When it comes to firewalls, I am a belt-and-suspenders guy. Although I run a network firewall appliance, I want my PCs to have a personal firewall installed too. Mac and Linux machines come equipped with decent personal firewalls, but Windows is another story. Since Windows XP's free firewall doesn't thoroughly inspect suspicious outbound traffic, I relied on Sygate's products. But when Symantec bought the firm and virtually removed the product from the market, I was left to search for a solid replacement. It was during my search that I found the Comodo Firewall.
While Comodo Group offers both commercial and freeware products, it insists that Comodo Firewall is truly free for private and professional/commercial use.
So why is this product a solid choice for an application-aware firewall? Well, for starters, it has a well-designed interface and has cleverly concealed embedded intelligence. Once installed, for example, its built-in application database recognizes over 10,000 programs, which means that you don't have to train the firewall for each "safe" application, and you won't get hammered with dialog boxes. It also puts ports and protocols into "stealth" mode, hiding them from outside probes.
Comodo Firewall will continually check active applications and their communications and will filter at the OSI Layers 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 while watching each application. You can customize the firewall so it filters down to the number of connections per minute that an application is allowed.
If suspicious activity is detected, color-coded communication alerts indicate the assumed level of security risk, providing information about the specific applications that are communicating via which ports, and addresses are sent to users. Rules can also be customized to allow or deny specific applications and ports, allowing the order of rule execution to be easily adjusted up or down the firewall ruleset stack.
Comodo Firewall has strong integrity protection mechanisms, is virtually impossible to disarm, and protects itself, its registry entries and the ruleset from tampering by viruses, worms and other malware.
Comodo Firewall is a solid choice for an application firewall; the application is continually updated, requests for assistance in its forums are quick, it has good application intelligence and provides well-balanced user configurability with ease-of-use.
About the Author:
Scott Sidel is an ISSO with Lockheed Martin.
Read Sidel's previous edition -- KeePass: Keeping passwords under lock and key
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This was first published in December 2006