The Best Firewalls of 2021
If you need protection for your entire network, look no further.
With cyber threats everywhere, it’s not enough to protect just your devices. You also have to protect your entire network with a firewall, which scans for potential invasions. Fortunately, many antivirus programs include firewalls, and after testing many of them, we’ve rounded up the best options below. Let’s get started so we can improve your network security.
Comparison of the Best Firewalls of 2021
|Firewall offers||Yes, with the Internet Security package||Yes, with a rule||Yes, with a rule||Yes, with the Internet Security|
|Annual cost range||$29.99-$49.99||$29.99-$44.99||$39.99-$99.99||$39.99-$47.88|
|Number of devices covered||1-5||3-15||1-5||1-10|
|iOS app rating||4.7||2.6||3.3||4.8|
|Android app rating||4.8||4.7||4.7||4.7|
|Read Review||Kaspersky Antivirus Review||Bitdefender Antivirus Review||ESET Antivirus Review||AVG Antivirus Review|
Detailed List of the Best Firewalls of 2021
1. Kaspersky - Best Firewall Overall
We signed up for Kaspersky’s Internet Security package to access the two-way firewall, and we were nothing if not impressed. Aside from blocking threats to our operating system by monitoring our network connections, the Kaspersky antivirus software also blocked malware, spyware, ransomware, adware, phishing attempts, and viruses. That’s more than enough protection for Windows, macOS, and Android devices as well as the network they’re connected to.
- Most comprehensive virus scans available
- Protection against malware, phishing, and ransomware
- Antivirus Premium plan for Windows includes defense against network attacks
- Total Security package adds a password manager, VPN, and parental controls
- Firewall only included in the Internet Security and Total Security packages
- Contracts start at one year
- The company is based in Russia and has been accused of government surveillance
- If you want a firewall for one device only, it has to be an Android
Internet Security Package
If you want a firewall with the Kaspersky antivirus software, you’ll need to purchase the Internet Security package, which starts at $11.99 per year for an Android device. Prices for three devices start at $49.99 per year, while prices for five devices start at $44.99 per year. Aside from a firewall, the Internet Security package also adds the Kaspersky VPN, which we tested in our Kaspersky VPN review, as well as the locking of smart camera access.
While the Internet Security package lacks the extra features of Total Security, such as an encrypted vault, password manager, and parental controls, it’s still a comprehensive antivirus solution. Plus, Kaspersky’s antivirus pricing is on par with its competitors, and it may be even cheaper if you take advantage of Kaspersky antivirus deals.
Detected 100 Percent of Recent Malware
Although Kaspersky as a company is controversial, with alleged ties to the Russian government,1 when it comes to detecting malware, it’s at the top of its game. May 2020 tests from AV-Test revealed that Kaspersky detected 100 percent of the most widespread malware of the month, as well as 99.9 percent of the latest Android malware attacks in real time.
Both of these rates are higher than the industry averages of 98.1 percent and 96.9 percent, respectively. Because they draw from over 6,000 samples, we could trust Kaspersky to guard our devices and network (although the U.S. government might disagree, as Kaspersky is banned from all government departments).2
While iOS devices don’t need antivirus protection, you’ll need to get rid of viruses on Android devices. Similarly, even though there is some antivirus software built into their operating systems, Macs need antivirus software and Windows 10 devices need antivirus software.
Fortunately, whatever device we tested it on, Kaspersky had a clean interface. On our Macbook Pro, for example, the interface was clear. It’s broken into four sections: scans, reports, an on-screen keyboard, and a database. It was easy to see the results of our scans and start new ones. We decided to let Kaspersky antivirus run in the background, protecting us at all times.
TIP: It’s best to have your antivirus and firewall running in the background. But if you don’t want slowdowns, run scans on demand or on access.
