Top 10 Firewalls for 2010
This list of the top ten firewalls is based on the ease of use and number of downloads from CNET.COM. The basic nature of a firewall is to prevent people from stealing your data while protecting your computer from phishing attacks from other computers in the network. No firewall should be setup and forget software. You need to know what is happening on your Internet/network connection. You need to receive alerts about applications accessing the Internet without your knowledge or approval and about anyone from the Internet accessing your computer. You should be able to understand these alerts so that you can allow or deny access to Internet or from the Internet. The ease of understanding the alerts is also a criterion for this list of top ten firewalls.
You may select any of the listed top ten firewalls – just remember to turn off the default Windows Firewall before you install them. If you intend to stick with Windows 7’s default firewall, you should not use any other firewall. More than one firewall may create conflicts whereby you may lose communication packets (data transmission is done by breaking and creating data packets of equal size preceded by the destination IP address). Now that you know the basic rules for using a firewall, let us look at the list for 2010.
#1 ZoneAlarm Firewall
ZoneAlarm Pro firewall stands first in my list of top ten firewalls. Though Comodo firewall could have been here, Zonealarm’s easy to understand alerts gives it a position above Comodo. Though Comodo and Zonealarm both present many alerts, you can easily understand the alerts presented by Zonealarm. The Zonealarm firewall also offers you additional details if you need before determining any action – allow or block. While using Comodo, I knew someone was constantly trying to access my computer. With Zonealarm, I knew it was my ISP authenticating the connection every few minutes. Due to this feature, Zonealarm firewall gets a place above Comodo firewall in my list of top 10 firewalls. You can download free Zonealarm firewall version from CNET as well. ZoneAlarm Pro, the paid version, has some added features that include real time support.
#2 Comodo Firewall
Comodo firewall stands second in my top 10 firewall list only due to its complex messages. Only a person with some knowhow of computer’s communication ports – 25, 110, 1010, and similar – can fully understand the alerts. For example, your computer employs port 25 to receive email messages. The Firewall is available with the paid Comodo Internet Security Suite (trialware), or as a FREE standalone firewall. The multilayered protection keeps an eye on all of the computer ports, even the inactive ones. You can download Comodo Standalone Firewall from the Comodo website. While installing, you get the option to include Comodo antivirus as well.
#3 F-Secure Internet Protection 2010
Built into F-Secure Internet Security Suite, the F-Secure 2010 firewall stands at third position in my list. Though you have an option to install each of the components individually, the package is not free so you would rather use the entire package (that includes F-Secure antivirus as well). The F-Secure antivirus is also rated among the top 10 antivirus list, second to Kapersky AV.
Coming to the F-Secure 2010 firewall, it offers protection against malware by keeping a constant vigil over all the active ports of your computer. The alerts are few but it does not mean that the software is not active. It is just to offer ease of use.
One of the interesting components of F-Secure 2010 is a new technology called DeepGuard. It keeps on patrolling the entire computer to look for malware as well as spam and phishing email. So in effect, you have an email spam-filter free with F-Secure!
After checking out the top 3 firewalls on this page, let us review the remaining in my list of top 10 firewalls on the next page.
#4 Prisma Firewall 2009
Not well known in the world of security products, Prisma 2009 stands at #4 in my list of top 10 firewalls. The reason it is not well known is that it doesn’t support big servers, yet is a paid software. The best part of the firewall is that it is built primarily for networks so that the network is safe even from the internal users trying to misuse the network.
Light on computer resources, Prisma Firewall 2009 is a good choice for people looking for software version of the best network firewalls.
#5 ESET Smart Security 4 – Security Suite and Smart Security Firewall
At #5 in my list of top 10 firewalls is ESET Smart Security. The software serves as total protection suite: contains antivirus, antispyware, and a powerful firewall. The proactive security suite scans for any suspicious activity and analyzes application behavior before allowing it internet access. You can create a custom list of applications that can access the Internet. You can also create a custom list of applications that can access the Internet. ESET Smart Security firewall is known for its ability to block any attempts to disable computer protection.
People using Smart Security were among the ones NOT affected with the Conficker C as the virus blocked all security systems (including Windows Updates) to disable and destroy security systems on millions of computers across the planet.
#6 PC Tools Firewall Plus 6
PC Tools Firewall Plus is one of the most used firewalls as it is free and effective. As with other firewalls PC Tools Firewall Plus prevents intruders to keep your computer safe. It has the capability to auto detect whether you are on roaming or on a stationary network. Accordingly it switches the level of protection. You may also customize it to prevent it from auto-switching and manually toggle between roaming preset and stationary preset. PC Tools Firewall is smooth on gamers as it does not present any interruptions while playing full-screen games.
#7 AVG 9 Internet Security Suite and AVG Firewall
AVG 9 is available as a complete computer protection suite, as a standalone antivirus package, and as a standalone firewall. The previous versions have proved the capabilities of AVG, so you can expect more from AVG 9. The #7th firewall in my list of top 10 firewalls is available on yearly subscription basis. The cost of a year’s subscription is not even USD 30. The firewall’s trademark features now include safety scanners that scan a website even before you reach there. If the site is malicious, you get a warning. Apart from regular features of a good firewall, AVG 9 also plays smoothly for gamers. It does not present interruptions when you are playing games.
#8, #9, and #10 – Look ‘n’ Stop Firewall, Webroot 2010, and Windows 7 Firewall
I am combining all the three final firewalls in my list of top 10 firewalls list into a single section as they have most of the features in common!
Look ‘n’ Stop Firewall is a personal firewall available as trialware for 30 days. The one time cost of the firewall, rated 8th in my list of top 10 firewalls, is not even USD30 (single computer). Available as a small download, Look ‘n’ Stop firewall has few pre-defined states and allows expert users to customize it per their requirements.
Webroot 2010 is still in beta phase yet you can count it as one of the best firewalls. The previous versions have proven the capabilities of this paid Internet Security Suite. Webroot 6.1 costs you around USD 50 (for three computers) and offers you lifelong protection from any kind of hack/phishing attacks.
Windows 7 firewall gets 10th place in my list of top 10 firewalls as it is still new and needs to be monitored. Going by the security offered by Windows Vista, Windows 7 default firewall includes even more features to safeguard your computer. The dual mode, easy to use firewall presents minimum alerts that leave you wondering if it is active. Given the security if offers, you can even increase its ranking in any list of top 10 firewalls!
Related Reading: Comparing Security Features of XP, Vista, and Win7