal for larger enterprises as they offer dynamic packet filtering to mitigate the potential risks and threats

Final Takeaway

Depending on your requirements, you must select between stateless and stateful firewalls. However, if you need an advanced level of security and deep packet inspection, nothing can compare to stateful firewalls' functionalities.

Select the best brands offering stateful firewall facilities at incredible prices across the global platform. Depending on your company budget and security needs, DC Gears, a reputed global brand, can help you choose the right partner to secure your network. With a worldwide presence in more than 40+ countries, DC Gears offer exceptional on-site professional services around the clock. So give us a call today to get better quotes on cybersecurity and network security services.