\[Editor's Note: The Buyer's Guide summarizes vendor-submitted information. To find out about future Buyer's Guide topics or to learn how to include your product in an upcoming Buyer's Guide, go to http://www.win2000mag.com/sh/ntlab/index.cfm. To view previous Buyer's Guides on the Web, go to http://www.win2000mag.com and select The Lab from the QUICK NAV menu.\]
Network security is a major concern for network administrators, regardless of their networks' size. Administrators with large network enterprises often rely on security specialists to handle configuring and maintaining a secure local intranet, but a network administrator in a small business probably isn't dedicated to that responsibility full time.
Administrators who aren't primarily responsible for network security might not know how to correctly configure and maintain a network firewall. Firewalls use somewhat arcane terminology and require that the administrator understands exactly how they function. Incorrectly configured firewalls can prohibit external visitors from accessing information they need or let them have access to data they shouldn't be able to access. At worst, an incorrectly configured firewall can stop local intranet users from performing crucial tasks such as sending or responding to external email.
For the busy network administrator, vendors produce firewalls that are as close to Plug and Play (PnP) as possible. However, selecting a firewall is a daunting task, even to an experienced network administrator. Product prices range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Feature sets range from a couple of dozen crucial configuration parameters to a detailed level of control that results in the administrator's ability to configure hundreds of parameters, alerts, and controls. This Buyer's Guide provides a starting point for network administrators to create firewalls that offer as much automatic configuration and ease of use as possible.