Security For Everyone - Reviewing GlassWire Basic

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

GlassWire Basic is security software that monitors your network activity and lets you block any suspicious activity, by using its internal firewall. And it promises to deliver all that in an elegant manner and through a beautiful interface. While it isn't a full security solution, this software can be really helpful when you need to analyze what's going on your network. We were quite curious how GlassWire Basic works, and after using it for more than a couple of days, we are now eager to share our findings with you, in today's security review:

First Impressions

Downloading and installing GlassWire Basic is an easy process. You start by downloading an executable file called GlassWireSetup.exe. The download weighs in at around 20 MB and doesn't require any personal information.

Setup is completed after running through a few installation prompts. When that is done, the wizard recommends that you reboot your computer so that GlassWire Basic can detect all your network connections.

When you start GlassWire Basic for the first time, the software will need a few moments in order to analyze your network.

When GlassWire Basic is up and running, you'll get to see a Graph of your network activity. Compared to what we've usually seen with other security tools of this kind, we must admit that GlassWire Basic's Graph looks really beautiful.

Our first impressions are very good: GlassWire Basic is easy to install, it requests no personal information from you and our first encounter with its interface was surprising. GlassWire Basic looks really nice and that is something extremely rare among security softwares.

Integration With Windows 8.1 & Modern Apps

GlassWire Basic has its own built-in firewall. That's why we expected it to disable Windows Firewall, so that no performance issues or conflicts should arise. However, that didn't happen, so we thought… "OK, we'll disable Windows Firewall ourselves and see how it goes...". But that proved to be a bad idea. After we disabled it, GlassWire Basic's firewall didn't work anymore. It appears that GlassWire Basic's firewall features need Windows Firewall to be working, so you should leave Windows Firewall on.

Because GlassWire Basic is in fact using Windows Firewall, we expected to have no problems whatsoever when it came to its integration with Windows 8.1 and modern apps. That proved to be true, as we had no problems when joining or creating a Homegroup, when sharing files and folders or streaming media over the local network. We also didn't encounter any kind of problems when downloading, installing or using modern apps from the Store.

In normal conditions, GlassWire Basic needs about 37 MB of RAM memory and less than 1 percent of CPU power in order to run its processes. When a network activity occurs though, we've seen spikes in the CPU load of up to 20 percent.

Next, we checked the boot impact of this software. To do that, we used BootRacer to measure the boot times of our test computer before and after GlassWire Basic was installed. It doesn't seem to have any impact, as the boot times remained the same with and without having GlassWire Basic installed.

Then, we ran PCMark 8, to see if GlassWire Basic affects the overall performance of our test computer. We used the Home conventional preset and we got 2051 points. This result remained unchanged after installing the this software, which means GlassWire Basic has no impact on your computer's overall performance.

GlassWire Basic is a security software that is well integrated with Windows 8.1 and its modern apps. Probably because it uses Windows Firewall, it doesn't interfere with any networking features from the operating system. When it comes to the system resources, we found it to be a lightweight application, and even if sometimes it does require somewhat high amounts of CPU power, these are spiking events, that don't affect your computer's overall performance.

Ease Of Use & Configuration

As we mentioned before, GlassWire Basic is a security software with a beautiful interface. The Graph tab offers a real-time visualisation of the networking events taking place on your computer, and it does it in an elegant manner.

On the top left corner of the Graph window, you can choose to see graphs for all the events that happen, or you can choose to narrow the information displayed by Apps or Traffic criteria. By using these options, you can easily see the exact network traffic of a certain application, or exactly how much traffic went on a certain network protocol or service.

If you want to see some details of what happened on your network at some point in the past, you can simply click on the graph and GlassWire Basic will tell you the details of the application or network event that caused that spike in your network activity.

In case you want to go back in time and get a wider viewpoint of your network activity, GlassWire Basic has you covered. On the top right side of the Graph tab, you can easily zoom the graph to 5 minutes, 3 hours, 24 hours, a week and up to a 6 month history time.

The second tab available in GlassWire Basic's interface is the Firewall. It lists all the applications that have network activity, and the network hosts that each of them are connected with.

