The security of data plays a very crucial role in every aspect of businesses. As the technologies and world is growing at an alarming rate, threats, and attacks on data or networks have become very common. Protecting the business data, personal data, or any confidential data from threats is very significant, and nowadays, it has become a need for humans. One such technology that ensures the security of the network and protects data is the Firewall.
What is the Firewall Software?
A firewall is a network security and cybersecurity tool that filters the network traffic and blocks unauthorized access to the company’s data or personal data on the computer system. This firewall tool can be either software or hardware. If you possess a firewall software or hardware device, it protects your computer connected to a particular network or the internet. So, having the best firewall software is essential.
There are specific network security rules defined. In controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic, the firewall program follows these rules and detects the data’s threats. We know that data transfers in the form of packets between the computer system and the server and then through the router.
If these data packets follow the security rules, they are allowed to transfer. But if these data packets violate the laws, they are detected as unwanted and malicious. Such unwanted data packets are blocked by the firewall software and protect the computer’s data from unauthorized access.
Need for Firewall Software
1. To prevent unauthorized access:
It happens many times that your computer system might be under someone’s control. In such cases, the data from your system gets leaked and stolen. To prevent such attacks on your computer system from remote snoops, firewall software is required.
2. Protects online gamers:
Many youngsters play online games. Playing online games has become a fashion in today’s era. But, these games are highly potential and prone to security attacks. There is multiple malware that attacks online gamers and their systems. So, using firewall software will prevent such malware. It will block the hackers from entering into the computer system.
3. Block unwanted contents:
Apart from protecting the computer system from remote hackers and snoops, firewall software can also block unwanted content over the internet. Such activity is referred to as content filtering. Using firewall software, you can block any website on the internet.
Types of Firewall
Firewall software devices are divided into specific groups based on their structure and mode of actions. Below is the list of the kinds of firewall software:
- Packet-filtering firewalls
- Circuit-level gateways
- Stateful inspection firewalls
- Application-level gateways
- Next-gen firewalls
- Hardware firewalls
- Cloud firewalls
Let us have a discussion about each type of the above-stated firewall software.
1. Packet-filtering firewalls:
One of the oldest and commonly used types of firewall software is the packet-filtering firewall. As its name suggests, the firewall checks the packets from the router through which the data flows. These packets are inspected for the source IP address, destination IP address, port number, and other information.
If these packets do not violate the network security rules, they are not blocked and used on the computer system. Otherwise, the firewall blocks those packets that break the rules.
2. Circuit-level gateways:
Circuit-level gateways are other simplest forms of firewall software. They are performed at the session layer of the OSI model. In the Circuit-level gateways, it verifies TCP handshake. However, this handshake implies the session from which the detailed data in the form of packet requested by the user is legal and authorized.
The circuit-level gateways are not highly secured. If the packet’s TCP handshake is verified, but there is still some malware in the packet, it is transferred to users.
3. Stateful inspection firewalls:
The third type of firewall is the Stateful inspection firewall. It is the combination of the packet-filtering and the circuit-level gateways. This type of firewall was developed to ensure a higher level of security than the above-stated firewalls. But, it consumes a higher amount of computer resources that may slow down the transfer speed of legal packets.
4. Application-level gateways:
Application-level gateways are also called proxy firewalls. This type of firewall works at the application layer of the OSI model. The proxy firewall filters the data packets at the application layer and protects the network resources. It acts as an interface between users who access data and the server that provides data to users.
The extra connection between users and server is created using a proxy firewall. Additionally, this firewall also verifies the packets’ data and identifies whether there is any malware present or not.
5. Next-gen firewalls:
Next-gen firewalls are the modern and recently developed firewalls. This kind of firewall is developed for in-depth inspection of data packets, TCP handshakes, and checking the data packets’ surface level. The great advantage of using such firewall software is it incorporates the Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). This system automatically prevents network attacks.
Software-firewalls are software devices that are installed inside the computer systems. There is no need for any hardware or a cloud-based server. Software-firewalls are used by individuals or for personal computers. Users can easily configure these kinds of firewalls. Additionally, they are highly secure and portable.
Unlike software-firewalls, hardware-firewalls require a particular device to install on. So, these categories of firewalls are not portable. Users feel it is challenging to configure hardware-firewalls. But, the great advantage is it is not easily prone to any threat. As hardware-firewalls require different installation device, it does not affect the computer systems’ performance and speed.
8. Cloud firewalls:
Cloud firewalls are the cloud-based firewalls. This category of firewall is simple to use and highly portable. Cloud firewalls are also referred to as Firewalls-as-a-Service (FaaS).
Factors to consider while choosing the best firewall software
Before selecting the best firewall software, it is very significant to consider some specific factors. You should primarily focus on two significant aspects:
- Can the firewall be used as a router?
- Can it control the remote access to the network?
The above two factors are mandatory to consider while selecting the best firewall software. Additionally, there are certainly other factors to consider. They are listed below:
- It will help if you choose the firewall that can filter spam and unwanted websites. This firewall feature of filtering websites allows you to block the content or websites that annoy you.