2. Bitdefender - Best Firewall for PCs
When AV-Test tested Bitdefender’s Internet Security package in May and June of 2021, it detected 100 percent of zero-day malware attacks, which includes web and email threats as well as all of the widespread and prevalent malware of the past four weeks. Of course, you can’t do better than 100 percent, making Bitdefender the best antivirus software for Windows. And to protect your network, you can add a firewall rule in seconds.
- Scans network threats in the background
- Affordable prices starting at $29.99 a year
- Programs designed for small businesses and families
- Behavior-based detection
- Internet Security plan is compatible with PCs only
- Prices for macOS, Android, and iOS start at $44.99 a month
- Data breach in 2015 exposed the data of around 250 customers
- Mac antivirus software tracks user data
Setting up our firewall with Bitdefender took just a few seconds. Here’s the process:
- We opened the Bitdefender PC app.
- We clicked Protection.
- We clicked Settings under the FIREWALL module.
- We chose the Rules tab.
- We clicked Add Rule. A new window appeared.
- We had the rule apply to all applications.
- Under Permissions, we clicked Allow to let the app access our internet and network.
- Since we were at home, we selected the network Type to be Home/Office.
- We chose our IP Protocol and selected Both for the traffic direction. This meant that the firewall was two-way, applying to both outgoing and incoming traffic.
But that wasn’t all. In the Advanced tab, we could choose specific remote or local IP addresses and ports for the firewall to protect. With so many custom options, we felt secure having our firewall on in the background.
Affordable and Effective Antivirus Protection
The most affordable firewall option with Bitdefender is the Internet Security package, which works with PCs only; if you need a firewall for macOS or Android, you’ll have to spring for Premium Security, which costs $89.99 per year for 10 devices. Unlike the Antivirus Plus option, Internet Security adds on a firewall, parental controls, and protection from adware, malware, spyware, and ransomware.
Prices start at $29.99 for one device per year, but if you want more savings for more devices, you can protect up to 10 devices for $199.99 for three years, which comes out to about $6.67 per device per year. That’s one of the lowest prices we’ve seen for antivirus software. Dive deeper into Bitdefender antivirus subscriptions or learn more about the cost of antivirus software in general.
Bitdefender VPN Add-On
If you also need a VPN, the Premium Security package adds a VPN for up to 10 devices; the cost is $89.99 per year, or only about $0.75 a month per device; that’s an amazingly low VPN cost! Learn more in our Bitdefender VPN review or our Bitdefender VPN pricing page, or read more about the average cost of VPNs.
3. ESET - Best Firewall for Android Devices
Need an Android antivirus? In July 2020 tests on Android 8, ESET detected 99.9 percent of widespread Android malware in the past four months. On top of that, the antivirus software protected against 99.8 percent of the latest Android attacks in real time, which is higher than the industry average. What’s more, having the ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus app on our Android device didn’t slow down our other devices; no wonder it has a 4.8 rating in the Google Play store!
- Detects 99.8 percent of the most widespread malware
- No history of data breaches or lawsuits
- 30-day free trial
- User-friendly Android app
- No monthly plans
- Confusing packages
- U.S. users could have data sold to third parties for marketing purposes
- Data collection includes paying customers
Firewall Available With All Plans
Unlike some of the other antivirus programs we’ve tested out, ESET’s firewall was available with all of its plans across desktop and mobile. To set it up, all we had to do was allow a firewall rule. Once we turned it on, the firewall filtered out our local network and internet communication, deciding whether or not to allow certain traffic.
We could even customize our firewall to allow for certain applications, like when we downloaded Spotify. If we know something is safe, we don’t need a virus scan, so we loved the fact that ESET let us protect only what was necessary.
