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Re: suggestions on a good firewall
From: "planz" <planz235 () hotmail com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 17:42:44 +0800

When it comes to choosing a good firewall, it depends on how paranoid are
you towards security and how lazy are you in maintaining the firewall. It
determines your choice of firewall.

In other wise, How much you want to spend on firewalls and how much
resources are you going to involve in maintaining security.  These two
aspects going in opposite side to one another.

There is no good or bad firewall, each has its own merits and demerits.

Regards,
Planz

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <salgak () speakeasy net>
To: "Mark Ng" <laptopalias1-mark () informationintelligence net>;
<salgak () speakeasy net>; <security-basics () securityfocus com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 1:29 AM
Subject: Re: suggestions on a good firewall


Agreed.

A Windows box, properly locked down, can be a reliable firewall.

There's an element of truth to that - but I'm not sure I'd want to be the
person locking it down or keeping up to date with patches ;).  I also
wouldn't recommend Windows unless in an HA pair.

Which, in turn, required the Advanced Server version of Windows.  With a
much higher pricetag. .

There's also a very strong argument for openbsd and PF too (stability,
proven track record of security) - however, it's not as manageable as some
other solutions.

Any *.BSD solution can probably be a good one.  The trick, of course, is
having a good admin to run the system (see below)

Locking it down can be a chore, a much easier chore with Win2003
server, but still takes some expertise and finesse.  I prefer

I've not yet had any experience with 2k3, so I can't possibly comment.

Win2003 actually ships pretty much locked down.  You have to enable almost
ANYTHING, including IIS.  I guess MS has finally started listening to
people...

hardware firewalls with a firmware basis, as they're harder to
exploit, but many brands have reliability issues.  I'm currently
running Checkpoint and Gauntlet on Solaris, but this is a
production environment I've inherited.

If you're in the hardware firewall market, I quite like Netscreen and PIX.
Netscreen had some issues with some software upgrades being a bit buggy
some
time recently though iirc, but on the whole, they're fairly solid
firewalls
that are easy to administer.  PIX's of course don't have the pretty
graphical interface, but are solid firewalls.  I don't like Checkpoint,
any
firewall that comes by default with "Hidden Implied Rules" doesn't wash
with
me (is this still the case with newer versions of Checkpoint ?)

I like Netscreens as well: I used to go for SonicWalls, but in practice,
especially with their smaller boxes, I've found the hardware itself to be a
bit fragile, especially the power supplies. . .

For a good, relatively inexpensive firewall, I'd recommend the
Linux-Mandrake firewall solution, running on commodity Intel
hardware.  Simple to set up, fairly easy to run, easy to maintain.

Smoothwall definitely has its merits in this arena - and by extension I'd
imagine IPcop does too.

I like Mandrake for the interface and smooth install: a bonus for
inexperienced admins, especially ones new to *nix. . .

2. What can my sysadmin handle ?  A Junior MCSE handed a

To be honest, I don't really think an MCSE with small amounts of job
experience should ever be handed main security responsibility.  There's
merit to outsourcing security functions in this event if you're too small
to
justify full time security staff or experienced systems administrators
with
security experience.  Any firewall configured badly is a bad firewall, be
it
IPcop, Smoothwall, OpenBSD/PF , Checkpoint or whatever.

Many years ago, I **WAS** that junior MCSE handed that Slackware firewall.
And all of site security, for a small corporation. However, I was already
playing with Linux (RedHat 4-ish days), and so wasn't totally lost.  As
opposed to the ongoing joke about the MS Certified Linux Specialist: upon
detection of a Linux system, insert a DOS boot floppy, FDISK /MBR, and
install Windows. . .   <g>

Of course, that's also where I got my start of Solaris as well. . .  <g>

Regards

Keith



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