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Non-chargeable Firewalls, Better Defense Than Paid-for Ones

Research experts at David Matousec's matousec.com conducted tests on 21 leading products with the help of 26 assessment programs called "leak" testers.

77 test attacks were simulated on firewalls after configuring them using both 'out-of-the-box' and 'optimal security settings'. Points were awarded to each firewall on the basis of its ability to shield each 'leak test' in both modes.

'Leak test programs' are 'non-damageable' simulations of the attack process that spyware and other hacking techniques use to evade a firewall's 'outgoing security measures'. A higher score for a firewall shows its better performance against the series of 'leak tests'.

It was a surprising discovery that a 'paid-for' product was non-different to its ability to prevent attacks. The scores of the results distributed fairly evenly on the two categories. Some 'paid-for' products scored extremely low.

The researchers' methodologies, however, suffered criticism with respect to the treatment of products that integrate firewalls and anti-malware. Many of these products caught in the unusual behavior of the 'leak tests' had to disable their 'anti-malware modules' to finish the testing. According to some vendors, this brings down performance, as their firewalls are meant to function together with 'malware blocking' without non-essential overlapping.

The conclusion that follows is that many 'desktop firewalls' aren't very effective as shown by the tests that assess their ability. Also, even the good ones by default are not always protective enough. They require some degree of modification to discharge security of acceptable levels.

The researchers marked nine of the tested firewalls as "very poor" or "no" 'anti-leak protection'. This poses some concern, suggests the test commentary, because it indicates that even when malware programs were turning sophisticated, many vendors still do not bother about the 'outbound connection control' sufficiently.

A properly configured desktop firewall can be a valuable product for defense. Many vendors don't set a price for them because they use them as 'brand marketing tools' for other security items. Therefore, in the test that scored poorly for vendors is likely to draw hostility towards them.

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