NetOp Desktop Firewall
It's no secret that software firewalls are less secure than hardware versions as they're prone to viruses, and can be disabled by malicious software. Danish software developer, Danware, has taken an interesting and unique approach to circumvent the problem by creating a firewall that runs as a software driver, and not a conventional application or service. This "driver-centric" model allows the firewall to be active as soon as Windows loads, without waiting for a firewall application to be executed separately. It is resident in memory from before Microsoft Windows establishes a network connection, making it virtually impervious to software attacks. Clever stuff.
- Simple, easy to use, stable.
- Popups initially annoying
If you’re after a simple, stable and reliable desktop firewall application to suit either a corporate or home environment, look no further.
Price$ 74.00 (AUD)
Upon first loading the software, the user is guided through a wizard to help setup and configure the protection. The user is prompted to allow or deny access whenever an application or service attempts to connect to the external network. These responses are saved and remembered for the next time. When running, the software appears to work like most other firewalls. Training the application takes a few days of using the computer, but after a while, the popup requests fade away as NetOp has mapped which apps will be in common use.
The application has an interface that looks like a regular Windows Explorer Window, with tasks listed in columns on the left hand side of the screen. It's clearly laid-out and easy to follow, and there's a large stop button to block all communication in the top panel.
The right hand column is broken up into three main categories: Firewall rules, Information, and Profiles. The Firewall rules section provides access to program settings, including which applications have access to which ports, which should be blocked, and which should be shutdown completely. It's also possible to work through the ports or protocols to fine-tune access to the outside world.
The Information section adds detailed logs and statistics that can be viewed based on either events or individual packets. The event log will suffice for most users, but the added packet log allows advanced technicians to drill down into the software and find out exactly what's going where.
Profiles allow you to modify the firewall and security settings on the fly and switch between a few presets when you're at home or out on the road. It's a useful feature for notebooks and mobile devices, but it's rarely needed in a desktop environment.
During testing, the firewall application remained stable and responsive, and did a stellar job of weeding out attacks from across a small business network. In fact, we were unable to sneak data past the application in several weeks of testing.
Though it's primarily pitched at corporate environments, the NetOp Desktop Firewall suite is equally appropriate for a home user. It's easy to use and effective thanks to the "driver-centric" approach, and is a top-notch product for any net-connected PC.
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