Security Spotlight: Personal Firewall Software (1 of 3)
This will be the first of three installments on firewall software: critical software that straddles the boundary between internal and external sides of an Internet or other “outside network” connection and inspects traffic inbound and outbound. Firewalls come in lots of flavors, with lots of different capabilities. Today’s focus is on so-called “personal firewalls” which are designed to protect single systems or small single-segment networks connected to the Internet.
While a personal firewall is optional (and perhaps overkill) for transient dial-up connections, it’s good practice to use one when cable modem, DSL, or other more or less permanent, “always-on” Internet connections are used. Most personal firewalls come pre-configured with basic, reasonably safe defaults that provide fairly workable security right out of the box. Many personal firewalls can be further tuned and tweaked to tighten up security to whatever level may be desired (within the capabilities of such software, which is often limited when compared to enterprise- or business class firewall products). But because most personal firewalls seldom cost more than $100 (and many free or shareware products of this kind are available) such limitations clearly fall under the heading of “you get what you pay for.”
Companies or organizations seeking to protect work-at-home or traveling employees’ Internet connections probably won’t find personal firewall software suitable for their needs. That’s because such products are not generally designed to support remote access and control, don’t support policy-based filters or screening capability, and are seldom amenable to centralized management and control. Part 2 of this 3 part story will talk about other small scale firewall software that does have these characteristics so that business users can locate products to meet those needs. Table 1 provides pointers to some general personal firewall resources, and to a handful of the most popular personal firewall products.
Table 1: Personal firewall software and resources
Home PC Firewall Guide
Sygate Personal Firewall Pro 5