Whack the Hackers – Software Review

Whack the Hackers – Software Review – Evaluation

Joey Latimer


News reports of hackers commandeering innocent users’ PCs for their attacks have stressed the vulnerability of always-on cable or DSL modems with static Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. WatchGuard SOHO ($449; WatchGuard Technologies Inc., 800-734-9905, www. watchguard.com) is a new, reasonably priced way to protect against intrusion.

Besides firewall security, the device features Internet sharing for up to 10 users, office networking, and one virtual private network (VPN) client for remote access to an office LAN.

Installing WatchGuard SOHO was simple, though you’ll need at least one working Internet connection to register online and print the 10-page instruction guide beforehand. Once registered, we simply plugged our T1 modem/router (a cable or DSL modem would work as well) into the unit, then plugged the device into our PC’s Ethernet port. We had four Windows 98 systems connected to the Internet–sharing files with one another but shielded from intruders–within an hour.

WatchGuard SOHO serves as an Ethernet hub for basic file and print sharing, but the hub is limited to 5Mbps–half the speed of the hub you may already own. In the latter case, you’ll want to continue using your existing hub and daisy-chain it to the WatchGuard for Internet access.

As a bonus, the device includes a one-year subscription to WatchGuard’s Live-Security Service, which provides online software updates, tech support, and the ability to track Web usage. You can monitor the inbound and outbound traffic of your Internet connection and call friendly security staff for help if you see anything suspicious.


HOME OFFICE COMPUTING rates products on a scale of 1 to 10–with few 9’s or 10’s–based on value, performance, innovation [medals go to rare standouts in these areas], ease of use, and suitability for home offices. The [up arrow] and [down arrow] symbols indicate pros and cons.

[up arrow] Easy setup, firewall protection, and Internet sharing

[down arrow] Slower throughput than most network hubs

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