If your company is going to provide Internet access, you need to protect your network before establishing that connection. Numerous Windows NT-based firewall protection systems are available, and Ukiah Software is making quite a splash with NetRoad FireWALL 2.1.
A Peek Under the Hood
Sporting an integrated security platform that supports both NT and NetWare operating systems (OSs), NetRoad is compatible with TCP/IP and IPX networks. NetRoad is basically two products in one: an IP firewall with a Network Address Translator (NAT) and an IPX-to-IP gateway. Because the software supports the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) standard and integrates into Netscape Directory Server or Novell Directory Services (NDS), systems administrators can manage firewalls from one location. Ukiah claims that NetRoad will integrate into NT 5.0's Active Directory (AD) in the near future.
NetRoad is a hybrid firewall consisting of an application gateway, a circuit gateway, and a packet filtering system, so it is more diverse than the average proxy server or packet filter. NetRoad is also flexible and easy to use. The product provides several methods for monitoring its operational state and alerting the systems administrator to possible problems. Using email, paging, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) traps, or on-screen messages, NetRoad informs administrators about firewall events, then creates log entries for problems or suspicious activity.
Installation and Configuration
My NetRoad installation went smoothly. After I defined the internal and external Ethernet cards, I configured the software to run on an NT domain, established the domain name and a Domain Name System (DNS) search order, and disabled the IPX gateway. (My network doesn't use IPX.) Then, I fired up the administration interface and configured the necessary firewall security rules for each protocol (e.g., Web and email). As Screen 1 shows, the administration interface uses tabbed notebook-style screens, which are easier to use than the pull-down menus found in most software.
Next, I configured my client workstations to use the firewall. I simply changed the default gateway address, directing clients to the firewall as the gateway. On NetWare systems, you must also install a small client module before the IPX system can talk directly with the firewall.
Overall, installing and configuring NetRoad was a breeze. Ukiah has done a stellar job in making NetRoad's learning curve as flat as possible. As a result, I quickly learned how to setup and manage the firewall.
Smooth Spots and Bumps in the Road
NetRoad has several features that provide a smooth ride to system security. First, the NAT obscures and protects your real IP address. Second, if you work for a firm that built its TCP/IP network years ago using a nonroutable address allocated for public use by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA--e.g., 10.0.0.0 network), you won't have to renumber any machines; NAT will translate the addresses for you as traffic moves through the firewall. Third, you can choose from three forms of user authentication, including one-time passwords.
NetRoad has a few bumps, however. The software doesn't implement any Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology or support Remote Access Service (RAS) for Internet connections.
A Competitive Contender
Overall, NetRoad's easy installation and configuration, user-friendly administrative interface, and helpful features make it a quality product. If you're shopping for an NT-based firewall, NetRoad could be the answer, especially if you're using IPX on your network.
|NetRoad FireWALL 2.1|
| Contact: Ukiah Software 408-369-2890 or 800-988-5424 |
Price: $995 (10 users)
FireWALL Server for Windows NT: Windows NT Server or Windows NT Workstation 4.0, TCP/IP stack, At least 2 network interface cards, 200MHz Pentium processor or better, 20MB of hard disk space, 200MB swap file, 32MB of RAM
FireWALL Server for NetWare: NetWare 4.x or intraNetWare, Novell's TCP/IP stack, At least 2 network interface cards, 133MHz Pentium processor or better, 20MB of hard disk space, 16MB of RAM