Apps. We use them all day everyday. But what are they doing when we’re not using them? Some apps do nothing until they are started up, while others are online 24 hours a day even when not running.
If you’d like to see what’s going on with your favourite apps, read on.
NoRoot Firewall establishes a fake VPN in order to have all app data run through it first (just as actual VPN apps do). Unlike other/real VPN apps however, NoRoot Firewall blocks every app from accessing both WiFi and cellular data initially. You are then able to “Allow” apps access to internet on a one by one basis.
I set mine up to run all the time and startup on a reboot.
Choosing the “Pending Access” tab immediately shows you a growing list of apps that want or need internet access.
I waited a while to have the Pending tab be filled with app listings. Then I started each app, one at a time. If the app worked properly I decided to leave it alone for further review. If the app in question did not work, I would then decide if I wanted to keep the app or allow access for it.
If you click on an app in the list you can see what IP addresses it is trying to “phone home to”, and what ports it is wanting to use. As you can see, BBM wants access to two different servers, both using port 443. Port 443 is used for secure web sites such as banking sites etc. BBM does not work without being allowed by NoRoot Firewall.
Piktures is an app I use for my pictures and screenshot gallery. This app is an example of one that wants to “call home” but doesn’t need to. For this reason I have left it with no internet access. I don’t care what it’s trying to relay to it’s owner or developer, I’m not interested in sharing if I don’t have to. That’s just me.
Here was a surprise for me. Antutu Benchmark is used world-wide to test and share results on mobile devices CPU, GPU, and speed. You get to see how well your device stacks up against others, as I did the other day. I decided to check the IP addresses that Antutu was trying to talk to. I used an internet facility called “Whois” to find out. You just type in an IP address and it tells you who owns/operates the website or server. In the case of Antutu, It wants to talk to Facebook at 22.214.171.124 and China Telecom at 126.96.36.199. I decided to keep this one blocked as well.
If you are curious or concerned about privacy give NoRoot Firewall a try. You never know what you might find out!