GlassWire is a Beautiful Network Monitor and Firewall for Windows

One trait that’s a rarity among Windows applications is beauty. However, every once in a while there comes an app that stands out and makes you take notice due to its well thought out design and interface. GlassWire is one such app.


GlassWire is a free network and bandwidth monitor and firewall. There’s no shortage of similar apps for Windows; however, almost all of them are a confusing mess of complexity that would scare away anyone who is not tech-savvy. GlassWire on the other hand is brilliant in its simplicity.

There are only four tabs – Graph, Firewall, Usage, and Alerts. The Graph section shows a continuous stream of your network activity. You can see your total internet activity or drill down on type of traffic and application.

GlassWire - Graph
GlassWire – Graph

The Firewall tab allows you to quickly block an app from using your internet connection. It lists all apps that are connected or have connected to the internet, along with details about the host that it is connecting to. If you see something that you don’t like you can instantly bock that app by clicking on the fire icon next to it. GlassWire itself doesn’t have a Firewall engine. Instead, it sits on top of the Windows Firewall and provides an interface to control the Windows Firewall.

GlassWire - Firewall
GlassWire – Firewall

The Usage tab gives a detailed report on the internet usage pattern of every app. You will be able to see exactly who your app has been communicating with and how much data they are sending out. GlassWire also has an Incognito Mode for the times when you don’t want your activity to be recorded. It’s also pretty straight forward to delete reports, in case you want to keep some stuff off the books.

GlassWire - Usage
GlassWire – Usage

Finally, there’s a pretty versatile Alerts feature, which provides you a wide range of alert including first network activity, excessive bandwidth usage, host files modification, and suspicious host connection. There’s also an option to remotely observe another system’s activity.

It’s still early days for GlassWire, and there’s undoubtedly room for improvement. The Firewall tab simply lists all the processes that are transferring data over the internet. It will be a lot more useful it also integrated with something like ProcessLibrary to show more information about each app/process. There are also a few UI glitches that show up at various resolutions.

GlassWire - Alerts
GlassWire – Alerts

The absence of advanced features found in most third-party firewalls might put off power users, but GlassWire does just enough to be useful to a large section of users, who might get annoyed or confused by a full-fledged firewall. GlassWire does a good job at keeping things simple and exposing a lot of useful information without being confusing.

[ Download GlassWire ]
Image Credit: Crackers by elhombredenegro

Norton 2013 Begins Public Beta, Introduces Windows 8 Support

Windows 8 is still several months away from being released; however, major software firms are already hard at work to ensure that their applications support the latest and greatest from Microsoft’s stables right out of the gate.

Earlier this month, Symantec kicked off the public beta testing phase of Norton 2013 series of products (Norton 360 2013, Norton Internet Security 2013, and Norton AntiVirus 2013). The biggest draw of Norton 2013 seems to be complete Windows 8 compatibility. In fact, Symantec has even tweaked Norton’s interface to make it better suited to Windows 8’s design aesthetics.




Official changelog for Norton 2013 is yet to be published. The only new feature that is readily apparent is bandwidth monitoring, which can restrict the download of non-critical updates over expensive networks. However, there are quite a few other minor tweaks that Download Crew has managed to spot. Norton Insight is now integrated with the Firewall, and the Insight File Reputation database is updated more quickly. SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response), which is Norton’s heuristics engine, now works even in safe mode. And finally, Norton now automatically downloads and installs Norton Power Eraser tool if any infection is detected.

Head over to the official public beta forum to download Norton 2013. However, keep in mind that using non-release build of security products is not recommended.

Dent in the Great Firewall of China Pulls Hundreds of Chinese Netizens to Obama’s Google Plus Page

You have no idea how much I wanted to write an article under that headline. I did not know how much I wanted to write an article under that headline until I read the news. Apparently, a glitch in the matrix China’s nationwide firewall has allowed many Chinese users to troop around into Google +, the social networking platform with special emphasis on mobiles. These Chinese netizens have flocked to US President Barack Obama’s Google + page and written up posts that range from pleas for help to the US Green Card and applying for the same.

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.(Photo by Pete Souza)

Many of these Chinese users have reportedly been using the mobile platform through which Google + is accessible, rather than fixed computers, much to the chagrin of the Chinese authorities (or so I would like to believe, since there is not much information on that front). China has blocked Twitter and Facebook following ethnic riots in some parts of the country, while Google has been fighting a hard battle against censoring some search results for the country.

It would be fun to see how President Obama, already reeling under pressure from many parts of the Internet as well as the people in general, will respond to a Chinese “request” to take down the messages on Google + – many of which criticize Beijing’s censorship.

AVG Premium Security Protects You against Identity Theft

AVG has launched a new product called AVG Premium Security, which boasts of an unique Identity Alert component. Over the past few months we have witnessed numerous large scale data thefts of varying severity. Although the Sony PSN hacking incident grabbed the limelight, there were numerous other small, but perhaps more damaging, incidents. A helpful netizen even created a service that can automatically alert you if your online identity is compromised.