To get ESET on our Android device, we had to sign up for Advanced Protection, the second-tier plan. The lowest tier, Essential Protection, works only on Linux, macOS, and Windows devices and lacks a firewall. That being said, the Advanced Protection option gave us more than the Essential Protection plan, including:
- Protection against hackers, otherwise known as a firewall
- Security for our IoT devices
- Safe transactions
While ESET’s antivirus pricing isn’t the lowest on the market, as Advanced Protection plans start at $49.99 per device per year, it’s a better deal if you sign up for three years and five devices. While you’ll have to pay $189.98 total, that’s less than $13 per device per year, which is certainly a steal.
Since you’ll need antivirus for the long haul anyway, it makes sense to sign up for three years, especially considering that you can try out ESET for free for 30 days. And if you want another free antivirus software, check out our list of the best free antivirus software.
Solid Android App
Aside from using Android VPNs, we install antivirus software on all of our Android devices by using mobile applications from the Google Play store. The ESET app was a breeze to install and use, and we agreed with its rating of 4.8 out of 5. It was easy to run a scan whenever we opened our Android device, and it can run in the background with minimal impact on internet speeds.
Plus, when we started the free trial, we didn’t have to provide our credit card information to use the Android app, just our email address. Of course, keep in mind that the free version doesn’t include a firewall, but it is a nice way to test out the Android app for its usability, which was excellent.
4. AVG - Best Firewall for Macs
Lastly, we have AVG, one of the best antivirus programs for Macs. With the Internet Security package, which seems to be a theme, AVG scanned our apps, files, and network for threats, and provided extra ransomware protection, secure payments, and anti-phishing coverage.
And the best part? The first year cost us only $39.99 for one device or $47.88 for up to 10 devices. If you do the math, that breaks down to about $4.80 per device per year, meaning you can get antivirus protection for the whole family.
- Detected 100 percent of malware on Macs
- Can detect malware not already in databases
- Internet Security plan covers up to 10 devices
- Business antivirus available
- Free antivirus does not include firewall
- The company was criticized for collecting and selling user data in 2020
- Mac and Window IP addresses are logged
- Long-term contracts only
Our 2020 Macbook Pro came with Big Sur, which was compatible with the AVG Internet Security subscription. However, the antivirus also works with other versions of macOS, including:
- macOS 10.15 (Catalina)
- macOS 10.14 (Mojave)
- macOS 10.13 (High Sierra)
- macOS 10.12 (Sierra)
- macOS X 10.11 (El Capitán)
Once we downloaded the AVG antivirus macOS app, not to be confused with the AVG VPN app, we headed over to the Preferences section to turn on the Wi-Fi Inspector. This showed us the nitty-gritty of the networks that the software had scanned previously. It was also where we told AVG to scan new networks when we brought our laptop into a coffee shop.
Next, we turned on the Enhanced Firewall, which, if you’ve read our page on AVG antivirus subscriptions, isn’t part of the free subscription; it’s part of the Internet Security package.
The Enhanced Firewall was enabled by default, but we customized it with network profiles for particular networks. For example, we had a private network profile for our home network and a public network profile for the public library we work in sometimes. This completely prevented all incoming communications from reaching our Mac and is the default network profile.
From there, we customized the firewall even further by organizing our work applications by vendor, specifying authorized ports, and determining actions for connections we haven’t authorized. These features make AVG a great business antivirus, with prices for Internet Security starting at $61.41 for a year.
NOTE: It’s not clear how many devices AVG’s Internet Security Business Edition covers; to find out, you’ll need to talk to a sales representative directly.
How did we pick out the best firewalls? Well, after testing dozens of antivirus programs, we focused on the software that included firewalls, prioritizing companies with firewalls in all of their subscriptions. However, we also included companies that have firewalls as part of certain packages only, depending on the quality of the antivirus software overall. Here are some things we look for while picking the best antivirus software with firewalls:
- Two-way firewall: The firewall should scan for incoming and outgoing threats across the entire internet and the local network that the device is connected to.
- On-demand and on-access scans: We should be able to scan for viruses, which includes ransomware, adware, spyware, malware, and Trojan viruses, both on demand, whenever you access your device, and in the background of your activity.
