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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave... (How to Untangle The Web)

Anti-virus and firewall software is getting expensive, especially when you consider having to subscribe each year for each and every computer you may have on a home network. Your PC, one for each of your kids, one for your spouse, the Home Theater (I wish I had one), etc. Internet "Suites" offer more than just firewall and AV protection and generally cost more. They have things like anti-spam, anti-phishing protection, spyware blocking, web filtering, protocol support, and even intrusion prevention, which is probably more than most people have, but would be wise to have, especially if they have a home office from which they work from home for employment purposes.

Generally, some of the suites license only up to 3 computers, on which it must be installed on each. What if I told you, there's one that protects every computer connected to your network? What if I told you, it has all of the previously mentioned features? What if I told you, it updates automatically like the others? What if I told you, it only has to be installed on 1 of those computers? What if I told you, that it has an attack blocker? What if I told you, that it can do VPN, so you can access those files you forgot to bring with you? What if I told you that it also does reporting, so you can see where your kids/spouse have been surfing to? Now, what if I told you that it is free?

As long as you have it running on a computer on the wired side of your wireless router, it will offer protection to your wirelessly connected computers. It should be good for up to 25 computers on a network segment, so that home network supercomputer cluster should remain safe. Its extensible, too. You can buy Commercial Add-ons for it, or if you're into coding, write your own. Commercial Add-ons currently available are:
  1. eSoft Web Filter
  2. Branding Manager
  3. Kaspersky Virus Blocker
  4. PC Remote
  5. Remote Access Portal
  6. Active Directory Connector
  7. Policy Manager
This is open source software, but it is written by professionals. Its pretty slick, looks good and works really well. If you're installing to a computer running a Microsoft OS , you'll download the executible file, and if you intend on dedicating a machine to being a router/firewall/everything_but_the_kitchen_sink, know that you'll need two network interface cards (NICs.)

There is the small detail that it uses CPU time, disk space, and memory, plus makes your surfing a bit slower, which only the latter applies if you run a separate machine, but when your computer or entire network is down due to a virus or infection, or someone steals your banking data with a keylogger, this beats it with a cudgel.

Untangle installs VMWare, a virtual machine and several services on your computer, as well as the dotnet framework, taking up some 2.36G of HD space.

Windows users should download Untangle's Re-Router Technology and if you have an extra computer on your network that matches the requirements (not much), download the Untangle Server.

Update: After running an upgrade, I found I was having some major problems with Untangle running my CPU usage up to 100% for extended periods of time. I finally got tired of rebooting my computer and instead went to "Launch VMWare Console" and rebooted the Linux/Untangle image. This cleared up the problem.


At Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 1:09:00 AM EST, Blogger Mona $visitorIP said...

This sounds too good to be true. But it must be true since you explain it.

Yes every year the protection system costs quite a bit & if this is for free, it is like getting lottery!

Thanks for the information!

At Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 12:43:00 PM EST, Blogger ivan $visitorIP said...

This is highlly interesting as I have just bought a new machine and am an innocent abroad out there.

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