Thursday, 15 November 2012

DroidWall forks: AFWall+ and Android Firewall

The maker of Android firewall DroidWall sold it to antivirus maker avast. DroidWall didn't get developed any further, and when Android 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean) spread around trouble started.

But because the source code for DroidWall was out in the open, others jumped in to keep DroidWall alive.

Android Firewall by jtschohl is one of the DroidWall forks. It looks just like the old app, but it works on ICS and Jelly Bean too.

AFWall+ is even better. It lets you split online permissions into permission to go online by WiFi, normal data, and roaming data, so you don't need avast for that. When I wrote on this site that AFWall+ would be even better with a "clear log file" button right inside the log itself, its maker said he'd build it into his app and the next day it was there.

It also fixes the old DroidWall problem of leaking data in the seconds between Android starting and the firewall waking up, so no more leaky boots. Well, most of the time. If your phone freezes and you have to reboot it by pulling the battery, the next boot still leaks. But after a normal shutdown (including auto-shutdown when your battery is empty) the next boot is waterproof.

Tiny little AFWall+ problem: updates share the version number of the old versions. On my phone versions 1.03, 1.04, and 1.05 were labeled by Titanium as version 103, which makes it difficult to keep backups of different versions of the app. And you're gonna need those backups, because the app is still in an experimental state and updates can introduce new bugs. On the bright side, bug fixes are very speedy.

So which firewall is the right one for your phone?

If you're on ICS or newer, there's no point in keeping the old DroidWall. If you run an older version of Android, DroidWall is still not the best choice because it leaks on boot.

Android Firewall by jtschohl works on Android 4.x too, but AFWall+ is a better choice. AFWall+ reduced the leaky boots issue, and its separate settings for data roaming are really useful when you're traveling and you don't want your wallet emptied by data hungry autostarting apps.

If you're gonna test all these firewalls yourself, remember to switch off your old firewall when you activate a new one. Running two firewalls at the same time is not a good idea.

stand-alone firewalls:

AFWall+ on xda
AFWall+ (Google Play Store)
Android Firewall by jtschohl

firewalls built into other security apps:

LBE Privacy Guard

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