BEST FIREWALL…. EVER?! // GlassWire Review – Personal Security & Privacy Monitoring

In my book, any app that can provide you with more information about the security of your system is something to use. I haven’t talked about security software much on this channel, mainly because it can be a touchy subject and I don’t wish to rattle any cages, but it’s time that changed. Today we’re going to be taking a look at GlassWire, an incredibly informative firewall software that truly helps you keep an eye on your privacy and security. GlassWire is a tool that gives you tons of information and control over data usage, network connections and firewall. It’s not free, but no good security program is.

I’ll have a special coupon code in the description to help out, if you like. Let’s take a look at the app running on my main Windows 10 workstation. For the main screen, you have a look at 5 things right up front. First you have a graph that shows all the network activity from your machine – both upstream and downstream – sorted by specific type of traffic and the app or service pulling the data. Downstream is blue, upstream is pink. The graph scrolls in real-time with timecodes and scales based on data rate.

You can zoom in or out on the timeline, pause it to inspect specific peaks, and view a history that goes back a long time, depending on which license you buy. The basic license has a 6-month history, the Pro license has a 1 year history, and the Elite license has an unlimited history. We’ll get into the other differences of the licenses later. You can also take screenshots of the graph at any time. It’s pretty neat – you have all the information you could need about what’s transmitting data from your machine. This is great overall – if visualizes your network’s information for you, actually makes it interesting to look at, and gives you more entry points to care about what’s happening on your network. Once you know what’s going on with your network, you’ll wanna make some changes. Head over to the Firewall tab. This shows you currently running apps and services, what host they’re connecting to, the upstream and downstream data rates, and then a preview of the graph. You can turn the firewall on or off or click to block individual apps from having internet access.

You also have the option of making apps ask to connect to external networks or blocking all traffic altogether in their “Lock down mode” – which can be great if you know your system is compromised and need to restrict all network access while you clean it up, something I wish I’d had in years past. I really like this, as it gives me MUCH more information and control than other firewall apps I’ve used, and generally just makes more sense. I’ve never quite understood why making a decent firewall UI is so hard for most apps, but GlassWire has gotten it right. The ability to block individual applications is fantastic for directly controlling what your apps do and for limiting ones that you’re… trying before you buy… yeah. As I dig around in the UI, I did have one complaint about it. When I scale up the window to a more legible size on my UHD display, I can’t resize column width, like with tables and spreadsheets. So at any size but the default, things start to look a little janky.

For a more detailed look at total cumulative data usage, we have the Usage tab. It shows a little chart of how much total data has been used, whether it’s outgoing or incoming and whether it’s external or local. Then it sorts by apps, host locations – which is cool to see for me since some of my higher-usage hosts are actually local boxes on my network – and then traffic type such as Dropbox LanSync, Skype Protocol or normal HTTP. Again, you can sort this a couple ways and view the full history of this information. It’s basically the same info as the Graph tab, but focusing on a different side of things. This can be useful to compare to your ISP’s data usage meters and if you have a data cap it can help keep an eye on your data usage and maybe argue a case if they say you went over your cap when you didn’t.

However keep in mind this is only measuring the machine it’s installed on, not your whole network. The network tab is really neat, as it shows all of the locally connected devices on your network. You can sort by IP address, MAC address, Vendor of the network adapters being used, or when the devices were first seen. You can choose to view by DNS or IP. DNS has the chance to display the network name of the device – for example, my render server is called “CineformBox” for the 10 gigabit connection and shows as “CineformBox dot lan” for the normal gigabit connection.

But some devices only show their IP address. If you choose IP Address then it only shows the IP address. This section is neat to see what you’re connected to locally and try to sniff out suspicious devices, but I have quite a few devices that just show up as “Unknown” – including my printer and wifi security camera – and you can’t do anything with these devices from this software. There’s nothing to click on or ability to change any settings here. It’s still great that it shows the information, though. But when suddenly my main Windows 10 rig decided to treat my network as “Public” instead of “Home” or “Private” and would not even give me the option to change it by normal means, thus cutting off my mounted network shares with my render server and NAS drives, it was frustrating to pull this up and have no control here since Windows 10’s networking options are a steaming pile of shit.

I don’t have any idea of GlassWire’s firewall or restrictions somehow changed my network profile or of Windows 10 is just screwing with me. It could be either. Or both not getting along. I’ve not seen this be a common issue in my research, however. While you’re using GlassWire, it will pop up alerts in the bottom-right-hand corner alerting you when an app accesses the internet for the first time, or information about the application has changed, a change in DNS settings, that kind of thing. The Alerts tab will show you a history of your alerts, sorted by date, apps or type. This is helpful – nothing’s more frustrating than getting a notification from an app when you’re not looking at the screen and then not being able to figure out what it said.

While I love that Windows 8 and 10 introduced integrated notifications, this drives me nuts – I’ll be in another room, hear the notification jingle and then never figure out what Windows wanted to tell me. Same thing with Malwarebytes sometimes, though they’ve gotten better about it. A raw list of alerts is the way to go, IMO, so kudos to GlassWire. This software can do a lot – and it can do any more if you pop open the settings and go to security. Here you can disable alerts or enable a couple really really cool ones that I haven’t seen in other security apps. Firstly, you have a monitor for network device activity. This would get annoying for me, but could work for others. You can enable “While you were away” alerts to group up activity when you’re detected as idle.

You can set a bandwidth cap size and a time period and have GlassWire alert you if the computer has gone over that bandwidth amount (so you’d wanna set it a little lower than your actual cap so you know when you’re getting close). But my favorite is that there’s an alert for when apps or sites access your camera and microphone! This is huge! In my opinion, as the “internet of things” concept starts becoming reality and all of our computers have cameras and microphones all over them, monitoring activity for these devices and general security regarding them goes way too overlooked. While you might get annoyed being told that everything under the sun accesses your camera and microphone, I think it’s REALLY important to have this information available. Here in the settings, you can clear your history, disable startup (but if you do it won’t be monitoring your system until you open GlassWire), change the language and graph skin, and set up server connectivity.

You can install this on multiple boxes and monitor all from one place! This is great for server environments. If you’re wanting to keep an eye on your machine or entire network, GlassWire does a great job. It tracks network activity better than any app I’ve used thus far – even Malwarebytes’ annoying “Website Alerts” – and it has the most intuitive firewall UI I could ask for. It will cost you a little, but it’s reasonably priced, in my opinion, and no good security app is really free. My only main concern is that the program is currently only available for Windows PCs. Their FAQ has a listing of “Do you have a Mac/Android/iPhone version?” with the answer being “Not yet, should we?” and I say YES! 100% YES! I’d also love to see a build for Linux. While there’s already a lot more security tools available for Linux, the intuitive nature of the UI for GlassWire would still be amazing to have, especially for newer users who are still concerned about security.

GlassWire comes in 3 plan tiers, with bulk pricing available for custom quotes. The Basic plan includes 1 PC coverage with 3 remote connections and a 6 month history view. The Pro plan covers 3 PCs and lets you see through 1 year of history, with 10 remote connections possible. And the Elite plan covers 10 PCs with unlimited history view and unlimited remote connections. All of these come with the full range of features. You’ll still need a formal antivirus to keep you safe, too, but this is perfect for monitoring. Link to GlassWire will be in the description below, along with a coupon code just for my viewers. Even if you don’t have the money right now, I definitely recommend putting GlassWire at the TOP of your list if you’re at all concerned about security. .

As found on Youtube