WinGate

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WinGate 8
Developer(s) Qbik New Zealand Limited
Initial release 5 October 1995 (1995-10-05)
Stable release 8.2.5[1] / 5 September 2014; 3 months ago (2014-09-05)[1]
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Platform x86, x64
Available in English, Japanese, Russian
Type Proxy server
Router
Firewall
Antivirus
VPN Server
Web cache
Mail Server
License Proprietary commercial software Free for 3 users
Website http://www.wingate.com/

WinGate is integrated multi-protocol proxy server, email server and internet gateway from Qbik New Zealand Limited in Auckland. It was first released in October 1995, and began as a re-write of SocketSet, a product that had been previously released in prototype form by Adrien de Croy.

WinGate proved popular, and by the mid to late 1990s, WinGate was used in homes and small businesses that needed to share a single Internet connection between multiple networked computers. The introduction of Internet Connection Sharing in Windows 98, combined with increasing availability of cheap NAT-enabled routers, forced WinGate to evolve to provide more than just internet connection sharing features. Today, focus for WinGate is primarily access control, email server, caching, reporting, bandwidth management and content filtering.

WinGate comes in three versions, Standard, Professional and Enterprise. The Enterprise edition also provides an easily configured virtual private network system, which is also available separately as WinGate VPN. Licensing is based on the number of concurrently connected users, and a range of license sizes are available. Multiple licenses can also be aggregated.

The current version of WinGate is version 8.2.5 released in September 2014.[1]

Free version[edit]

From WinGate 1.0 through to WinGate 4.5.3, WinGate could be used without payment in a 1 + 1 configuration (1 on the proxy computer, one on the LAN). This free version was discontinued with WinGate 5.0.

A free license was re-introduced with the release of WinGate 7.2, and enables 3 LAN users free access, with the features associated with a WinGate Standard level license. Users choose a free license option when activating the product.

Platforms[edit]

From version 6.5 onwards, WinGate runs on Microsoft Windows from Windows 2000 to Windows 7 / 2008 R2, both 32 and 64 bit. Prior versions are still available for earlier OSes back to Microsoft Windows 95.

Features[edit]

At its core, WinGate provides 3 levels of Internet Access: a stateful packet-level firewall with NAT, several circuit-level proxies (SOCKS 4/4a/5, and proprietary Winsock redirector), and multiple application-level proxy servers. This provides a comprehensive access framework, and allows the maximum level of access control.

WinGate's policy framework allows the creation of specific access rules, based on user account details, request details, location of user, authentication and time of day. Security is based on user authentication. WinGate allows use of either WinGate's built-in user database, the Windows user database, or the user database of an NT domain or Active Directory. Authentication can use integrated windows usernames and passwords (NTLM) and other authentication schemes. WinGate can also be used without authentication, or can assume user identity based on IP address or computer name.

WinGate can also authenticate individual users on a terminal server, and maintain separate user contexts to provide user-level control, and for applications that do not support authentication by using the WinGate Client software.

WinGate provides a fully customizable, self-configuring DHCP server to assist with network configuration. It also supports multi-interface and multiple topology deployment including multiple DMZs.

WinGate provides an integrated Email server (POP3 server and retrieval client, SMTP server, and IMAP4 server) with message routing features and per-email restrictions. This can be used to provide company email services, or to provide protection and additional security (encryption and authentication) for an existing email system.

The WWW Proxy provides a transparent proxy for ease of administration, plus a shared proxy cache for improved surfing performance. It can also be used to secure access to internal web servers (Reverse proxy).

Proxy services in WinGate support SSL/TLS connections, dynamic network binding (automatic response to network events such as addition or removal of network interfaces), and gateway pre-selection (to direct service for a particular application out a specific Internet connection).

Packet-level bandwidth management is also provided to allow control of bandwidth associated with certain users or applications, and is able to be configured on a per-time-of-day basis.

Also available for WinGate are optional components that provide Antivirus scanning for email, web and FTP, and content filtering for web traffic.

Other features[edit]

WinGate 7 included a number of other features. Since it is based on a generic event processing system, with pluggable event sources, and event processors, it is capable of many other applications. Also the notification system in WinGate 7 allows for definition of notification escalation plans and responses to detected events.

