Some free firewall programs offer some protection, but you need one that goes the extra mile, offering advanced features and robust shielding. After much research, I compiled the best free firewalls for any device. Comodo and ZoneAlarm are the most feature-rich firewalls I discovered. That said, I must say that investing in a full-suite antivirus like Norton, with an advanced firewall included, is the best way to protect your online life. Try Norton for 60 days risk-free

Quick Guide: 5 Best Free Firewall Software

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The Best Free Firewalls for Any Platform and OS (Tested in January 2023)

1. Comodo Free Firewall — Learns Computer Habits and Creates Personalized Rules

Key Features: Comodo offers a popular free firewall that comes with a good number of features. The firewall works for Windows devices and supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and 11. Comodo Free Firewall scans all inbound and outbound traffic and blocks all malicious activities on your computer, keeping you safe from network attacks.

Once I installed the firewall, I noticed that Comodo’s firewall is automatically turned on. You can view this from the Settings tab, where you can adjust the firewall settings and add application rules, global rules, and port sets. You can also enable protection based on the network type. Comodo features a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that observes applications on your computer and detects any suspicious behavior, allowing you to allow or block the application. Apart from the firewall functions, Comodo offers other helpful security features:

Virtual Kiosk — a virtualized sandbox for testing unknown applications in a secure environment. Secure browser — Dragon and IceDragon browsers are built on the Chrome and Firefox engines. Kill Switch — monitors advanced processes and system activities, allowing you to block any system process. Rescue Disk — create a bootable CD or flash drive to clean up infected PCs. Secure Shopping — Launch websites and use payment details from a secure virtual container. Rating Scan — Scans commonly infected system areas for malware threats, certificates, and unrecognized files.

I like that Comodo’s firewall warned me immediately when it detected suspicious activity on my PC. The firewall protects your computer ports from hackers and keeps your private information safe. It offers a user-friendly interface and checks all network traffic to ensure they’re safe, but you have to install most security features separately, which consumes a lot of time. In comparison, Norton is much simpler to use. The firewall is automatically activated once you install the app. It even learns the behavior of applications on your computer and creates rules to protect it. Unlike Comodo, you can use Norton’s internet security features without installing them separately.

2. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall — Blocks Suspicious Behavior on Unsecured Networks

Key Features: ZoneAlarm is one of the most popular free standalone firewalls, boasting over 90 million downloads worldwide. There’s a free version and a premium version, with the free one, obviously having fewer features. It’s still very capable, though, offering the following features:

WiFi Protection — Protects against suspicious behavior of apps on unsecured networks. Traffic Monitoring — Monitors inbound and outbound traffic on your computer network. Early Boot Protection — Scans for rootkits and insecure operating system operations. Identity Protection — Protects personal data from theft (US only). Safe Search — Notifies you of suspicious on dangerous sites. Anti-phishing — Scans URLs and protects your private information from phishing attacks.

Once you install ZoneAlarm, you’ll be able to customize the firewall functions. The firewall settings consist of basic and advanced configurations. You’ll get a lot of requests to allow or deny connection requests. You can disable these alerts from the Game Mode settings in the Tools tab. You can also adjust your protection level between low, medium, and high. While the free version of ZoneAlarm Firewall gives you some level of control, it lacks features like Expert Mode, component control, and other advanced settings that come with firewalls offered by premium security suites such as Norton 360. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall prevents malicious changes to your device, keeping you safe from hackers, spyware, and other malware threats in the files you download. ZoneAlarm is compatible with the latest versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11.

3. GlassWire — Intuitive Visual Network Monitoring Tool

Key Features: GlassWire offers a user-friendly free firewall program. It actively protects your inbound and outbound traffic from network attacks. GlassWire’s interface is intuitive, allowing you to monitor every network activity on your computer. Once you install and launch the app, you’ll notice 5 tabs showing your overall communications as follows:

Graph — lets you see in real-time apps on your computer, the network they’re using, and the type of traffic connected to. Usage — shows how much data each app has used, host, and traffic type, such as HTTP, NTP, etc. Security — displays active apps, the inbound and outbound traffic consumption, and a GlassWire safety score. Alerts — shows logs of all network activities on your device. Things — allows you to view all WiFi networks you’re connected to.

