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A few years ago when I first heard of the personal firewall concept, it didn't make sense to me. Administrators used firewalls to secure enterprise networks. And knowing that firewalls are complex and expensive devices, companies assigned dedicated administrators to maintain the firewalls. Why would an individual user need one? How would someone without a background in transport protocols understand a firewall well enough to implement it?

But as the Internet grew, it changed the structure of corporate business. Full-time high-speed access now lets more people work at home in a virtual-office capacity. Small remote offices leverage their Internet connections for connectivity to corporate offices. Yet many organizations still implement Internet connectivity via a simple router without protection. As the number of possible intrusion points to a network grows in step with the Internet, the time has come for Signal 9 Solutions' ConSeal PC FIREWALL for Windows NT.

I first found Signal 9's product when T1-speed dedicated Internet access came into my neighborhood at a reasonable cost. T1-speed Internet access let me connect my corporate and home offices. Security, however, was my first concern because I'm a consultant by trade, and T1 connectivity was a shared environment. When I searched the Internet for products to help me track and defeat any possible network intrusion attempts, I discovered ConSeal PC FIREWALL.

ConSeal PC FIREWALL is a low-cost personal firewall with capabilities comparable to those of more expensive corporate firewall products. This package lets you define rules specifying the traffic you will accept on your computer. By building rules based on protocol, IP address, service, direction of travel, and interface, you completely control what type of traffic you will let in and out of your system. A quick and easy installation requires only that you install the product's driver service in the Network applet of Control Panel under the Services tab. After you load the driver service, ConSeal PC FIREWALL is ready to protect your system.

By default, the product starts up the first time with a sample rule set designed for basic Internet connectivity needs. If these rules don't fit your requirements, however, you'll quickly fall in love with the program's default automatic rule generation. As traffic passes in and out of your system, ConSeal PC FIREWALL examines each packet. If a rule doesn't exist for a specific packet, the program provides interactive prompts that ask you to let the traffic through or block it. The interactive dialog the software displays is easy to follow. You see questions such as, "Your system wants to connect to, apparently for POP3. Allow it through?" When you select either Allow or Block, ConSeal PC FIREWALL builds a rule for you to cover that packet in a specific direction and to a specific IP address. Building a firewall rule set is highly intuitive because the product doesn't require any specific knowledge about which ports or protocols an application might use.

After running ConSeal PC FIREWALL, I noticed that at least once a week someone was scanning my home system for the BackOrifice server software—a remote-control client/server application that system intruders designed to gain control of Windows 9x systems. I'm careful to not let Trojan horse programs infect my system, yet if I had inadvertently installed BackOrifice, ConSeal PC FIREWALL would have blocked any system intruders' attacks by disallowing the incoming and outgoing BackOrifice packets.

ConSeal PC FIREWALL can apply its rules to either dial-up connections or Ethernet interfaces, and it can apply them continuously or only when you run specific applications. Comprehensive logging gives you a complete record of what the software blocked or rejected, and you can protect the rule set with a password in addition to transporting rule sets between systems. Therefore, you can deploy standard corporate rule sets across all outside devices, such as mobile laptops and virtual-office PCs. This software is definitely worth looking into if you have any concerns about unprotected devices.

Contact: Signal 9 Solutions
613-599-9010 or 800-332-7325
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