- The next significant element to take into account is to check whether a firewall has an antivirus scanner. Having a built-in antivirus scanner in the firewall can scan viruses from the web pages and links on the internet.
- You must certify that your firewall is capable of inspecting encrypted traffic.
List of the Best Free Firewall
- SolarWinds Network Firewall Security Management
- System Mechanic Ultimate Defense
- Comodo Firewall
- AVS Firewall
- OpenDNS Home
SolarWinds Network Firewall Security Management is one of the commonly used firewall software across the globe. It incorporates more advanced and security features that block malware over the network traffic. The Security Event Manager in this software is responsible for protecting the data from threats.
Additionally, many IT companies use this firewall software to get real-time visibility of the network. The Security Event Manager enables users to suspect malicious activities over the system. Only the admins are allowed to make modifications to the firewall policies. Users are provided with a provision of creating customizable firewall filters.
The Security Event Manager performs the following activities:
- It keeps your network free from threats and logs all devices in a central location.
- This event manager has event correlation rules that track and suspect the malicious network event.
- It offers users with router and firewall security auditing and compliance features.
Price: SolarWinds Network, Firewall Security Management, is available at a price starting from $4805.
System Mechanic Ultimate Defense is an all-in-one firewall software device that offers performance, protection, and privacy features. Additionally, it also provides an extensive suite of other features. The features of this device include:
- It optimizes the computer system’s performance.
- Protects your online privacy from malware.
- Your passwords are controlled and monitored securely.
- It removes and blocks malware efficiently.
- Recovering the deleted data and files is an additional feature incorporated in it.
The Privacy Guardian in the System Mechanic Ultimate Defense allows users to control all the online habits over the network, suspects malicious emails, and automatically deletes all tracking cookies.
Another feature of ByePass in this firewall software keeps all organization and enterprise passwords safe and secure. The best anti-malware solution encompassed in the System Mechanic Ultimate Defense is the System Shield. The System Shield uses the two effective methodologies:
- A Reactive Method
- A Proactive Method
The Search and receiver feature uses robust technology to recover deleted and lost data, like documents, files, emails, videos, music, etc. There is a DriveScrubber that uses a military-grade technology and enables users to remove all sensitive information from the external drives.
Price: System Mechanic Ultimate Defense comes with three editions, Basic, Pro, and Ultimate Defense. The basic plan is available at $49.95, the pro at $69.95, and the Ultimate Defense at $79.95.
Zone Alarm is one of the smartest and best firewall software devices used by many IT enterprises. It is a very well-known device that protects any organization from cyberattacks. Using this software tool, users can prevent threats like malware, spyware, phishing attacks, viruses, etc.
The characteristics of the Zone alarm are listed below:
- Zone Alarm is one of the leading firewall software devices that keeps the user’s PC safe from remote hackers and intruders. It involves a two-way firewall method and prevents inbound and outbound threats.
- This firewall software can also be used as an anti-virus tool. It incorporates a sturdy anti-virus and anti-spyware system that protects any system from Trojans and harmful viruses.
- Phishing attacks have become popular these days. These attacks steal confidential data from an organization. Zone Alarm has an anti-phishing feature that avoids cybercriminals to steal data.
- Zone Alarm has the Anti-Ransomware feature. It blocks snoop from encrypting the credential information.
- You can also keep your mobiles safe using this firewall software.
Price: Zone Alarm is used widely and trusted by more than 100,000,000 users. The free version of the Zone Alarm is free to use. The Firewall and Antivirus package of Zone Alarm costs $44.95 per year.
Comodo Firewall is an award-winning and outstanding firewall software device used worldwide. It is packed with multiple extraordinary characteristics that make it stand at the top position. It offers an extensive range of SSL certificates as follows:
- Comodo SSL Certificate
- Wildcard SSL Certificate
- Extended Validation SSL
- UCC SSL
- Free SSL Certificate.
Let us have a glance at the award-winning features of the Comodo Firewall.
- One of the smartest features of this software is Default Deny protection. It ensures that only the safe applications of the computer system run.
- The feature of Prevention-based Security enables users to curb viruses, threats, and cyberattacks to get into the system.
- Auto Sandbox Technology in the Comodo Firewall is a potential platform for unsafe applications. This technology makes sure that all viruses and malware are separated from the system.
- Another feature to detect zero-day malware is cloud-based behavior analysis.
- The interface of the Comodo firewall software is highly intuitive and user-friendly. Additionally, it is effortless to configure for novice users.
Price: This software comes with two versions, ComodoFree Firewall and Comodo Full Protection. Comodo Full Protection version requires a yearly subscription of $39.99.
TinyWall firewall is a lightweight and easy to use software tool. This firewall is best suited for Windows 10 systems and preserves the system’s being hacked or stolen. The great advantage of using this application is it is an open-source and free device.
TinyWall has several advanced and user-friendly features. They are listed below:
- The feature of non-intrusive operation enables users to protect their systems and prevents annoying pop-up notifications while working.
