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Which are the Best Firewall Software for Windows, Mac, and Linux ?
The threat of cyber-attacks like hacking, phishing, spam, and malware are omnipresent, no matter what Operating System (OS) you use. Systems come with in-built firewalls, but guess what? The bad guys find ways to get around them.
As a beginner, it may be confusing to know what to use. This article will guide you through the best firewalls for your system, categorized by OS.
Windows ranks highest as the most popular in usage and the most vulnerable to attack.
Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition
Strengths − Sophos is a cutting-edge network security system that doesn't just protect your device and installed software. It also secures your internet connection and web activity and has anti-malware, URL filtering, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), and application control. This is especially great for apartments that have shared or standard WiFi. Upon threat detection, the system at risk is isolated. All the benefits of a business firewall system at home - that too for free!
Weaknesses − Sophos is a hassle to install because you need a minimum of 6 GB RAM, which erases your entire existing OS and any related software. You can't re-install Windows again, either.
Norton 360 Premium
Strengths − This software is paid but worth the massive bouquet of services you get in return. You get real-time protection against phishing websites, monitoring of online activity, secure VPN, and online cloud backup. Your details are also safeguarded from the Dark Web via alerts.
Weaknesses − It is pretty extensive and time-consuming to install. Each device within the network needs to have the VPN installed separately. The subscription auto-renews even if you don't want it, so you may have to contact customer service. Depending on your system, Norton might slow down some programs as well.
Strengths − Tiny Wall is another free, open-source option. It does not have constant pop-ups that can be distracting. It configures easily with the Windows system and also provides easy whitelisting of programs. You can blocklist unwanted ports and create domain exceptions using the' auto-learn feature.
Weaknesses − While TinyWall is lightweight and takes up only 1 MB of space, it doesn't have advanced features offering higher levels of protection.
Strengths − Little Snitch allows you to enable or disable the transmission of sensitive information and generates warnings about potentially malicious program installations. Control incoming and outbound information or connections based on particular IP addresses/ applications by regulating permission on the Network Monitor. You can also opt for the silent mode, so you don't receive millions of notifications.
Weaknesses − The premium option is quite pricey, especially if you buy it for many users. But for a single user, it is reasonable, given the host of services it provides and the strong privacy measures it ensures. Just make sure you update it regularly.
Strengths − This software has different iterations like Murus Lite, unrestricted, Murus Basic, and Murus Pro. Murus Lite offers basic filtering of incoming connections and port management. Murus Basic and Pro are paid versions that enable customizing inbound traffic and have straightforward, user-friendly interfaces. Murus Pro is a sister app of Vallum, which gives you supplements like bandwidth management and prevention of data leakage.
Weaknesses − Murus Pro has so many features that it needs to be clarified for first-time users. On the other hand, Murus Lite is too basic for users with many needs.
Strengths − This software is straightforward. Each URL or application will not be notified. Instead, you can check all the links running simultaneously and block those you don't want. The license is relatively cheap, even for a team with unlimited users. It's easy to understand, very light and fast, and doesn't need constant maintenance.
Weaknesses − It offers only essential bare-minimum block functions. This works if you only want to stop a few applications, not if you wish to have multiple, layered settings.
Strengths − IPFire is a complete operating system that doubles up as a firewall, proxy server, and VPN gateway. This firewall software can be set up quickly, navigated, and operated with minimum effort. It prevents and detects any intruders. It's also very user-friendly with color coding and free to boot.
Weaknesses − There are a few technical areas for improvement, such as the lack of a logout button on the web interface, and the features could be more refined. The community that uses IPFire is also tiny, which makes troubleshooting harder.
Strengths − This open-source firewall provides weekly security updates, up-to-date documentation, and support in multiple languages. It does not just filter web activity; it assesses individual data packets using Inline Intrusion Prevention System. This covers even the slightest risk. Plus, you can add lots of features as per your needs.
Weaknesses − The interface could be more user-friendly. Integrating this software with certain public clouds may also be difficult, as different platforms require different coding and configuration.
Strengths − There are two editions of ClearOS- an open-source, free community edition and a paid, flagship one. They are easily deployed with instructions and guidance documentation available through the web-based interface. It is a Unified Threat Management (UTM) system that offers router security and has more than 120 functions and voluntary add-on features.
Weaknesses − While there is sufficient documentation, it is only sometimes up-to-date. The Community edition isn't tested for professional use, and privacy becomes an issue since you have to register your server in all cases.
This was an orientation into some of the leading firewall software options in the market. There are many more choices for each operating system, like OpenWRT, Avast Premium Security, and Peerblock, to name a few. Ultimately, it comes down to your network discovery needs, your web usage and security requirements, and your budget. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what suits you best.
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