Desktop Security: Senforce Portable Firewall Plus

Senforce's Senforce Portable Firewall Plus

Senforce Portable Firewall Plus
Senforce Price: Starts at $189.50 for a five-user license

Senforce Portable Firewall Plus is tailored to meet the security needs of small businesses.

Like large enterprises, small organizations are wide open to attack inside the perimeter firewall through compromised laptops, unauthorized portable storage devices and employees' use of peer-to-peer file-sharing applications. Desktop firewalls have evolved from personal home defense applications to enterprise-level security tools, and now the Senforce Portable Fire-wall Plus (SPF+) presents a viable endpoint security solution for SMBs.

Senforce has a solid understanding of small businesses' needs. SPF+ is easy to install, configure and maintain with its powerful wizards and intuitive GUI--a prime consideration for overtaxed admins.

We encountered no problems when installing SPF+, even with another personal firewall running. As its name implies, SPF+ is highly portable, with the built-in ability to automatically learn its network environment. The user clicks a taskbar icon to select Work, Home, Alternate or Unknown location, and SPF+ will interpret the type of network by discovering the connected NICs for protocol settings, making configuration extremely easy. Security policies were simple to set up for both Home and Work environments.

There's no native central management, but the firewall can be installed and policies set and modified through use of Active Directory and login scripts. Senforce's Mobile Enterprise Security Manager (sold separately) gives enterprises a centralized management console.

The firewall can be set up to block, allow or adapt to application requests via the SPF+ Editor, which defines the policies used by SPF+. Many common P2P applications, such as Kazaa, are denied network access by default. We had no problems setting rules to block different applications through SPF+'s intuitive wizard.

SPF+ pays serious attention to wireless security. For example, we could create a policy to disable wireless network cards to protect the organization from unauthorized P2P wireless networks and to shut off wireless use if it conflicted with company policy. SPF+ also has great "LockOn" feature that locks an XP computer to a specific access point, preventing it from accidentally jumping to another network.

SPF+ also reflects Senforce's focus on endpoint security, enforcing policies through access control. For example, we tested SPF+ by deliberately deleting the definition file that requires a connecting machine to be running Norton Anti-Virus. SPF+ immediately flagged it and supplied a link to NAV's LiveUpdate. We easily set up custom warnings to provide launch links to IP addresses, URLs and even applications for remediation. Other endpoint security features include disabling write access to the CD drive and preventing the mounting of portable media, such as USB drives.

SPF+ is a feature-rich desktop firewall that includes more than just a nod at endpoint security.

With SPF+, SMBs will get the security that, until now, has been available only to enterprises.

--Greg Balaze

This was first published in February 2005

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