[Dshield] "Personal Firewalls" are mostly snake-oil?

Russell Washington russ.washington at vaultsentry.com
Tue Jul 23 17:29:44 GMT 2002

In all honesty, I don't see how you can protect a laptop without some kind
of 'personal firewall-ish' device and be practical about it.  Even if I was
in possession of the tiniest NetScreen (which more or less fits in my
palmprint) there's no way I'd carry it around and expect to be able to build
my own personal ethernet topology everywhere I went.

So in the case of the roving user requiring protection, the "P.F." is
probably the best you're going to get, unless I'm missing something.

-----Original Message-----
From: F. Millotti [mailto:fmillotti at glamm.it] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 8:11 AM
To: list at dshield.org
Subject: R: [Dshield] "Personal Firewalls" are mostly snake-oil?

Just a couple of thoughts:

a- it's too late now but... what if the definition "personal firewall"
[P.F.] could be changed into something else? I notice here, and in several
other mailists, that some people are hurt by the use of the term "Firewall"
together with "Personal". These software appliances are not exactly
firewalls, we agree, they just add a firewall-like protection, because of
some basic approach and feature, but the topology itself is not and cannot
be that of a firewall. So a further question is: does a P.F. do any good? It
seems that the majority here considers this device useful, and -accordingly
to some personal communications I had- also some gurus in this field adopted
them. Useless? maybe too complicate for average user, so there's room to
improve, but not useless.

b- The debate besides the P.F. should also cover another aspect I haven't
-yet- seen here: who is willing to include in his laptop's carrying bag the
smallest Cisco/Checkpoint/anyone else's firewall? Assuming that such PCs
may also need to be protected in order to avoid intrusion and whatever else
when they are on the road or at home (but not behind a FW) what is suggested
here to use? Is nothing better than a P.F.? is any other hardware device
available better than a P.F. for a mobile user? Who's willing to let tens of
millions of users let alone without a P.F. but possibly connecting back to a
corporate (or university) network sometimes?

Comments are welcome,

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