This opened WinGate up to being a generic monitoring and alerting system, able to monitor system metrics, check thresholds and issue notifications.

The events relating to email also permit WinGate 7 to be used as a general purpose mail processor.

Early history[edit]

The company Qbik was formed in December 1995 to monetize the first for-payment version of the software which was version 1.2 (prior versions had been free). WinGate was a text-book example of near exponential growth in product popularity due to the enormous growth in Internet usage that was occurring world-wide in the mid-1990s. A feature of this was month-on-month compound growth in excess of 20% for a sustained period (several years). As demand and workload grew so quickly, Adrien de Croy turned initially to several friends to provide additional capacity, including Tim Warren (a friend from the Auckland Youth Orchestra), and Lyle Bainbridge (who started working on WinGate code with version 1.3 in early 1996). Distribution also grew as demand for WinGate caused many software distributors and resellers to take up WinGate. In 1997, Deerfield Communications Inc was appointed sole distributor world-wide. This relationship ended in 2003, with Qbik resuming distribution and support. It is commonly thought that Deerfield owned WinGate, but this was never the case.

Other key points in early history were various OEM arrangements with companies like Compaq, 3Com, Diamond Multimedia, and the Sabre Network.

Notoriety[edit]

Versions of WinGate prior to 2.1d (1997) shipped with an insecure default configuration that - if not secured by the network administrator - allowed untrusted third parties to proxy network traffic through the WinGate server. This made open WinGate servers common targets of crackers looking for anonymous redirectors through which to attack other systems. While WinGate was by no means the only exploited proxy server, its wide popularity amongst users with little experience administering networks made it almost synonymous with open SOCKS proxies in the late 1990s.[2] Furthermore since a restricted (2 users) version of the product was freely available without registration, contacting all WinGate users to notify of security issues was impossible, and therefore even long after the security problems were resolved there were still many insecure installations in use.

Some versions of the Sobig worm installed a pirated copy of WinGate 5 in a deliberately insecure configuration to be used by spammers. These installations used non-standard ports for SOCKS and WinGate remote control and so in general did not interfere with other software running on the infected host computer. This resulted in some antivirus software incorrectly identifying WinGate as malware and removing it.

WinGate 7[edit]

Development of WinGate 7 ran from early 2006 until its release in November 2011. Initially labelled WinGate 2007, a technical preview was eventually made available in June 2007, slated for release in early 2008. At this time, a new policy system was introduced, based around a flow-chart decision tree which provided complete user-control over policy structure. Soon after, this the product was re-labelled WinGate 2008. The year 2008 came and went without a WinGate release, as did 2009. Qbik, however, was still in full development of WinGate 7 (as it is now called) and moved their own company gateway to the product in December 2009.

From March 2010 betas of WinGate 7 were made available to people registered in the WinGate 7 beta program.

In September 2010 Qbik officially launched a YouTube channel showing a number of videos showing WinGate 7 in operation. The following month, Qbik opened up its WinGate 7 Beta forum to the general public.

On 28 May 2011 WinGate 7 entered public beta. Then, on 15 November 2011, the first official public releas of WinGate 7.0 (build 3332) was released.

Version history[edit]

Date Version
2014 WinGate 8.2.5 (5 September)[1]
2013 WinGate 8.0.5 (5 December)
2013 WinGate 7.3 (7 March)
2012 WinGate 7.2 (3 May)
2012 WinGate 7.1 (28 February)
2011 WinGate 7.0 (15 November)
2009 WinGate 6.6 (Current is 6.6.4)
2008 WinGate 6.5
2007 WinGate 6.2
2005 WinGate 6.1
2004 WinGate 6.0
2003 WinGate 5.2.3 (last version in this family)
2002 WinGate 5.0
2001 WinGate 4.5 (last version in this family)
2000 WinGate 4.0
1998 WinGate 3.0
1996 WinGate 2.0
1995 WinGate 1.0 (5 October)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "WinGate 8 release notes". Retrieved 2014-10-28. 
  2. ^ "Exposing the Underground: Adventures of an Open Proxy Server". LURHQ. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 

External links[edit]