3Com upgrades embedded firewall

The newest version of 3Com’s Embedded Firewall Solutions includes Linux support, better scalability for large domains and enhanced security features, the company said Monday.

The Embedded Firewall Solutions are firewalls 3Com integrates into its network interface cards for laptops, desktops and servers.

“It provides access control to the network,” said John Hagerman, vice-president of connectivity product management for 3Com. “It’s part of a defence in-depth philosophy.”

The previous version of the firewall had supported only clients running the Windows operating system. The new version 2.0 includes support for Linux 2.4, as well as Windows 2003 Server.

3Com has also boosted the scalability of the cards from 3,000 users per domain to 25,000 users.

Finally, 3Com has added a client fallback option to the cards, so if clients can’t reach a policy server, the card will default to the last defined security policy. In the past if cards weren’t able to connect to a policy server, they would allow only limited access to network resources.

The main competition for the embedded firewall is software-based firewalls running on clients. Hagerman said. One big advantage to the embedded firewall, he explained, is that because it’s part of the hardware, users can’t turn the firewall off.

“With software-based firewalls, users will often turn them off and expose the network to a virus,” Hagerman said.

Also, because the firewalls are based in hardware, they work independently of a computer’s operating system, making the firewall more resistant to malicious code, or operating system vulnerabilities, Hagerman explained.

3Com embedded firewalls can be managed centrally through the 3Com Embedded Firewall Policy Server.

Dan McLean, an analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said the embedded firewall would be very useful to enterprises with mobile workforces.

“If I’m out there and mobile on the road, I’m not protected by the firewall that exists within my enterprise LAN,” he said. “So I need that protection when I’m out there being mobile as well.”

The embedded firewall lineup includes the 3Com Firewall PC Card (for laptops), the 3Com Firewall PCI Card (for desktops and servers) and the 3Com Firewall Fiber PCI Card. 3Com also offers the 3Com Embedded Firewall Policy Server for centralized firewall management.

Customers with a 3Com EFW software licence can upgrade to the new firewall version for free. Pricing for customer without the licence starts at US$179 for the network cards and US$299 for the policy server.

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