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Protecting Your Linux System with FireStarter and Storm Firewall - page 6

Using a GUI to Configure a System

  • December 1, 2000
  • By Michael Hall
We'll confess that our initial reaction to this product was a little chilly. $100 seems like a lot of money to lay down for a GUI front-end to a fairly well documented tool. A few things helped us warm up to it:

First, the included manual is superb. There are books on the shelves of the local booksellers selling for $40 or more that, while they may provide a lot more text, give more than we really need to know to feel comfortable with the subject matter on a working basis. The manual was just right. Second, the technical support was excellent. The representative we spoke to was competent and knowledgeable. Sixty days of support like that on a product may well be worth $100 to people with the burden of safeguarding a network from harm.

Storm Firewall still isn't going to be for everybody. $100 is a lot to pay for a home network with fairly static characteristics and few services to worry about. The complexity of the tool also moves it out of the comfort zone, since half its functionality is wasted on basic home users.

We'd still enthusiastically recommend it to professional users, though, who will probably not mind having their company pay the money to provide them with a tool that makes their lives a little easier or give them the cushion of solid technical support.

Parting Note

FireStarter and Storm Firewall are both great packages if deployed in the appropriate context. One thing we noticed both lacked, though, is an automated response system of any sort. It's up to the user to note a potential attack or hostile scan in the logs and specifically disable access by a host. To a certain extent, that's no big deal: if the firewall's sound, the kiddies can come and scratch at the door to no great effect. Both offer easy righ-click menus that allow the offending host to be dropped forever. According to Stormix's Simon Kirby, though, automated reactions to trigger events is under consideration for the next version of the product, due out early next year.

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