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How to Fix Firewall Blocking Internet
A firewall that blocks internet access can be incredibly frustrating. If you can’t get online, you can’t access email, websites, streaming services, games, and more. Not being able to get on the internet makes it seem like your device is useless.
Don’t worry – in most cases, firewall issues blocking internet access can be easily fixed by adjusting a few settings. With some simple troubleshooting, you’ll likely have your internet connectivity restored in no time.
How Can You Tell If Your Firewall Is Blocking the Internet?
There are a few key signs that your internet connectivity issues are likely caused by a firewall blocking access, including:
- You have no internet access on a device, but your network itself has a valid internet connection.
- Resetting network equipment like routers and modems doesn’t fix the internet connectivity problem.
- You cannot access the internet via any browser or internet-based apps on the problem device.
- Trying to visit websites results in messages that access was forbidden, blocked or prohibited.
- You cannot connect to virtual private networking (VPN) servers through third-party VPN apps.
- Pinging internet websites by IP address doesn’t work, but pinging sites on your local network does work.
If you’re experiencing these specific issues, your firewall is likely the culprit blocking internet connectivity. Checking your firewall settings should provide confirmation by revealing restrictive rules.
First Steps for Fixing Firewall Blocking Internet Access
If your firewall is blocking all internet traffic, a full loss of internet access can feel alarming. But don’t panic – resolving the issue is usually very simple. Follow these initial troubleshooting steps:
Check if other devices on the same network can access the internet. If it’s only one device without connectivity, firewall settings on that device are likely the issue. If other devices also cannot access the internet, it may be a router, modem or ISP issue instead.
Reboot the problem device and restart the firewall service. A simple restart can reset any transient firewall blocking issues caused by temporary bugs or glitches.
Check the firewall app or settings. Review the active firewall rules looking for anything that could broadly block internet traffic. Temporarily disable the firewall to test if internet access is restored.
Uninstall recently added security or VPN software. If connectivity issues cropped up after installing new security or VPN apps, uninstalling them may resolve the problem.
Update firewall and operating system software. Outdated firewall apps or OS issues could sometimes trigger blocking problems that updates may fix.
Google specific error messages for firewall-related connectivity issues details and fixes. Adding “resolved” or “fixed” to searches can uncover previously posted solutions.
If you confirm the firewall is the cause of blocked internet access, you can move on to the next troubleshooting steps of checking and adjusting firewall rules.
Check Active Firewall Rules for Issues Blocking Internet Access
Once you confirm your firewall settings correlate with loss of internet connectivity, carefully check all active firewall rules for anything that could block access. Firewall rules control how (or if) traffic can flow to and from networks and the internet. Rules too severely restricting that traffic flow can cut off access.
Follow these tips when analyzing firewall rules:
- Study all inbound and outbound traffic rules. Overly limiting rules in either direction can interrupt connectivity.
- Check rules related to allowed IP addresses, ports and protocols. Issues with whitelists, blacklists and allowed ports/protocols can block traffic.
- Review rules added via security scans. Some anti-spyware apps tweak rules after scans in ways that block access.
- Check for conflicting rules canceling out permits. One rule may allow port 80 web traffic while another blocks it.
- Temporarily disable all non-default firewall rules and test access. This can reveal if any custom rules cause problems.
- Disable the entire firewall temporarily. If internet connectivity is restored, you can narrow down which rules caused blocking when re-enabled one-by-one.
Isolating any problematic custom firewall rules blocking internet connectivity allows you to adjust or remove only those rules later. Default rules should generally allow internet access, but can sometimes also have overly restrictive settings.
Adjust Firewall Rules to Allow Internet Access
Once you’ve identified the specific firewall rules blocking internet connectivity, you can adjust those rules to restore access while keeping other security protections in place.
Here are tips for adjusting firewall rules blocking internet access:
Open ports and protocols for internet traffic – Make sure appropriate ports like port 80 (HTTP web traffic) and 443 (HTTPS encrypted web traffic), as well as essential internet protocols are allowed in rules.
Adjust IP address restrictions – Whitelist public IP address ranges like those for ISPs and cloud hosting providers if blocked. Remove blacklisted public IP ranges not tied to specific security threats.
