The innate immune system processes pathogen-induced signals into cell fate decisions. How information is turned to decision remains unknown. By combining stochastic mathematical modelling and experimentation, we demonstrate that feedback interactions between the IRF3, NF-κB and STAT pathways lead to switch-like responses to a viral analogue, poly(I:C), in contrast to pulse-like responses to bacterial LPS. Poly(I:C) activates both IRF3 and NF-κB, a requirement for induction of IFNβ expression. Autocrine IFNβ initiates a JAK/STAT-mediated positive-feedback stabilising nuclear IRF3 and NF-κB in first responder cells. Paracrine IFNβ, in turn, sensitises second responder cells through a JAK/STAT-mediated positive feedforward pathway that upregulates the positive-feedback components: RIG-I, PKR and OAS1A. In these sensitised cells, the 'live-or-die' decision phase following poly(I:C) exposure is shorter-they rapidly produce antiviral responses and commit to apoptosis. The interlinked positive feedback and feedforward signalling is key for coordinating cell fate decisions in cellular populations restricting pathogen spread.