The graph feature allowed me to view all the communications on my computer. Even more, I get warnings when there are unusual changes to any of my apps. I also like how GlassWire alerted me when unknown devices tried connecting to my network. You can snooze all alerts for 24 hours or use the incognito mode feature to stop all logs so that you don’t get overwhelmed with notifications. You’ll find the Firewall option in the Security tab, but you will have to toggle on the firewall option when you launch the app for the first time. Once on, you can choose from the dropdown firewall modes like “Ask to Connect,” which allow you to approve or block new app connections, or “Block All,” which automatically terminates all app connections except for the ones that Windows permits. In addition, you can create firewall profiles using existing rules (as implemented in the firewall mode) or restore to the default firewall rules. In the Settings tab, you can also choose the things GlassWire should monitor, such as ARP spoofing detection, RDP detection, DNS server settings, suspicious host monitor, and more. Overall, GlassWire offers a visually-appealing networking monitoring program. You can use it on Windows versions like Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. I like that you can use GlassWire for personal or business use, giving you room to protect all your devices. Once you sign up, you get a 7-day free trial of the full GlassWire firewall, after which only the free features will be available.

4. TinyWall Free Firewall — Lightweight Firewall With No Pop-up Approach

Key Features: TinyWall is a lightweight firewall program designed to protect you and minimize notifications. Built to provide additional protection than the Windows firewall, TinyWall blocks malicious applications that can alter the Windows firewall settings. It also stops viruses, worms, trojans, and other malware that can cause harm to your system. TinyWall provides different firewall protection modes:

Normal protection — protects against suspicious behavior of apps on all connections. Block all — stops both incoming and outgoing connections for all applications. Allow outgoing — blocks incoming connections and allows only outgoing connections for all programs. Autolearn — allows all traffic and remembers which applications have used the network.

I like TinyWall’s no-pop-up approach. Unlike many firewall programs that constantly bombard you with alerts and notifications, TinyWall prevents interaction for connection requests. Whenever it notices suspicious behavior, TinyWall automatically blocks the application without notifying you in real time. You can whitelist applications you trust so it doesn’t block them without your knowledge. You’ll find all active processes, port connections, and remote addresses in the Connections tab. You can right-click and terminate any suspicious process you notice or send it to VirusTotal through the Search button to find out if it is malicious.

Additionally, TinyWall provides other firewall protections as follows:

Port scan prevention — protects you from hackers trying to exploit open ports on your computer. Host’s file protection — prevents cybercriminals from redirecting your search requests by editing your host’s files on your PC. Firewall tampering protection — stops malicious programs from altering your firewall protection settings.

Overall, TinyWall is a user-friendly free firewall program that provides decent protection and prevents pop-up notifications. While it doesn’t offer as many features as other free options like Comodo and ZoneAlarm, it’s still very good software. You can use TinyWall for Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11.

5. Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition — Advanced Firewall Turns Your Computer Into a Security Appliance

Key Features: Sophos firewall provides comprehensive protection for home computers, email security, networks, and web applications. It would be my number 1 choice for features and security, but it came 5th because it requires a little more technical knowledge and requires you to install the Sophos OS onto a spare computer. This device then becomes your physical firewall. If you have such a computer though, you’ll find the Sophos Firewall helpful, as it beats most of the competition. Sophos Firewall Home Edition offers the following features:

Anti-malware — Protects your computer from viruses, trojans, spyware, and other malware. Web Security — stops malicious websites from infecting your computer. URL Filtering — Filters inappropriate sites to ensure your children don’t access prohibited websites. Application control — choose how specific programs connect to the internet. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) — monitors internet traffic and prevents unwanted communication. Traffic shaping — increases your internet bandwidth by prioritizing the applications that use your internet connection. Monitoring and reporting — get full reports on the web activities in your home and allocate usage quotas for specific family members.

Although you get all the above features for free, you’ll first have to install the Sophos Firewall OS, which involves creating a bootable USB drive, and wiping your existing data. Essentially, this turns your spare computer into a physical hardware firewall. The process is a bit technical, and beginners might find it challenging. However, when setting up the firewall on a test machine, I found helpful articles on Sophos’s community forum, which helped me to install the firewall. With so much technical knowledge required to set up, I only recommend Sophos Firewall for advanced users despite its rock-solid set of features. Overall, Sophos’s firewall provides comprehensive firewall protection. I like that it detects malware downloaded to my computer, which not many firewall programs provide. I also like the web filtering feature that protects my family from visiting phishing or inappropriate sites. Protect your home with Sophos

Bonus: Premium Antiviruses That Come With Firewalls to Fully Protect Your Devices in 2023