Evaluate security rule restrictions – Review limitations put in place by security software and ensure they aren’t too broadly blocking traffic. For example, some anti-spyware apps block all traffic from entire countries.
Allow critical connectivity-related apps – Make sure rules don’t block access for critical OS or connectivity applications, which require internet access to function properly.
Create permissions for essential public services – Add rules allowing communication with essential public services like DNS, NTP, OCSP, internet geolocation services, operating system updates/checks and more. Blocking access to these can create connectivity issues.
Check for overlapping conflicting rules – Edit rules that conflict with and negate permissions granted elsewhere. Give more specific high priority permissions rather than broad blocking rules where possible.
Adjust overly restrictive firewall rules incrementally, testing connectivity after each change. Stop making adjustments once internet access is reliably restored.
Reset Firewall Settings to Restore Default Internet Access
If you cannot isolate what custom firewall rules are blocking internet access, or if default rule sets have problems, resetting the firewall settings may be the quickest option to restore connectivity.
Resetting will clear all custom rules and revert back to firewall developer defaults that generally allow open internet access. All custom security tweaks will be lost, but you can re-implement needed protections one-by-one after confirming normal connectivity.
Follow these tips when resetting firewalls due to blocked internet access:
- Consult firewall documentation for proper reset procedures. Methods vary across Windows, Mac, Linux, routers, and third-party endpoint firewall apps.
- Note existing custom rules you may want to re-implement after confirming restored connectivity. Take screenshots of custom settings panels before reset.
- Temporarily lower or disable other security software during reset and subsequent re-implementation. This avoids conflicting new custom rules.
- Re-activate rules in small batches later while repeatedly checking that each new batch does not block connectivity. Isolate any new problem rules immediately to fix.
- Create rules granting internet access before limiting rules. First permit access, then carefully implement scaled-back restrictions that don’t break connectivity.
- Don’t reset it again as first troubleshooting step in future. Check rules first, reset only if adjusting rules fails to fix blocking issues.
Resetting firewalls that block internet access gets connectivity restored quickly, but requires re-configuring custom security rules after. Avoid needing repetitive resets by using measured troubleshooting to narrow down specific problem rules.
Call Your ISP for Assistance
Some connectivity issues arise from ISP-related problems beyond firewall device settings. Issues like network outages, equipment failures, misconfigurations on the ISP’s side, or even accidental account suspensions can all manifest as loss of internet access.
If you cannot resolve blocked internet connectivity issues through firewall resets and rule adjustments, contact your internet service provider for additional troubleshooting help.
When you call or chat with ISP technical support:
- Clearly describe the connectivity problem symptoms you are experiencing.
- Detail the troubleshooting steps you have already tried on your own devices and network.
- Ask if there are any known service issues in your area that could explain the problem.
- Work cooperatively as ISP techs walk through additional diagnostic and resolution steps with you.
In many cases, ISPs can implement fixes on their infrastructure to restore internet connectivity blocked at the source rather than just on local devices. But clear and specific details from you on the symptoms and history help them properly diagnose where solutions need to be applied. Developing a collaborative working relationship, rather than just demanding the provider “fix it now,” typically yields the fastest and most satisfactory results.
Implement Ongoing Firewall Precautions
Even once you resolve issues of a firewall blocking internet access, some ongoing precautions can help prevent frustrations from recurring in the future:
- Record resolved custom rules. Keep a master list of custom configured firewall rules you confirm do not cause blocking problems, making reconfiguring easier if a reset is ever needed again down the road.
- Use firewall rule change alerts. Configure most firewall software to send notifications whenever rules are altered, quickly revealing bad changes that require reversing.
- Don’t ignore connectivity loss alerts. Configure firewall or endpoint security notifications for loss of internet connectivity so you can respond in a timely manner to new blocking issues arising.
- Keep firewall and security software updated. Software updates often include fixes to erroneous default rules that could restrict internet access or conflict with other protections.
- Review rules after major network changes. Significant things like switching ISPs, routers, expanding your LAN, or adding VLANs/subnets can necessitate firewall rule tweaks to keep internet access open.
Staying vigilant ensures your firewall protects without being overbearing and lets you resolve new internet connectivity issues quickly should they pop up.
