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Desktop Firewalls

Decisions, Decisions

Before you choose a desktop firewall, determine whether you need a consumer- or enterprise-class model. Both provide similar security capabilities, but enterprise-class firewalls add centralized management and policy distribution. InfoExpress, Sybergen Networks and Securitae Corp. all sell centrally managed firewalls. Other vendors, including Internet Security Solutions (ISS) and ZoneLabs, offer both enterprise and consumer versions of their products.

If you have only a few users or need a firewall for your own machine, a consumer-class firewall might do the trick.

But tattoo this to your eyelids: End users should not have rights to modify firewall settings. Most centrally managed products offer ways to lock down policies. ISS's BlackICE PC Protection, for example, lets you install the product without a GUI.

Some firewalls let you override a policy. Sygate Technologies' Sygate Secure Enterprise Solution, for example, lets you create exceptions for individual users. Other products, such as those from InfoExpress, supply override passwords you can give a user if he or she needs to open a port or turn off the firewall. These special circumstances must be administrator-approved.

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