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The Best Firewalls of 2021

Many are turning to firewalls and security suites to warn off unauthorised attacks; Browse some of the best paid and unpaid firewall options

Developments in anti-virus and malware technology are continuously being improved in order to combat the rise in cybercrime which is also evolving and creating more risk, firewalls are still seen as an essential recommendation and requirement for PC users. Antivirus programmes are used to prevent malicious activity on the users' PC but it has been seen that some softwares and apps are able to abuse permissions in creating 'unauthorised network connections', which may be used to collect personal data. Alternatively, firewalls ensure that the software downloaded on a user's PC has express permissions to connect online while simultaneously blocking remote attacks.

The role of firewall services are gaining traction where a lot of work is remote and on the cloud due to the pandemic. Web application firewalls are able to protect application programming interfaces, mobile apps and other resources from "distributed-denial-of-service" attacks, bots and other form of attack. This is done by monitoring for strange activity, logging events and sending alerts or making changes to stop threats for online apps, including those in the cloud.

Some firewalls are provided as standalone products, while others are included in an internet security suite from antivirus companies, and offer a range of other protection features. Business users can also enjoy the protection of cloud firewalls in order to enable a safer 'work from home' online environment.

Below you'll find some of the best paid firewall services, followed by some of the best free options available.

Paid Options;

1. Bitdefender Total Security

Bitdefender Total Security is an internet security suite that offers a great firewall as well as a range of other security protections, including anti-virus protection, and multi-layered malware protection which also protects against ransomware. Further, Bitdefender includes anti-phishing, anti-fraud, and anti-theft options in the suite as well as a performance optimizer. They offer a host of privacy protection options including anti-tracking, parental controls, file encryption and shredder.

The suite isn't limited to Windows, it can also be used to protect against attacks for Android, macOS, and iOS. A product licence (at £29.99) allows you to use the software on up to 5 different devices, so you can use Bitdefender Total Security for your home PC as well as smartphone, and any other devices you may have.

2. Avast Premium Security

Avast Premium Security is another internet security suite which has two options, a single PC use, or up to 10 devices including macOS, iOS, and Android, priced at £59.99 a year. As well as firewall protection, Avast Premium Security also offers anti-ransomware protection, file encryption and file shredder options, as well as anti-phishing and anti-fraud protections for safer online banking, and there's also protection against your webcam being hacked by a third-party. The suite is a great option for internet security but users have mentioned that there is a constant stream of pop-up ads pushing on cross-sell for PC tune-up and other other software that take away from the user experience.

3. Norton 360 Deluxe

Norton 360 Deluxe offers a rich and more feature-packed internet security suite than just providing a firewall, it provides for antivirus and standard anti-malware protections much like the above internet security suites, but also has additional features including a secure VPN, a password manager, parental controls, and online cloud backup. There's also a feature for dark web monitoring so you can be alerted if any of your details appear for sale on the Dark Web. At £34.99 for your first year (and £84.99 per year there after), it is a little bit more expensive than the other options, but the additional features create an all inclusive style security for your devices, which offer sound peace of mind for the user, and some of the most essential online security features to prevent attacks.

Free Options;

1. ZoneAlarm

ZoneAlarm has been a widely popular and used firewall solution for over 20 years, with over 20 million downloads. ZoneAlarm offers both Free and Pro versions, with a difference defined by ads and addition feature options. The features included in the paid option include expert rules, 24/7 support, component control and other advanced settings, it can identify potentially unsafe traffic, hide open ports, and disable malicious programs. It the solution features a two-way firewall that monitors both traffic coming into and going out of your network, as well as making your PC invisible to hackers, and stopping spyware from broadcasting your personal data. Early boot protection will also protect the user's computer from being booted from a dangerous rootkit thats aims to take over the PC. The solution also includes anti-phishing scanning of URLs to ensure users don’t enter personal information on websites that are identified as security threats, as well as removing malicious code from any files downloaded.

2. Comodo Firewall

Comodo Firewall offers a range of features, and checks all incoming and outgoing traffic for legitimacy, as well as hiding your computer’s ports from hackers, blocking malicious software from broadcasting private data, and immediately warns the user if there is any suspicious activity. Further included is a secure browser, a ‘virtual kiosk’, and a host intrusion protection system, which detects suspicious behavior by a program and ask you whether to allow it, block it, or treat the program as an installer. The firewall also includes its own, secure versions of popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox, called Dragon and IceDragon, which offer security, privacy, and performance enhancements that aren’t available in standard browsers.

3. Windows Defender

PC user's running a version of Windows more recent than XP, then a free firewall is already installed, and unless you’ve changed any settings, it’s already active and running. It is known as Windows Defender and has been since the release of Windows 10, the firewall is part of a suite of security tools included by default with Windows installations. Microsoft recommends that you leave the Defender on, even if you’re also using an additional firewall. To manage its settings, simply search for 'security' in Windows and select the security app, when it opens, set the Windows Defender Firewall toggle to on. User's can also configure the firewall to allow a certain app through the firewall.

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