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.
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.
2. NetStop Firewall
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.
3. AFWall+ (Root Required)
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!