While waiting for the new version of AntiHacker, I have trialed a number of firewalls over the last month or so. As a supporter of all 'underdogs' I tested a number of less well-known programs and here are some observations which may be of use. Testing was carried out on a relatively low-spec Pentium III 800mHz, 256 mB Ram with Win 2000, SP3 and IE6. 1. Steganos On Line Shield v. 1.52 Easy to install. Application filtering mainly. Took between 5-9mB memory, but noticed no system slowdown. 'Star Wars interface'. Passed all inbound tests, except stealth-tests over at PCFlank, where it failed 2 of them. Only passed 'LeakTest' outbound. No forum, but support answered e-mail within 24 hours. Cost $25. 2. Deerfield Personal Firewall/Private Firewall v.3 During the testing of this product, Deerfield passed over their firewall to Privacyware completely. Privacyware had marketed the Deerfield product before under a different name, which differed only in the system icon. Icon flashes when 'under attack'. Easy to install, nice, clear user interface. Has 3 pre-defined profiles to choose - Home, Office and On the Road. Also has a System Status Report which checks constantly in the background for 'security problems'. Mainly application filtering but can add and customize rules. Passed all inbound tests, except again for stealth tests over at PCFlank. Only passed LeakTest outbound and was low on system resources, 3-4mB memory. Contacted support at Deerfield which was excellent (see later) but Privacyware stated 'they knew nothing about the testing procedure over at PCFlank'. $30 to buy. 3. Visnetic Firewall v. 1.21 Clear interface, rules-based firewall with set-up wizard. Passed all inbound tests but failed all outbound ones. No resource hog as only took between 2-4 mB memory. It is more of a consideration for servers/networks, but support recommended this over their Personal Firewall for standalone workstations. Excellent support both by e-mail and in their forum over at the Deerfield site. However, very expensive at $70. 4. TGB::BOB v.2.31 Easy to install and an excellent uninstaller. Minimalistic in the extreme- French style!!! One for the newbie as comes with pre-defined settings with no choice to add or change any rules. Password setting and very clear interface. Simply select box for 'hiding computer on the Internet' and you pass all inbound tests. Only passed LeakTest of the outbound ones. Took 6-7mB memory, but no effect on system. Can check for updates and excellent help-file, although some windows still have instructions in French. Traffic-light system icon, which changes colour from green to red when 'under attack'. Main site is still under construction but support replied within 48 hours. Cost is $43. 5. F-Secure distributed Firewall v.5.5 Install not clear, as choices were not explained. Seven running processes installed ranging between 300kb and 4mB of memory for a total of 7mB but no slowdown noticed!! Has 4 pre-defined security levels and passes all inbound tests whether at normal or strict setting. Application and rules-based. Places 2 icons in system tray, one of which is F-Secure Management agent which is mainly for network control. However, this management agent must be installed and you have no choice to uninstall this separately from the main program. Main icon is a red brickwall and when alerts are indicated, a flashing axe appears over the wall. Passed all in bound tests but again only Leaktest of outbound ones. Help File is a separate download but it is very clear. Cost of this firewall is $48. Overall Conclusions Like most software, choice comes down to 'eye-candy', its effectiveness in doing a job and how it fits with the rest of your system. For newbies, TGB::BOB cannot be beat. A real no-brainer!! Of the others, F-Secure and Deerfield Personal Firewall/Private Firewall impressed. However, more general points include; 1. These commercial firewalls have a job on their hands competing with the free software such as Kerio and ZAP. 2. Most firewalls are not very good in stopping outbound connections as revealed by Firehole, Tooleaky, Yalta and the LeakTest (however, the significance of these tests has been queried). 3. A number of Firewall vendors are charging for annual updates rather than a one-off fee and therefore copying AV vendors. Overall, I am sticking with LookNStop on my main box. For the second computer, I am undecided. But both will run with System Safety Monitor.