Robust Open Source Firewall Solutions
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It is not enough to protect ourselves from viruses, worms, malware, and other kinds of malicious applications. A dedicated firewall is a security measure that helps us to prevent unauthorized access to or from our network. In this article we are going to present six open source firewall solutions. These won’t be simple apps that act only as firewalls, but rather feature-laden suites offering commercial-like functions.
Before we kick start this article it would be worthwhile to explain the main purpose of a firewall, as well as its inner workings. In a nutshell, a firewall is either software (running as a service/daemon on a server, for example) or a device that enforces a set of rules such as "permit" and "deny." Basically, the criteria are customizable and depend on the user.
Nowadays the functionalities of a firewall have been expanded with various other useful features. Here we cannot forget about network address translations (NAT), routing, state table, virtual private networks (VPN), dynamic DNS, additional DHCP capabilities, the ability to act as a PPPoE server, and more; some even include network intrusion prevention systems. We’ll name the firewalls that have become “all-in-one” suites.
In this article we are going to describe and briefly present the following firewall solutions: SmoothWall, Endian, ClarkConnect, pfSense, Untangle, and Shorewall. Each of them is a free, open source, and robust firewall suite, in no particular order. There are unique differences between them, and it is up to the user to test drive and decide which one really fits his or her requirements. We’ll maintain an objective point of view.
This being said, let’s begin with the first three.
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