- Users get the advantage of using the TinyWall tool as it consumes significantly fewer computer resources. So, the effect of this device on the computer system’s performance is very negligible.
- Multiple convenient features are offered by this tool that makes it easier for novice users to handle comfortably.
- It carries out safe operations without the installation of any driver and kernel-element. This ensures that the computer system is reliable and stable.
- Additionally, it protects Wi-Fi networks, controls LAN options, scans viruses and malware effectively, no advertisements, etc.
Another open-source, free to use, and best firewall software is the Netdefender. People use this firewall tool to remove all network traffic, block ping commands, and scan IP range or address. It has a straightforward interface that curbs all network traffic with a single click.
Netdefender software is compatible to work with Microsoft Windows 2000 and all later versions. Below are some extraordinary characteristics of Netdefender:
- With just a single click, users can block all network traffic. Also, you can allow the traffic with just simple steps.
- Netdefender is the packet filter firewall, which is the oldest type.
- Based on a particular enterprise’s security requirements, users can add new rules, modify the existing laws, and delete the previous regulations.
- It provides high-level security against spoofing ARF.
- There is a built-in port scanner in Netdefender.
- Users can check the information about any application that is currently executing on the computer.
Glasswire is again an open-source firewall software tool that offers a comprehensive list of features. It is an all-in-one firewall tool used by almost all IT enterprises to carry out secure and safe business activities. The significant part of this software is that it automatically blocks it without disturbing users whenever the malware is suspected.
The features of the GlassWire include:
- The Visual Network Monitoring feature enables users to view all previous and current network activities graphically.
- As the Glasswire represents all the network activities in the form of the graph, it becomes easier to make internet activities easier and secure.
- The feature of multiple remote server monitoring enables users to control all remote network activities on the local computer system.
- It incorporates several toolboxes, like
- System File Change Detection
- Device List Change Detection
- ARP Spoofing Monitoring
- App Info Change Detection
- The only drawback of the GlassWire is it does not have malware detection and perfect intrusion detection.
One of the highly secure and best firewall software tools is PeerBlock. It has all the essential firewall characteristics. The significant part of this device is that it protects the system from incoming cyberattacks and threats. PeerBlock is another fully-featured and open-source firewall tool.
Features provided by the PeerBlock are as follows:
- PeerBlock blacks any kind of malware and spyware affecting the system.
- A document of the blacklist is maintained that contains all websites over the internet to be blocked.
- Another extraordinary feature of this software is, it allows users whether to display the IP and HTTP tracker or not. Also, users can control the display of the tracker’s time, source and destination address, IP address, and protocol.
- The novice users feel comfortable using this tool as it has a user-friendly interface.
The only drawback of PeerBlock is it does not offer regular updates. For beginners, IT knowledge is required.
Another powerful and best firewall software tool is AVS Firewall. All the internal and external network links of the computer system are protected using this software tool. This tool protects users’ networks from malicious links, malware, and spyware.
AVS Firewall is an open-source and smartest protection tool. Like all other firewall tools, it also provides essential firewall characteristics. The significant features of AVS Firewall contain:
- It protects the enterprise’s data from malicious attacks, intrusions, and unauthorised access.
- Users can get rid of annoying and irritating ads and pop-up notifications through this firewall tool.
- It has registry defender elements in it that preserve the modified Registry.
- The feature of anti-banner components avoids advertisements and annoying programs on the system.
- The content filtering feature allows users to block unwanted and adult websites.
But, the AVS Firewall requires additional software to install on the computer systems.
OpenDNS Home is the best firewall software tool that incorporates advanced and high-level security characteristics. This tool is compatible to install on Microsoft Windows 10 operating systems. OpenDNS Home has a clean and straightforward interface. It is suitable for personal use and small businesses.
OpenDNS Home has high-quality protection features. These features are:
- It is a more reliable, faster, and secure firewall software tool that blocks all network traffic and prevents malware and spyware.
- The feature of anti-phishing enables users to prevent phishing attacks over the network.
- OpenDNS Home also has a content filtering feature that allows you to block the desired and adult websites. It also ensures parental control security.
- If there is any non-trusted and suspicious website, this firewall automatically blocks it.
- The OpenDNS Home offers multiple filtering options.
It comes with three home packages, OpenDNS Home, OpenDNS Home VIP, and OpenDNS Family Shield.
We have covered some of the best firewall software tools that are free to use. Each firewall software device has unique and outstanding features, along with the protection and security features. Some firewall tools also contain extraordinary features.
If you want your firewall tool to optimise the system’s performance and protect from malware, you should opt for either Zone Alarm, Glasswire, or Comodo Firewall software tools.
The Firewall applications, like PeerBlock and TinyWall, offer visibility of the network and control the applications. Additionally, they provide real-time notifications. The tools, like OpenDNS Home, Netdefender, and Glasswire, are perfect for high-level security infrastructure. Based on the organizations’ needs, you can choose any of the above-listed firewall software.