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Comparison Chart

Although each firewall product can protect your computer and perhaps your home network, each has special functions that you might find more useful. Table 11.4 shows a brief description of the pros and cons of each program that was discussed in detail, and a basic conclusion about how each program performs.

Table 11.4. Product Comparison
BlackICE Defender 2.5Easy setup and installation

Visible and audible alert function

Added port filtering capability

Trace attacker IP address

Real-time alerting

Easy to understand

Lot of information available about attacks
No remote management

No capability to set up an internal protected network

False positive alerts

No password protection

Additional programs needed to enhance functionality

Remote administration capability not available

Cannot filter outgoing data
This is a good basic program. The alerting capability is just right—not too annoying and glaring in the middle of your screen, but enough to get your attention. The port filtering addition has increased its value exponentially. For basic functionality that you can just plug in and forget about, this is a great choice.
Norton Personal FirewallAutomatically configures Internet applications for access

Privacy controls are unique

Antivirus software built in

Auto update feature

Online Security testing site from Symantec.com to check rules

Autoblock feature

Easy-to-understand interface

Ability to block cookies and active content

Ability to set up specific port rules that are not already defined
Filtering is not enabled by default

Trusts entire local network by default

Default security level is set to minimal

Difficult to get attack data

Remote administration capability not available

No password protection
The privacy checking gives Norton a unique feature that the other products do not have. The test feature can be useful. The update capability allows Symantec to upgrade the product with minimal effort on the user's part. The reporting capability is rather poor. The information about attacks is not readily available, but is sorted in a manner that can be useful.
Tiny Personal FirewallPart of the ICSA Certified WinRoute Pro

Logs can be sent to a syslog server

Very compact

Provides MD5 checksums of programs

Easy to understand

Remote control capability

Password protection


Runs at startup by default

Asks if you want to allow applications and connections to occur

Ability to stop all traffic immediately Granular port rules can be set up
No explanation of the attack

No ability to remove ports or port ranges from the firewall's scrutiny

Reboot required after install

No advanced filtering (Java/JavaScript pop-up windows, and so on)

Web-based supportis confusing to locate

No reporting mechanism to display attack information on screen in real time

Cannot backtrack attacker to his IP address
Tiny Personal is a good free product. The Remote capability, although useful to administrators, will probably not see much use by home users. The lack of information on attacks and the inability to do lookups on attacker addresses can limit the usefulness of the product. Although the product is robust and has the ability to filter ports and IP addresses, it is not and the interface to easily understood, the port filtering is not intuitive.
Sygate Personal FirewallPowerful configuration options

E-mail notification

Lists all services running and the ports that are listening

Backtrace ability can track an attacker's IP and WHOIS information

Detailed list of security log information

System log show system functions, startup, and shutdown

Ability to stop all traffic immediately

Sygate Web site has test function to test your filter rules

Password protection available

Ability to enable or disable all system services
Test site doesn't always function

Remote administration capability not available

Pop-up alerts can be hard to understand if the incoming traffic is low-level and cryptic
Sygate Personal Firewall is a comprehensive firewall that has just about all the necessary features. The interface is easy to understand and displays information in an easy-to-read format. The logs of attacks can be readily viewed, and information on the attacker is easy to retrieve. The e-mail notification is a good feature not found in many of the other products. The out of the box security is very good for the new user.
WinRoute ProICSA Certified

Can monitor all outgoing traffic and ports used

Easy to set up DMZ network
Complex configuration requires network knowledge

No default filter rules installed

No blocking at startup with defined rules

No explanation of attack

More expensive than other products

No built-in auto update feature

Cannot backtrack attacker to his IP address
For the home user who has a good bit of networking knowledge and wants to set up a good home networked environment, WinRoute Pro is the best option. The ease of setting up rules can allow the novice to quickly grasp networking rules, and the help files are easy to understand. By far one of the best detailed firewall products on the market. You do have to have a good understanding of detailed filter rules to use this product correctly.
Zone Alarm ProStrict default configuration

Runs at startup by default

Ability to block incoming and outgoing traffic

Easy-to-understand user interface

Ability to stop all traffic immediately

Ability to block application attacks such as worms and Java

Ability to check for certain e-mail attacks

Password protection
Remote administration capability not available Alerts might not be readily understood if the traffic is not intuitive With simple network settings and a great interface, this adds up to a powerful Internet security package. The addition of more advanced configuration options would be useful and would complete the already impressive feature set of this package. Even without this feature, ZoneAlarm proves to be a valuable product.



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