Raptor 6.5 has new interface

There are many noticeable enhancements to Axent Technologies Inc.’s Raptor Firewall 6.5, according to Mike Fleming, the MIS director at The Winters Company in Tucson, Ariz. The company, which offers engineering and consulting services to the mining and metallurgical industry worldwide, has been running the latest version of the firewall in beta for the past three months.

But Fleming has been using the Raptor Firewall product since the 4.0 release. And so far, he has been very pleased with the ease of use of the Raptor 6.5.

“I don’t think security products will ever be something that an average user can master, and the user interface on this newer product is significantly closer to allowing non-extremely technical people to understand where things are, how to find them and adjust them,” he said.

More specifically, Fleming liked the way the features are integrated into the interface. One of those features, he said, is the ability to generate reports for what each object or rule or network object has in relation to other things.

“In previous versions, you had to go look at them,” Fleming explained. “There wasn’t an automated way to generate a configuration status report.”

The Raptor Firewall 6.5 addresses a dual challenge that companies are facing, according to Eve Hofert, the product marketing manager for Rockville, Md.-based Axent, which are “to enable the proper access over the Internet, and to engage in business to be successful.”

The new version also “integrates quite a lot of different types of technologies, such as packet filtering and application proxy technology,” she said.

Some new additions to the product include enhanced GUIs and new wizards for monitoring installations and configurations of remote VPNs and firewalls. Axent wanted to increase the security and ease of use, according to Hofert.

“We have done this by supporting what we call Generic Service Passers (GSPs),” she said. “We couldn’t possibly write a proxy for every application or protocol out there any more. The Internet is growing way too quickly and there are way too many protocols being written these days.”

The product essentially allows a way for an administrator to define protocols that can be passed securely through the firewall by these GSPs, Hofert said. The 6.5 can allow TCP/UDP or IP-based protocols to pass through, she said.

And, she added, if you need to authenticate any of those types protocols, and they don’t follow current standard authentication techniques, the 6.5 now supports out-of-band authentication(OOBA), which will authenticate protocols that don’t follow any known standard, she said.

For evaluation purposes, the firewall can now run for 30 days without a licence key. If a site has a system issue during this time, during non-business hours, the server can be rebuilt and the firewall can be installed by the administrator.

This is related to the only problem Fleming encountered with the 6.5. He said while testing the beta two version of the product, the temporary licence key expired.

“It shut down without giving appropriate error messages,” he said. “When I called that back to their (Axent’s) engineering, they had another code out to me same day.”

But Fleming said he doesn’t think it was a potentially serious or recurring problem. He compared it to a situation-based occurrence, like when a car runs out of gas. Fleming had not installed the 6.5 as a licence key, as he had it running on the evaluation time period. The problem occurred simply because that time period had expired, he explained.

Another difference between the older version and the new, Hofert explained, is that the older version combined the VPN with the firewall. But in the latest version, Axent has split the two, which provides “the customer with the flexibility to purchase either the firewall, the VPN, or both, or one and part of the other,” she said.

As well, the 6.5 features support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories, which allow authentication components of the product to authenticate users.

Fleming said he has been impressed with Axent and its reception to ideas and suggestions from the beta testers.

“Whenever I found a good problem, I would document it and send it to them,” he said. “I’ve gotten a response, I’d say, within a day on everything.”

Axent’s Raptor Firewall 6.5 will be available for the Windows NT platform this month at a starting price of US$1,995, with free client software.

Integration for the product includes International Computer Security Association (ICSA) certification, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) interface, standard IPSec VPN technology, Entrust-Ready public-key infrastructure (PKI)encryption support and integration with other Axent e-security and authentication products.

For more information, see Axent Technologies at www.axent.com.