First Glance At Portmaster, A Cross-Platform Open Source Network Monitor

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Portmaster is a free open source cross-platform network activity monitor that is currently available in an early version for Windows, Ubuntu, and Fedora Linux distributions. Traditional network activity monitoring is combined with extra capabilities such as the ability to mandate the use of secure DNS or the automatic blocking of advertisements, trackers, and dangerous hosts using filter lists, which are often used by ad-blockers. Because Portmaster is free to use, it raises the question of how development is funded. On the official project website, the Portmaster creators share this information.

Essentially, they intend to adopt a freemium model. Portmaster will be free for all users, but additional services, including a VPN, will be accessible to those that sign up. This generates revenue, which is used to fund development.

Portmaster is available in an alpha version for Windows and Linux. It is now available for testing and development purposes. Alpha software may contain flaws and difficulties, and should not be used in production. The alpha designation is “primarily about missing features than instability,” according to the development team. Importing and exporting options, support for custom filter lists, cryptographically signed updates, and a full-device network monitor are all planned for the first beta release.

On Windows, installation is simple; however, a reboot is required to complete the process. The user interface is current and well-designed. The main screen displays recent network activity, including total connections and percentages of approved and prohibited connections. When you click on a program or service in the network activity list, you’ll see data like its name and path, as well as information about previous connections. The target, whether the data was encrypted, the IP addresses, and the nations of the IP addresses are all given for each connection. Each program can have its own set of options. Users can change many connection-specific variables in addition to disabling all network activity. Here are a few examples:

  • Choose from the three standard network actions: allow, block, and prompt.
  • Disable Internet or LAN access.
  • Disable P2P and direct connections
  • Disallow inbound connections.
  • Set up incoming rules.
  • Use filter lists, such as ad and tracker blocking, malware hosts, and so on.

All of these can be set globally, ensuring that preferences are applied uniformly across all apps and services. Individual apps can have their own override settings.

The All Apps area includes all applications that have had network activity in the past and present. A search tool is offered to rapidly locate programs in the list. To change the default networking behavior, you can choose any application or service.

As an alpha version, the premium function SPN (Safing Privacy Network) is also provided. The service is modeled after Tor, which improves privacy by routing connections over multiple network hops. The multi-hop design distinguishes it from VPNs. Multiple connections are supported by some VPNs, such as NordVPN, although they are usually not designed to hide the information like the destination from each other.

 

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