Losing internet connectivity due to a firewall blocking access can be immensely aggravating. But in most cases, resolving the connectivity loss simply comes down to taking the time to systematically check firewall rules for issues, make measured adjustments to overly restrictive policies, resetting faulty default deny settings, or rolling back problematic recent changes.
Pay attention to error messages and connectivity loss notifications to diagnose if a firewall is the likely cause of problems blocking internet access. Thoughtfully test modifications in small increments to permissions and settings to narrowly target fixes that don’t reduce protections. You can even leverage technical support from your ISP if issues originate upstream from your personal device firewall policies.
With some targeted troubleshooting steps, level-headed analysis of firewall rules and settings, and a dash of patience, you’ll likely have full internet access quickly restored without sacrificing security. Just be sure to lock things back down and check for openings once connectivity is regained.
What are the risks of completely disabling a firewall that is blocking internet access for troubleshooting?
The main risk is that without any firewall protection at all, your device has exposure to predators and threats on public networks. Malicious actors can more easily access an unprotected system to steal data, implant malware or spyware, or commit identity fraud.
It is wise to only disable firewall protection temporarily during active troubleshooting steps. Please re-enable the firewall as soon as connectivity is confirmed working properly.
Do not leave your system completely unprotected overnight or while away. And avoid browsing financial, healthcare, government or other sensitive accounts from a system with fully disabled firewalls, even just temporarily during troubleshooting.
If restarting my device fixes firewall-related loss of internet access, does that mean the problem is fully resolved?
Not necessarily. Some firewall blocking issues arise temporarily from random bugs, glitches or transient conflicts. In these cases, a simple restart that clears these problems allows normal connectivity to come back as the firewall and other networking components reinitialize correctly.
However, many persistent or recurring firewall-related internet blocking scenarios are caused by misconfigured rules, overly restrictive defaults, or clashing settings across multiple security tools. So while a device restart or firewall service restart may temporarily provide connectivity, the underlying configuration issues still need to be tracked down and corrected to prevent problems popping up again down the road.
What risks are there from making incremental firewall rule changes and trying to get internet access restored?
The main risk with tweaking firewall rules to open access is going too far in the permissions granted and opening security holes in the process. For example, an adjustment may unintentionally allow harmful inbound traffic from untrusted sources in addition to the needed outbound permissions to legitimate sites. Or addresses may be whitelisted too broadly rather than tightly restricting access permissions only to essential sites and services.
That is why it is critical to make only measured, targeted rule changes in small increments when attempting to adjust incorrectly blocking rules. After each incremental adjustment, carefully test access and inspect traffic to confirm no unnecessary exposure was created. Roll back broader changes methodically if needed, taking notes on which rules open connectivity without creating security risks.
If my internet service is working fine on other devices, does that definitely rule out a firewall issue on my problem device?
Not necessarily. Many firewalls today implement rules on a per-device basis rather than broadly across full networks. So it is possible that a firewall misconfiguration or overly restrictive rule is blocking internet access locally on just a single endpoint, without impacting connectivity for other devices on the same network.
That said, if you confirm all endpoints cannot browse the internet or access online apps/services, it does point to a more likely network equipment, router or ISP-based connectivity issue vs. a single local device firewall problem. But individual device firewalls can still cause internet blocking without preventing access across an entire network.
Is there anything I should do from a security standpoint after I resolve firewall blocking of internet access?
Yes. Once internet connectivity is restored, you should review your device’s full suite of security protections to look for weaknesses that may have been created inadvertently during troubleshooting steps.
For example, you may have fully disabled security tools like antivirus apps during the resolution process. Be sure to re-enable and update these to keep maximum security coverage on an endpoint going forward.
Also, inspect firewall rule changes closely, and tighten up permissions that may have been granted too broadly in an effort to restore connectivity. Only traffic from trusted sites and services that are essential for system operation should remain whitelisted or unrestricted. Limiting rules added should be re-applied after confirming they don’t interrupt access.
Basically, walk through your device’s security posture top-to-bottom after the fact to ensure openings weren’t unintentionally created in the quest to get your internet connectivity back working. Any identified risks or weak points should then be sealed back up for safety.