Outpost Firewall Pro

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Outpost Firewall Pro
Developer(s) Russia Agnitum
Stable release 9.1 (4643.690.1951) / February 24, 2014; 4 months ago (2014-02-24)[1]
Operating system Microsoft Windows 32-/64-Bit
Platform XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, Windows Server 2003, 2008
Type Firewall
License Proprietary EULA
Website www.agnitum.com

Outpost Firewall Pro was a software-based personal firewall package developed by Agnitum (founded in 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia). It is available in both paid and freeware versions. Paid version by default has 5 language packs - English, German, French, Spanish and Russian. Free version has only English interface and has not been updated since April 2009; it was replaced by Outpost Security Suite FREE in November 2010.[2]

General Description[edit]

Outpost Firewall Pro (personal firewall) is designed to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic on Windows machines. Like most advanced PC firewalls (ZoneAlarm, Comodo, etc.), Outpost goes beyond monitoring internet traffic and also monitors application behavior in an attempt to stop malicious software covertly infecting Windows systems. Agnitum calls this technology "Component Control" and "Anti-Leak Control" (included into HIPS-based "Host Protection" module). The product also includes a spyware scanner and monitor, together with pop-up blocker/spyware filter for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox (Outpost's web surfing security tools include black-lists for IPs and URLs, unwanted web page element filters and ad-blocking. The technology altogether is known as "Web control").

Version 7.5 and newer add new techniques to help PC users block unknown/new threats before their activation:

  • Removable media protection (so-called "USB Virus Protection", part of the Proactive Protection module) — non-signature auto-run vulnerability with 5-level blocking of USB/CD/DVD storages auto-run files launch.
  • SmartDecision technology (so-called "Personal Virus Adviser", basis of the Proactive Protection module) — non-signature detection technology to facilitate decision-making process while security issues. 5-level ranging for starting processes/executing files is applied.

Version 8 introduces further improvements as well as full windows 8 compatibility and a redesigned user interface;v.8 also has extended x64 HIPS support.

Product's Use Cases[edit]

Outpost Firewall Pro allows the user to specifically define how a PC application connects to the Internet. This is known as the "Rules Wizard" mode, or policy, and is the default behavior for the program. When in this mode, Outpost Firewall Pro displays a prompt each time a new process attempts network access or when a process requests a connection that is not covered by its pre-validated rules. The idea being that this then lets the user decide whether an application should be allowed a network connection to a specific address, port or protocol.

In practice, prompting users can make the product seem over complicated to less experienced users. Agnitum engineers includes pre-set rules for many popular applications. Users can optionally submit rules they have created through the Agnitum ImproveNet[3] system for validation and sharing new rules by Agnitum engineers via product updates.

First versions for Outpost Firewall Pro (1.0...4.0) were also designed to allow users to create their own plugins and add other third-party plugins[4] to meet specific needs and/or functionality.[5] Current versions do not have the plugin programming interface as the current Microsoft OS security kernels do not allow the techniques that were used previously. the more popular plugin to block all access for certain IP addresses from a user maintained list has been hard programmed into the firewall and suite versions.

Online Assistance[edit]

Outpost Firewall Pro users developed an unofficial web forum fed by Agnitum[6] since 2002 to discuss product features and support. The forum is moderated by experienced senior users of Outpost Firewall Pro and offers help and support for technical advice and program assistance.

Achievements[edit]

Outpost Firewall Pro's self-protection technology aims at detecting attempts to modify/disable its services or hinder program protection and is accoladed by Comparison Testers as being capable and sophisticated at detecting all known methods of disabling it without user permission. The testing site Matousec.com[7] (performing a test-set of leak-tests to all known software including PC firewalls), consistently gives Outpost Firewall Pro its highest ratings in PC firewalls independent comparisons. Outpost Firewall Pro has more than 30 awards in 15 countries in computer media and test labs since 2002.[8]

The product was also licensed[9] by several security software publishers in 2003-2010: Sophos (UK, USA), Lavasoft (Sweden), Canon (Japan), Bullguard (UK), CAT-QuickHeal (India), Novell (USA), AVG (Czech Republic), Avast (Czech Republic), Proland Software (India), and others.

Versions[edit]

  • Outpost Firewall Pro: A shareware personal firewall with inbound-outbound PC program actions control and port stealthing plus anti-spyware and web surfing security plus HIPS engine.
  • Outpost Firewall Free: A freeware version which includes a web and local PC firewall (networking) with inbound-outbound program actions control and port stealthing plus HIPS engine.
  • Outpost Security Suite Pro: includes all the Internet Security Suite features (personal firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam, web surfing security tools and host intrusion prevention system HIPS). anti-spam has been dropped from version 8 onwards as it duplicates functions built into the most popular web and pc mail clients and is thus redundant.
  • Outpost Security Suite Free: Outpost Security Suite Free: free but limited edition for Internet Security Suite features (PC firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and host intrusion prevention system HIPS).

Criticism[edit]

Outpost Firewall has been criticized by some end users for being confusing or difficult to use, possibly because of its features targeted on advanced PC users. Outpost can generate a large number of security alerts, which some experts believe will lead to an inexperienced end user habitually dismissing all alerts, even important ones. This firewall is preferred by experienced users as Agnitum's direction is to give the end user complete control to all aspects of their system to avoid unwanted changes by malicious software, disclosure of personal information and malware. In advanced security mode, Outpost's Component Control will notify the user every time a network enabled application has a changed component and Anti-Leak Control will notify the user whenever an application performs a potentially dangerous operation such as overwriting another application's memory space. In practice this can result in such a high number of alerts that they can quickly become intrusive. To mediate this, Outpost includes the option to apply validated pre-sets automatically, to allow for a secure configuration, and yet provide ease of use.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Agnitum’s Outpost 9.1 security software enables users to formulate their own definition of malware". Agnitum. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  2. ^ http://free.agnitum.com/
  3. ^ ImproveNet's description can be found at
  4. ^ http://www.outpostfirewall.com/guide/the_outpost_gui/plugins/index.htm
  5. ^ http://www.agnitum.com/products/outpost/developers.php
  6. ^ unofficial Outpost users forum - see
  7. ^ Matousec Transparent Security - PC security suites testing
  8. ^ "Outpost Awards". Agnitum Ltd. 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  9. ^ "Agnitum Strategic Partners". Agnitum Ltd. 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]