3 of the Best Firewall Apps for Android in 2018

Android security works a little differently than PC security, which means you don’t need a firewall on your Android device to the same extent you do your PC. The power management functions on an Android phone mean that it’s not constantly “open for traffic” and that you’re unlikely to get malicious communications from the Internet (or calling to the Internet).

Still, more and more apps demand Internet connections in the background, and there are a lot of malicious ones out there, sending out data about you that you’d rather keep private.

Android firewalls are great for taking more control over your phone’s communications with the Internet – blocking app Internet access, blocking IP addresses, controlling bandwidth, and so on.

Here are the three best Android firewall apps you can use in 2018.

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Functioning as part VPN, part app-controlling firewall, NetGuard is an accessible way to keep close control over your phone’s Internet connectivity.

It has its own built-in VPN, which you need to activate before you take control over which apps have access to the Internet and which don’t (or just blocking app Web access altogether). It’s very simple to use, with the Wi-Fi and mobile data icons next to the apps letting you instantly tap them to enable and disable online connectivity through both connections.

You can do a few more things, like ad blocking and keeping a log of exactly when your phone connects to the Internet in the background, but it’s equally handy for those who like to keep things simple.

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If even NetGuard is a bit too hands-on for you, how about this: a giant red button that you whack to block every app on your device connecting to the Internet. More a net-activity kill switch than a firewall, but it’s undeniably effective.

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If you’ve rooted your phone, then one of the perks is that you can really dig deeper into controlling everything on it, including Web traffic.

As with other firewall apps, AFWall+ has the usual list of apps where you can see which apps are “phoning home” and act accordingly.

The good thing here is that it doesn’t need to tunnel your connection through a VPN to start working, but if you are connected to a VPN, then it will continue working just as well. The firewall is “iptables”-based, which means it works at a deeper layer of your Android OS to control Internet traffic. It also means you get the same level of control as with other firewalls but get to maintain top Internet speeds.

Also, as a kind of Seal of Quality, it’s worth knowing that this is made by one of the developers at XDA and has a good following from people “in the know.”

That may not seem like a lot of options above, but we’re confident that they’re the best you can get. Once-popular firewalls like LostNet Firewall and NoRoot Firewall have either disappeared or are no longer maintained, whittling things down quite a bit. These are your safest firewall bets in 2018!

4 comments

  1. I would definitely include Surfshark into this list as that VPN is quite easy to use, plus interface of the app is quite basic too so even person who is new to the VPN world would understand how to use it.

  2. Savvy enough to be looking here, but not really all that savvy. So confusing. How does an average smart phone user Root the phone? Whats the diff btwn firewall and vpn?
    What is PBX? I use duck duck go. Is that good? Is it a browser or a search engine only?
    Does it work well with these firewalls? Tor is impossible, so slow. Which browsers or engines or vpns should i combine w these firewalls? Android LG phone is my only internet access. I switch off w iphones tho.

    • You sure ask a lot of questions quickly.
      I am no real expert, but I can try to help however I can. I have answered them in order as you asked, for the most part.

      The average smartphone user probably should not root their phone. Look it up for more details as to why. Some phones cannot even be rooted.

      A firewall simply allows you to control internet access of the apps on your phone. ‘No root’ firewall apps do this by using an android feature called VPN (virtual private network) service.

      The difference between a firewall that uses this method and a real VPN is that the firewall is not a real VPN. It is only using this function of your phone to work. A real VPN can change your apparent IP address, location, etc. That is not a function of a firewall.

      I dont use PBX. I have no idea.

      Duckduckgo is available for use both as a search engine (so that it can be used with most any browser) and as an app.
      It appears to be ok, I use it myself quite a bit. It claims to have high security standards, but this is largely affected by the user settings. The user settings can be difficult to maintain, unless you figure out how to copy and paste the settings URL as your browser’s homepage, or else you never clear your browser cookies (not recommended). Mostly, I like the search results, which are less biased than Google. Duckduckgo claims that they don’t track you, but they do collect what they consider to be unidentifiable information. So they collect something, but supposedly it can’t be traced back to you.
      Just because your search engine isn’t tracking you, does not mean that the websites that you visit are not. This is where a proxy, such as TOR, or even Duckduckgo can help. There is a proxy feature in the Duckduckgo search engine, you just touch ‘proxy’ underneath the search results. Supposedly this will open the site on Duckduckgo’s servers, and you will view it from their servers instead of directly.

      Duckduckgo will work just like any other search engine will with a firewall.

      Yes, TOR is slower than normal web use, due to how it works. Some of this can be helped by using a fast browser. Firefox is slower than molasses in Alaska, so I use Lightning Browser. Some browsers are not TOR compatible.

      I don’t use iphone, but the android browsers and search engines I do use are:

      FOSS Browser – Searx, Duckduckgo, Startpage, Qwant

      Lightning Browser – Duckduckgo

      Privacy Browser – Searx

      If I want a real VPN, I normally use TOR, as it can be used just for that function alone, and it does not affect speed near as much when used in that way.
      Another VPN that works good is Sky VPN. It is free, and works great. You just have to watch some short ads to obtain time, or else it will cut off every 30 minutes. For a short jog on the web, it is fine.

      Some VPN apps do not really hide your ID or location, but as far as I know Sky VPN does a good job.

      You will find that android only allows one VPN service at a time, so you will not be able to run any VPN app at the same time as a firewall that uses the VPN function to work.
      This can be gone around by rooting your phone and using a firewall that uses root to work, instead of the VPN service.

      You may also find that any apps that you might use for VOIP can be affected by an app using the VPN system as well.

      Hope this answered some of your questions, and hope the info helps.

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