If you already have a firewall solution installed on your computer you can easily disable GlassWire Basic's firewall. To do that, click or tap the Firewall switch at the top left corner of the Firewall tab.

The Firewall also lets you create rules for the applications that communicate over your network. All you have to do is click or tap on any of the listed applications in order to create a rule for them. The default rule set in GlassWire Basic is block, but you can also use an Ask To Connect rule or you can block all the traffic going on your device. When a rule was set for a certain application, GlassWire Basic will display a small burning flame icon to its left.

If you choose to be asked whenever a certain application wants to connect to the Internet, you'll get a dialog similar to the one below.

Next comes the Usage tab. This tab offers you time-based statistics. You get to see the total network traffic that went on your computer in the last day, week, month and 6 months. Similar to the real-time Graph tab, you can zoom the time period in and out.

The fourth tab you'll find in the GlassWire Basic interface is called Network. It lets you see all the devices connected to your network. While this is also something you can find in your router's interface, it might prove to be easier or faster to open GlassWire Basic and check who uses your Internet connection.

The final tab lists all the Alerts issued by GlassWire Basic. Anything worth checking will be displayed here.

That is pretty much all about the user interface offered by GlassWire Basic. However, GlassWire Basic also offers other, more advanced settings. You can access them from the menu found on the top left corner of the interface.

Among other things like choosing a different display language or setting a different interface skin, one of the most interesting features we found in GlassWire Basic is that it allows you to do remote server monitoring. That means you can monitor the network activity of up to three different devices on your network right from your main device.

While we used GlassWire Basic, we noticed that it gives you plenty of notifications. However, they are always meaningful and always related to the network activity going on your computer.

When it comes to support and help, GlassWire Basic offers online documentation, but also a frequently asked questions section and access to their online forum.

We loved the interface offered by GlassWire Basic. It's beautiful, practical and easy to use and understand. There's nothing we could hold against it, and we wish more security products would do so well when it comes to their user interfaces.

Firewall

Since GlassWire Basic includes a built-in firewall feature, we wanted to test its efficiency. As we mentioned before, this software works with Windows Firewall and depends on it. However, GlassWire Basic should enhance the protection offered by Windows Firewall. Let's see what we found out.

To test the firewall's efficiency, we ran a few tests with both Nessus and Nmap. These scans were made using both a public and a private network location.

When using a private network connection, Nmap discovered 13 open ports, while Nessus identified 6 open ports and a vulnerability to "man-in-the-middle" attacks.

Using a public location for our network connection, Nmap managed to find 4 open ports and Nessus identified 5.

No matter whether we used a public or a private network connection, both Nmap and Nessus correctly identified the MAC address and the operating system running on our test computer running GlassWire Basic.

GlassWire's built-in firewall is not great. GlassWire Basic is a great tool for monitoring your network and analyzing the traffic going on your computer, but if you want a good firewall protection, you should disable its built-in firewall and use a better firewall solution.

Default Settings You Might Want To Adjust

If you decide to use GlassWire Basic, here are some settings you might consider adjusting:

  • Turn on Camera and mic monitor. By doing this, you can rest assured that no application will start using your webcam or your microphone without first letting you know. It's a good privacy setting, that we recommend you enable. You can find it inside Settings, in the Security tab.

  • Enable Bandwidth overage monitor. If you're using a metered Internet connection, GlassWire Basic can help you track the bandwidth you use in a certain period of time, so that you don't exceed your monthly limit. You'll find this option in the same Security tab, inside Settings.

GlassWire Basic is a well configured product, and there are few settings you might consider changing.

Product Rated
3/5

Verdict

GlassWire Basic is a very good network monitoring and traffic analyzing software. We loved the beautiful interface it offers, and we were very pleased with the amount of information it delivers. This software was developed to be easy to use by everyone, and that is easily seen. However, the built-in firewall protection is not great, and our recommendation for our readers is to disable it and look elsewhere for a better firewall solution. Overall, if you want to get a better idea of what's happening on your network connection and do that in an elegant manner and through an easy to use interface, GlassWire Basic is one of the best tools of its kind. In our opinion, GlassWire Basic is a good buy for anyone, both for beginners and for experienced users.