Simplewall: simple firewall for Windows
Simplewall is an easy to use program for Microsoft Windows devices to allow, or block programs from connecting to the Internet.
All modern versions of Windows ship with a built-in firewall. While it is okay for what it offers, is is neither the easiest to configure nor to maintain.
While you can go ahead and install a third-party firewall solution, another option that you have is to use programs that tap right into the tools that ship with Windows.
The excellent Windows Firewall Control is such a program, and so is Simplewall. Simplewall is a utility that provides you with options to configure the Windows Filtering Platform (WFP).
Simplewall is offered as a portable version, and a version that needs to be installed. The program itself is compatible with all versions of the Windows operating system from Windows Vista onward, and comes as a 32-bit and 64-bit executable. Please note that you may need to run the program with elevated privileges.
The program works a bit different than dedicated firewall applications. Actually, when you first start it up, it does nothing at all. It is up to you to decide how to use the program, and this is where it gets interesting.
The program's default operational mode is to allow only whitelisted processes to connect to the Internet. This means, that it will block any process from connecting to the Internet if you don't whitelist it manually. The two other options that you have in this regard is to switch to blacklist mode, which allows all processes to connect to the Internet unless blacklisted, and block all mode, which, blocks all traffic.
Once you have made that selection under Settings > Mode, you may click on the install filters button to get started.
Simplewall detects any process that tries to establish a connection to the Internet, and will handle it depending on the mode configuration. If you kept the default mode, you will notice that all connections are blocked, as you have not whitelisted a process yet.
To whitelist/blacklist, simply select the process from the list. This list of processes is updated regularly by the Simplewall to list new processes with Internet connection attempts.
You can switch the display from filename only to full path. This may help with the identification of processes, and can be done under View > Show Filenames Only.
Other options of interest for the program's default mode of operation are found under Settings > Filters. You can allow all inbound connections, and/or all listen connections there, or enable experimental boot time filters.
Other security features of interest
Simplewall ships with blocklist support, and even ships with one that blocks Windows Telemetry data and malware when enabled.
Rules are pulled from XML files that you find in the program directory. You find these rules in the program settings under Filters > Blocklist, or when you open the XML file directly.
Adding rules is a bit of a drag, as you need to edit the XML files for that as the program itself ships without options to add or edit rules using the interface.
Another useful feature is the system rules section of filters. You may use it to allow or block certain types of traffic or services, for instance FTP, NetBIOS, Telnet, or the Windows Update Service.
Simply use the selection options under Settings > System rules, and toggle the items there to allow or block traffic.
What is missing?
Simplewall keeps log files, and you may open those at any time to find out more about errors and connections. What the program does not support however is a notification system. This seems to be on purpose to keep it as simple -- and arguably less annoying.
The program lists only file names and paths in the interface, so that you will have to research a process before deciding whether to block or allow it.
While you get better control using XML files, there are not any interface options to add custom rules.
Simplewall is a simple yet powerful firewall for all recent versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system. The program is easy to use, but has a couple of rough edges when it comes to creating custom rules.
Still definitely handy, especially if you are looking for something that you can use to block connections with little effort.
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