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Old 27. Feb 2013, 02:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Resolved [Android] Firewall for non-rooted devices

The firewall is one of those real handy apps and there are plenty of them within Google's Play store. Unfortunately they were only functional for users with rooted devices... until now.
Mobiwol: No Root Firewall is a fully functional free Firewall app that doesn't need a rooted phone to work. I've tested it and it worked great, albeit some minor limitations:
  • The app blocking method uses a VPN-based scheme. Meaning you cannot block specific networks (WiFi, 3G and Roaming) for each app.
  • It only works under Android 3.2 versions and up.
That said, Mobiwol is a very useful and lightweight app (600 KB) to have installed and thanks to its detailed log you'll have more control of the apps that try to go online without you knowing about it.

Ready to try it? You can download it here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...spark.firewall

FYI: A reboot may be necessary after the install for the app to work correctly on some devices.
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 02:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Wow, that's great, especially for people with limited mobile data plans. First ad-blocking was made available without root, and now this. I'm definitely installing it to prevent apps/games from phoning home and displaying useless content.
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 07:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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That's great! Unfortunately, I won't be able to use it, since my phone runs on Gingerbread 2.3.6

Quote:
Originally Posted by IO.Hazard View Post
The app blocking method uses a VPN-based scheme. Meaning you cannot block specific networks (WiFi, 3G and Roaming) for each app.
Can you explain this a bit more? VPN-based is a term to describe its working, or does it actually use VPN?
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 07:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam View Post
Can you explain this a bit more? VPN-based is a term to describe its working, or does it actually use VPN?
Sure!
From the Mobiwol page:

Quote:
"Mobiwol firewall uses the VPN packaging module offered by Android to be able to gain visibility to your applications' network activities. However, no actual VPN connection is being made, no data is being sent externally by our application, and we do not tamper with the security of your personal data."
I think these guys found a very smart alternative use for VPN. Don't you think so?
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 07:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Gee... that confuses me even more. Uses VPN packaging module, but no actual VPN connection is being made. What the heck is going on .
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 08:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes!
I was somewhat confused too, so I digged into the VPN package working scheme in Android (because of its sandbox-based working scheme) and I found a good explanation while checking the Android Developers' page.

What these guys did is just awesome, specially for users with non-rooted devices. It would have been great if the app could work under Android 2.x too, but there must be a good reason why they didn't port it for that OS version.
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Old 27. Feb 2013, 10:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for this IO.Hazard. I have Avast! on my own tablet, but obviously couldn't enable the firewall feature because the tablet isn't rooted. I've always felt a bit uneasy about not having a firewall because we all know its importance. This app can now fill that gap. I'll have to give it some serious thought, methinks.

I too shared the confusion Anupam has about its use of VPN. However, having read the last link you provided, I guess the following clues us in about how it uses VPN:
Quote:
Letting applications intercept packets raises huge security concerns.
I imagine it captures and reads these packets that originate from other apps. This is just a guess on my part, otherwise, how else would it use the VPN feature? I suppose if I were tech-savvy enough (which I'm not) I'd be able to find some way to verify what Mobiwol does. I feel the developer should provide just a bit more detail to settle this in the minds of potential users.

One last thing, even though the developer states "no actual VPN connection is being made", it is obvious that the VPN feature is at least started. What this will mean is that persons who need to use VPN cannot do so since in that same article it says:
Quote:
There can be only one VPN connection running at the same time.
Not that I feel that many regular users use VPN, just saying...
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Old 14. Mar 2013, 07:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Just for your information, Mobiwol has launched a new version which allows you to block specific networks (WiFi, 3G) for each app as well as an improved connections log among other things. However, this update's major change is that it works only on Android 4.0+ . (Don't blame me, I'm only a user like you are... )
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Old 17. Mar 2013, 08:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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with them taking down adblockers... im wondering if firewalls are next lol

if blocking ads inhibit proper app functions, firewall prevents "proper" info losses
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Old 17. Mar 2013, 11:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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@zilio
You're welcome. I'm glad you found it useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeb View Post
with them taking down adblockers... im wondering if firewalls are next lol

if blocking ads inhibit proper app functions, firewall prevents "proper" info losses
Hahaha. I never thought of that!

Perhaps Google should have been more cautious with its statements... the "blowback" effect may haunt them later.

If this new "strategy" at Google keeps going up, more users will go along the "sideloading" road, thus eventually weakening the Play Store itself.
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