AVG’s Identity Alert component also performs a similar function, but probably more thoroughly. AVG claims that it scours the web, including chatrooms, forums, and criminal webpages to check if your identity has been compromised by monitoring your e-mail address and debit and credit card numbers.

When you combine the shocking security lapses we have seen out of very high profile and respected brands such as Sony, Epsilon and Citigroup in the past few months with the liability shift toward consumers, it is clear that identity theft protection tools are no longer a nice to have,said J.R Smith, CEO, AVG Technologies. Banks and corporations are at an important tipping point, showing strong indications that they will no longer simply cover losses,- expecting the online users to share equal responsibility in taking appropriate security measures that ultimately protect each other from malicious attacks.

Besides the Identity Alert component, AVG Premium Security includes AVG Internet Security and AVG Quick Tune. Internet Security features anti-virus, anti-spyware, AVG Protective Cloud Technology, and the AVG Community Protection Network. Quick Tune is basically a stripped down version of AVG PC Tuneup. It offers disk defragmenter, junk file removal, registry cleaner, and broken shortcut remover.

With its new offering, AVG is hoping to compete with Kaspersky Pure, Norton 360 and other similar products. The Identity Alert module helps AVG differentiate itself from its competitors, and the suite itself is competitively priced at $69.99. However, it might also be an overkill for most users. In my humble opinion, as long as you take the basic precautions like not reusing passwords, a simple firewall and antivirus is likely to suffice.

A Tunnel underneath the Great Firewall of China, Yes It Exists

China is a hard country to live in, especially if you are a free speech enthusiast. China has this great firewall that pretty much filters everything it wants to. Nothing goes out and nothing comes in without China wanting it, or so it seems.

China takes every possible step in censoring any form of content that harms the Government’s interests. Enter Tiananmen into any form of online search in China and you will see a message announcing the ban of the content. However, clever Chinese microbloggers found a way around this ban, and the solution is geeky.

CNN reports this as,

Type the words “Egypt,” “Tiananmen” or “June 4th, 1989″ into any of China’s microblogging sites and the search will return this message: “According to relevant law and regulations, the results are not displayed.”
But type in “8×8″ — shorthand for 64, in turn shorthand for 6/4 or June 4th; the date of the Tiananmen crackdown — and you may catch some lively and surprisingly open exchanges on the social networking sites.

Either this, or, as a Chinese microblogger hints that the government has grown a bit weary about activities that try to bypass the effect of the firewall, and is ignoring them now. Some top government officials, including the Chinese President himself, have their own microblogs and this is indicative of acceptance from the Government. The last time we heard such a bypass of the Firewall, it was by an open source mail protocol.

What is worth noting here is that either way, people win. This is groundbreaking considering it is China we are talking about.

Installing Zone Alarm Free Firewall

Do you understand what a firewall really does? Most people would tell you that a firewall protects you from hackers out there on the internet. They’re right, but there’s a little more to it.

Every modern operating system has a firewall. Windows PCs are a special case, because they are specifically targeted by the dark forces out there. That’s mainly true because of the huge user base of Windows computers around the world.

Your firewall is meant to protect you from evil computers trying to access your computer without your knowledge (inbound protection). However, good firewalls also prevent your PC from broadcasting your private information or spreading worms, viruses and spam to other computers (outbound protection).

Many years ago, Windows shipped XP without any firewall protection turned on by default. That was a huge mistake and millions of people paid the price for it. The mistake was fixed by XP Service Pack 1, but many of us have never forgotten what happens when you don’t use a firewall.

zone-alarm-icon Back in the days of Windows 95 and 98, I used a firewall called ZoneAlarm, because Microsoft didn’t even offer one at the time. These days, the Windows firewall for XP, Vista and 7 is adequate, but it doesn’t offer very good outbound protection. That’s why it may be a good idea to try out the newest ZoneAlarm Free. Here’s what the folks at ZA say about their product.


Monitors inbound and outbound traffic flowing through your computer
Requests from an unknown or unsolicited source are identified and blocked
Hides your computer from hackers

Leverages real-time threat data from community of millions of ZoneAlarm users to detect and block the latest attacks
All programs launched on your computer are compared against a database of known programs; malicious program are blocked and safe programs allowed, rare unknown programs result in a warning
Delivers stronger, quieter security

Warns you of phishing sites and spyware distribution sites
Uses signatures and heuristics to identify more fraudulent websites than standard protection

Online Backup
Securely upload/download files with User-defined encryption keys.
Retrieve data from any location – login via any web browser to your account and access backed up data.
Automated backup schedules the backup of data per your convenience.

Below, I’ll run through a typical install of ZoneAlarm Free, with screenshots and tips to help you get through it.