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24 August 2006, 15:32

Almost-free firewall from Ashampoo

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Ashampoo is now giving away its personal firewall at almost no cost: interested users need provide no more than their email address to be used for advertising purposes. The license allows for use on private computers as well as corporate systems.

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In addition to the standard blocking functions, the desktop firewall also integrates other tools. Hence the software can check for autostarts and allows the user to deactivate unwanted programs. There is also an on-board process scanner that can be used to end running processes. Private surfing data in the caches of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera as well as cookies and history can be searched and removed using the firewall's tools. The IP spam blocker allows for Windows Messenger service to be deactivated.

The firewall does not prevent software from breaking out via the web browser, nor are local connections inspected under the default settings, meaning that software can append itself to network ports and eavesdrop there. Once it attempts to establish a connection to the outside, however, the firewall recognises it and queries the user. The firewall comes with prefabricated rules for several popular programs, like Internet Explorer, Outlook (Express), Firefox, Thunderbird and others. This spares Ashampoo a number of steps during setup.

Users of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 don't actually need an additional firewall since the integrated Windows Firewall service shields against the outside. Where Windows 2000 is being used, however, a desktop firewall offers valuable options for protecting the computer. Anyone who doesn't mind a few more advertising emails can use Ashampoo firewall to protect computers either in the office or at home against attacks off the Net. However, Ashampoo has said that users can unsubscribe from receiving this material at any time.

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