Firewalls are an important layer of defense for computer systems. While that is the case, most can be rather scary when it comes to understand what is going on and what to do.
That's why the majority of firewalls these days come with configurations that require little user attention. The same is true for network monitors, only that they are not that commonly used on home PCs.
GlassWire is a new program for Windows that acts as a network monitor and basic firewall in one. What sets it apart from other software programs of its kind is the fact that it makes available the information in an easy to understand manner.
After you have installed the program and launched it for instance, you will notice that it displays notifications about each new program that it discovered so that you know when a new program tries to establish a connection to an Internet server.
These alerts are also listed in the program interface itself. Here you see the date and time of the first network activity as well as the program name and server it connected to.
All alerts can be marked as read so that it is easier to identify new alerts, and sorted either by app or type.
Additional alerts can be enabled in the program settings. This includes an option to monitor the Internet connection itself (if it is disconnected and when it is reconnected), another to monitor important network activities while the computer is idle, and a third to notify you if the computer exceeds a set amount of bandwidth in a given time period.
All traffic is allowed by default, but you can use the basic firewall to block any recognized application from connecting to the Internet.
Here you find listed all programs recognized by GlassWire, information about current connections, up- and download speed, and a traffic chart.
All hosts the program is connected to can be displayed with a click on the more link (if there is more than one connection), and GlassWire will display upload and download speed for each host individually then.
A click on the firewall icon in front of a program cuts its connections and blocks it from establishing new ones. This is limited to programs recognized by GlassWire though.
Windows users who use a different firewall product can turn it off here is as well.
The two remaining tabs, graph and usage, are interesting as well. Graph displays a graph of network activity which you can follow on a time line that spans up to a week.
Information can be filtered by app or traffic, and it is easy to distinguish upload and download traffic in the graph.
A click on an entry displays the programs that uploaded or downloaded data from the Internet at that time and to which hosts.
Usage finally displays statistics about the Internet use. It displays total incoming and outgoing data, as well as top lists for apps, hosts and traffic types.
This can be useful in identifying programs that use a lot of bandwidth, or hosts that you are connected to more than to any others.
A time line is displayed again which you can use to display information about a specific point in time. The data itself can be expanded to cover a weekly or monthly period instead of a daily period only.
GlassWire can monitor remote servers as well, but you need to enable that in the settings.
GlassWire is not a replacement for a security software, but it is not advertised as such. Instead, it is a companion app for security software on a computer system.
Its main appeal comes from the fact that it makes things easy to understand so that you can react by blocking its access to the Internet from within the application or another firewall.
The program's additional features all make sense and help you get a solid overview of what is happening network-wise. While it is not as detailed as a firewall log, it provides you with important information such as when new programs connect to the Internet or when Internet usage shoots through the roof.
The program is free for now and according to GlassWire, only connects to their servers to check for updates and download a new list of malicious hosts files it maintains and blocks automatically.
The company plans to release a pro version of the program in the future to earn money from it.