The SoftLink Firewall

SoftLink has built a new hardware device that fits between your router and server, or between your router and network switch. This device is not just a firewall, it acts as a complete front line of defence for your network. These are the main features of this device:

Firewall

The Firewall prevents traffic in or out of the network on ports other than those specified. This means that software cannot attack a computer by using a TCP/IP port that might normally only be used internally, or by using a non-standard port for doing what is normally done on a standard port.

Web Filter

Control what sort of web sites people can visit. Eg block social networking sites and auction sites like ebay. There is a great temptation for employees to look at social sites like Facebook, or feel a need to keep on an eye on something they want to bid on. What might start out as a quick couple of minutes can soon turn into an hour of lost time. This software also monitors all web site access.

Protocol Control

Block use of sites such as MSN messenger by blocking the protocols they use for instant messaging. Instant messaging can be a constant source of distraction if left unchecked, but this can be prevented with Protocol Control.

Virus Blocker

Block viruses both within emails and coming from web sites. It provides a strong first line of defence. It does not make the desktop antivirus unnecessary, but when used in combination with the normal desktop antivirus, it is really hard for a virus to get onto your system.

Spyware Blocker

Spyware blocker prevents access to websites which attempt to load spyware onto the network computers. It does this by means of blacklists and the blocking of malicious active-x controls. It can also be used to block adverts within pages, reducing internet traffic.

Spam Blocker

The spam blocker checks all mail and sieves out what is probably spam and quarantines it. The blocking can be configured to either use a heuristic “is this like spam” approach, a spam blacklist, or both. The strength of the spam filtering can be adjusted if the heuristic approach is used, and the blocked email can be examined just in case it wasn’t spam!

Phish Blocker

Phish blocker scans incoming email for phishing attacks, and also checks visited web sites against a phishing site database. (Phishing web sites pretend to be your bank/credit card company and try to get you to give them details of your accounts.)

Attack Blocker

Attack blocker protects against attacks using mal-formed network packets, Denial of Service attacks, and so on.

Intrusion Prevention

Intrusion prevention uses a system of examining activity between a computer and a website and looking to see if the behaviour follows a known pattern of attack. If so the website is blocked. This kind of protection is necessary because some attack methods use a sequence of steps to take over a computer rather than a single step. So Intrusion Prevention uses pattern analysis to defeat them. It also halts the activities of Trojans by detecting and preventing their typical patterns of behaviour.

Reporting

The SoftLink firewall will provide reports of all activity from all the different components listed above. (You can turn off what you don’t want.) The Web Control component, for instance, shows which computers connected to where, when and for how long. This report is very useful in identifying and following up situations where employees are abusing the company’s internet provisions. Giving each computer a fixed IP address makes identification easier, but better still, by adding the Active Directory connector, the name of the logged in person is inserted instead of the IP address of the computer. Unfortunately, the connector is proprietary and is charged at $7/month up to 10 monitored users, and $15/month up to 50 monitored users (the company is American!). But the inclusion of this add-on makes identification of the users very easy indeed. The reports are emailed to you so you don’t even need to go looking for them!

OpenVPN

In addition to all this protective activity, two of these units can be used at opposite ends of an internet connection to provide a permanent link between two offices. The two units provide the secure link through which your businesses network traffic can pass. The computers at each end of the link will behave as if they are on the same network, without having any special software installed. It has to be realised however that the internet provides a very slow network link compared with the normal speed of a network. Note: the SoftLink Firewall can provide the VPN link while doing all the protection activity at the same time.

Prices

SoftLink Firewall: £415 + VAT

Set-up SoftLink Firewall on site charged at our usual rates. If a server is in place, it will have to be reconfigured because the SoftLink Firewall effectively replaces the functionality of ISA server (if you have it). Allow 1 hr + 10 minutes per user.

Setup VPN link allow 1 hour at each office.

 

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