How to check (and block) apps that track you on iPhone and iPad

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Protect iOS your privacy and data with a firewall app.
Protect iOS your privacy and data with a firewall app.
Photo: Capturing the Human Heart/Unsplash

Safari’s content blockers effectively block trackers and other Bad Stuff on the web, but that only works in Apple’s browser. Any other app you install on your iPhone or iPad can send all kinds of personal information to anyone, without you ever knowing. Your location, the details of your menstrual cycle, how long you spend asleep — pretty much anything.

So how do you stop this? Well, iOS 13 itself can help limit some abuses. But what you really need is an iOS firewall app that can detect and shut down any unauthorized connections.

Lockdown brings open source firewall to iOS

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Lockdown secures your iPhone with a firewall.
Lockdown secures your iPhone with a firewall.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Lockdown Apps is a new firewall app for iOS. Like Guardian Firewall, which we covered last month, Lockdown uses iOS’ VPN framework to intercept all incoming and outgoing network traffic, and allows you to block connections to any address.

Unlike Guardian Firewall, Lockdown operates entirely on your device. It is also open source.

Guardian Firewall is the first true privacy-protecting firewall for iOS

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A partial visual pun for a firewall.
A partial visual pun for a firewall.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Guardian Firewall claims to be the first proper firewall app for iOS. It works by routing all the network connections from your iPhone or iPad through a VPN, and then filtering out privacy-invading trackers on Guardian’s own servers.

The idea is that all the heavy lifting is done on those servers, so you don’t have to worry about battery drain, or on the iOS security features that prevent an app from futzing with your internet connection.

Sounds good, but should you trust Guardian Firewall?