1. Norton 360 — Smart Firewall Automatically Create Rules for New Programs

Key Features: Norton offers robust firewall features on all its plans. It’s very easy to use Norton’s firewall as it requires no configuration to work. The Smart Firewall automatically creates rules for each program you open and monitors both inbound and outbound communications, protecting you from hackers and other cybercriminals. Apart from the automatic configuration capability, Norton provides firewall protection with features such as:

ARP and DNS spoofing protection — Prevents attackers from redirecting your traffic to a fake IP address or intercepting your traffic. Content Tampering Attack detection — blocks every attempt to compromise the integrity of your device. SSL strip attack detection — Stops a hacker from downgrading your connection from the more HTTPS to the less secure HTTP. SSL man-in-the-middle attack detection — Prevents an attacker from intercepting your WiFi connection or eavesdropping on your communication. Port access detection — Protects your computer’s ports from unauthorized access.

Norton’s firewall monitors suspicious traffic on your network and blocks every intrusion. You can create rules for specific programs on your computer that define how they connect to the internet. Norton has its own “whitelist” (a known and trusted list) of popular known programs, such as Microsoft Word and Skype, so none of these apps will be blocked by the firewall. Norton offers multiple plans with firewall protection features:

Norton Antivirus Plus — It covers only 1 device and offers additional features like online threat protection, 2GB cloud backup, a firewall, and a password manager. Norton 360 Standard — Includes all the features of the Plus Plan, supports up to 3 devices, PC Safecam, and dark web monitoring. Norton 360 Deluxe — Supports all the features in the Standard plan. It covers 5 devices and offers 50GB of cloud storage, parental controls, school time, VPN, and a privacy monitor. Norton 360 Select — Has all the Deluxe plan features, offers 250GB cloud storage, covers 10 devices, stolen wallet protection, identity restoration, credit monitoring, and ID verification monitoring.

I like that Norton offers excellent security and tons of features. It’s easy to use and compatible with popular devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can even use Norton for free for 7 days when you link your payment information. I recommend signing up for the Deluxe, which provides comprehensive internet protection tools. Norton’s plans start at $19.99, which lets you stay protected without breaking the bank. Try Norton 360 risk-free

2. Bitdefender Firewall — Best Firewall for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

Key Features: Bitdefender offers high-end firewall protection, among other features, as part of its security suite. The firewall feature is included in its Internet Security and Total Security plans, which offer antivirus protection, web protection, and other security tools that make Bitdefender one of the top antivirus programs on the market. I like Bitdefender’s customizable firewall functions. Once you install Bitdefender’s app, the firewall is automatically activated. It works with your network type (home and public) and analyzes the applications installed on your device and their connections to the internet. Bitdefender’s firewall stops all unauthorized connections for inbound and outbound traffic. You can also use the Bitdefender firewall’s advanced settings to set rules that control how specific applications connect to the internet. You can also configure other advanced settings like:

Port scan protection — blocks attempts by hackers to find out which ports are open. Alert Mode — notifies you when an app tries to go online, allowing you to block or allow the connection. Stealth Mode — Prevents you from being detected when you are connected to a public network. Default application behavior — automatically defines rules for applications without prior rules.

From my tests, I found Bitdefender’s firewall is very easy to configure. It also functioned well, blocking all network attacks, so I’m confident it can stop cybercriminals from accessing my computer. Bitdefender has multiple plans that include firewall protection. However, only mid-tier and top-tier plans like Internet Security, Total Security, and Premium Security offer firewall protection. I like that the Total Security plan offers comprehensive protection against all forms of cyber threats. You can try the Bitdefender Total Security plan and use its robust firewall protection for up to 10 devices. Bitdefender’s subscription starts at $19.99, but to get the firewall, you have to upgrade to the Internet Security, Total Security, or Premium Security plans. You also get extra features such as antivirus, parental controls, webcam protection, and PC optimizer. Try Bitdefender for free

3. Panda Antivirus Firewall — Prevents Intruders and Unauthorized Entry Into Your System

Key Features: Panda offers robust firewall protection in its antivirus program. While the Windows Defender firewall does a pretty decent job, I was impressed to see Panda offer more customizable firewall functions. Once you download the Panda antivirus, you can easily use the firewall feature. It monitors your traffic and offers different levels of protection depending on your network type. The less secure the network, the more checks Panda runs on incoming traffic. Apart from the basic firewall functions, Panda’s firewall allows you to configure your firewall settings and set rules for specific programs on your computer. You can do this under the Programs Controls settings tab, where you can add new rules or edit existing rules. Panda offers different paid plans which offer firewall protection and other features:

Essential — Offers firewall, real-time protection, and WiFi protection. Advanced — Includes all the Essential features, including parental controls, ID protection, and Ransomware protection. Complete — Has all the Advanced features and password manager, data shield, and device cleanup tool. Premium — Offers all the Complete plan features, including unlimited VPN, software update manager, and 24/7 premium support.

