Symantec has announced it will ship its first desktop firewall for business users, adding a range of network management and VPN features not found in the home PC version of the product.
The Desktop Firewall 2.0 is managed by a systems administrator through Web-based installation software that can be added to the corporate intranet.
An end user requiring the desktop firewall for his PC must complete a Web-based registration process before downloading the software. The firewall can also be managed through Microsoft's Systems Management Server software.
Still a new phenomenon compared to the more common corporate gateway firewalls, personal desktop firewalls are gaining attention as an important measure to prevent computer break-ins attempted by hackers exploiting the "always-on" Internet connections afforded by cable modems and DSL.
"The personal firewall may well become more significant in the long run than the corporate firewall," says Peter Lindstrom, senior analyst at US based consultancy the Hurwitz Group.
In addition to Symantec, WatchGuard, Network-1 Security Solutions, ConSeal, Sybergen, Zone Labs and Network ICE are marketing desktop firewalls.
Among the other new features in the enterprise version of Symantec's software is its ability to scan for Trojan horses, such as Back Orifice, a stealth program that lets hackers remotely commandeer a computer once it has been infected.
Another difference between the business and consumer versions is that the business version supports VPN client software. It works with VPN technology from Nortel and Cisco (as well as from Altiga, a company Cisco bought). Symantec plans to add support for Check Point VPN technology. However, there are currently no plans to support the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol-based VPN in Windows 2000.
Pricing for the firewall varies, but it is listed at $US27 per node for a 500-user licence, which includes one year of technical support and free upgrades. Australian pricing is not yet available.