- Behavior-based detection and security features: Antivirus programs of days past scanned only for suspicious signatures or viruses and malware that were already in databases. However, most modern antivirus software scans for not only suspicious signatures, but also suspicious behaviors, meaning that they can find malware not in existing databases. We selected only antivirus software with behavior-based detection, the current industry standard.
- Clean company history: Of all of the products and services that we’ve tried out, antivirus software is the most controversial, believe it or not. Some antivirus companies have gotten into trouble for events like security breaches, selling customer data, or even colluding with foreign governments (allegedly).
As we test out an antivirus program, we also research its history, noting anything less than savory. Shockingly, about seven in 10 of the antivirus companies we’ve researched had some form of scandal, so it was hard to avoid, though we tried our best.
- Strong malware detection: We use data from AV-Test, an independent, IP security institute based in Germany, to see how each antivirus program fared among the most recent and widespread malware. Most of the programs on this list could detect 98 percent or more of malware, while some could detect 100 percent. We also put each program up to five malicious programs of our making, selecting only the programs that detected at least three of the five viruses.
- Affordable pricing: Antivirus software isn’t cheap. It usually costs around $40 a year, with discounts available for multiple-device coverage and longer-term subscriptions. Some antivirus software is bundled with other software like VPNs, password managers, and parental control software. We prefer companies with bundles, packages for businesses and families, and student discounts.
FYI: Personal antivirus software costs $40 per year on average, according to our report on the personal antivirus market. With 82 percent of U.S. households using antivirus software for personal reasons, that adds up to a $1.8-billion industry.
- Free options: Most free antivirus software lacks firewalls, but free trials and apps are a good way to test out the software in general. We prioritize free antivirus software, as well as antivirus software with free trials.
- Contract lengths: Unlike VPNs, antivirus software subscriptions typically start at a year. However, we appreciated companies that offered shorter term lengths, like a month, especially if there was no free trial available.
- Great customer support: We prefer companies with many ways to reach customer support, such as via phone, email, online form, and live chat. We also like companies with comprehensive online help centers that provide clear, step-by-step instructions.
- Solid desktop and mobile apps: An antivirus software is only as good as its app. We make sure that each antivirus software we recommend has bug-free apps that don’t slow down our other activity too much, especially if we’re running a virus scan in the background.
That’s all we have for the best firewalls, but if you want more information, read our complete guide to antivirus software. Or, if you want to see some other options that we’ve tested, read our list of the best antivirus software. Installing antivirus software is the first step to enhancing your digital security, especially if it includes a firewall, so there’s no better time than now to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best firewall for home use?
The best firewall for home use is Kaspersky. The software has a two-way firewall that covers both incoming and outgoing traffic. However, you’ll need to sign up for the Internet Security package, not Antivirus, as that package doesn’t include a firewall.
Which is the most secure firewall?
The most secure firewall is ESET. Unlike many of its competitors, ESET hasn’t had any privacy violations, security breaches, lawsuits, etc. While the software keeps some user information, such as the user’s email address, phone number, IP address, and more, the company stores that information for as little time as possible and aggregates data sold for advertising purposes, making its users anonymous.
Is a home firewall necessary?
A home firewall is necessary, although it doesn’t need to be as strict as a firewall used on public Wi-Fi networks. Threats can still come into a local network’s internet, even at home, which is why it’s important to scan all incoming and outgoing traffic for suspicious behavior.
How do I install a firewall?
How you install a firewall depends on which antivirus software you’re using. For AVG’s Internet Security package, for example, the firewall is enabled by default. However, the firewall is not always on by default. To enable ESET’s firewall on your Windows device, for example:
- Open the main program window.
- Click Setup.
- Click Network Protection.
- Toggle the firewall on to enable it.
The Wall Street Journal. (2017). Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software Into Tool for Spying.
Reuters. (2017). Trump signs into law U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software.