All Panda plans are decently priced and start at only $17.49. However, I noticed that the Premium plan offers the best value. You can get firewall protection for your PC on all of Panda’s plans using the 30-day free trial. In addition, you get protection against malware threats, VPN, and a password manager within the antivirus program. Get protected with Panda

4 Easy Steps: How to Protect Your Device With a Firewall

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Quick Comparison Table: 2023’s Best Free Firewalls

How I Tested & Ranked the Top Free Firewall Software

Basic Firewall protection — I selected the software that offered automatic firewall protection for home and public networks. Advanced Firewall rules — I chose the firewall tools that can configure firewall rules for specific apps and other programs. Port blocking features — I focused on selecting the firewalls that offer port protection features that prevent hackers from exploiting open ports. Malware protection — I ensured that the firewall programs also provide malware protection tools that block malicious files and programs. Ease of Use — I prioritized the firewall programs that are easy to configure, consume fewer system resources, and have apps for all the popular operating systems like macOS, Android, iOS, and Windows. Free — I only selected free firewall programs or those included in antivirus programs with a generous free trial period.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a security system that monitors your internet traffic and decides whether to allow or block what’s being transmitted. It’s like a body scanner at an airport that checks each person coming in and going out to ensure that they aren’t moving any illegal substance. Similarly, a firewall scans all incoming and outgoing traffic on a network and blocks any malicious traffic with predefined rules.

What’s the best firewall?

Norton offers the best firewall program within its antivirus suite. I found Norton’s firewall very effective at blocking all network attacks and keeping hackers at bay. You can configure rules for specific programs and block all insecure connections. Norton also protects you from malware attacks with its robust antivirus engine.

How does a firewall work?

A firewall monitors all inbound and outbound traffic on your computer network and filters out malicious traffic using predefined rules. There are several techniques, but the most important thing is that a good firewall can prevent hackers from exploiting your connections and attacking your computer. You can create specific rules that stop suspicious apps from connecting to the internet and sharing your personal information with bad actors.

Why do I need a firewall?

Because it’s the first and possibly most crucial line of defense against cyberattacks. Essentially, a firewall prevents unauthorized access to your computer system. All the firewalls on this list provide robust protection against cyber attacks and prevent hackers from stealing your private information. It will protect your computer from attacks that leverage your network traffic.

Can a firewall protect me from phishing?

It depends on the specific firewall. Some of the firewalls on my list offer phishing protection within the software. A good firewall such as Norton and Bitdefender protects you from phishing attacks. For instance, Norton’s firewall, part of its antivirus programs, detects 99% of phishing threats, keeping you safe from fake websites.

Will a firewall slow down my internet?

A good firewall should not slow down network traffic. A lightweight firewall program like the ones that I compiled on this list shouldn’t affect your network performance. However, depending on your hardware, some firewall programs can slow down your data transmission speed. Firewalls in antivirus programs like Norton wouldn’t affect your network performance much, even for standard PCs.

Can I use a free firewall?

Yes, but you’d be way better with a premium one. Some firewall programs are safe and monitor all inbound and outbound traffic for suspicious activities. However, most free firewalls don’t offer advanced features that help you to configure your network security. In contrast, premium firewall programs like Norton offer high-end protection from cyber attacks and malware threats that can be transmitted to your computer over an unsecured network. Stay safe online with Norton

Protect Your Computer From Network Attacks With the Best Free Firewalls

If you connect to public WiFi networks often, you’re likely to be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals can exploit your network traffic to steal your data or infect your system with malware. The good news is a firewall can protect your device from these attacks. However, most firewalls offer basic protection, which could still leave you vulnerable to hackers. After thorough research, I found the best free firewalls to protect your computer. ZoneAlarm and Comodo are great free firewall options, but if you have a little dollar to spare, you’ll find that Norton offers a more robust firewall. A firewall is just one layer of security. Antiviruses and VPNs also provide an additional layer of protection. While a VPN encrypts your internet connection, keeping your internet activities away from hackers, antivirus protects you from malware threats, among other security needs. Luckily, a few antivirus software offer a built-in VPN and other security features. Protect your devices with Norton

Overall Best Antiviruses for 2023 (That Also Offer Firewall Protection)