Sphinx Vista Firewall Control

Discussion in 'other firewalls' started by Red Dawn, Sep 7, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Red Dawn

    Red Dawn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2004
    Posts:
    116
    Since we have many on the site that are experts on firewalls and the such, I was hoping to get some discussion/reviews/thoughts on this add-on for Vista's built in firewall. I have played with it for roughly 3 weeks, and I must say I'm impressed with it, though it has some drawbacks, what software doesn't, users should give it a try IMHO.

    1 of the reasons I have been using/testing different firewall software, with the hopes of better security already considered and wanted, is ease of use, speed, resources, and compatibility. As we know from many people here and elsewhere, different software can bring different issues to our computing environments. So when I heard about this application that works with Vista's firewall, it made me wonder how good it would be, without learning Vista's Firewall Rule management setup for the average user. Vista's built in firewall has NO outbound rules setup on install, you must setup everything on your own, and for some, it can be tricky. This software basically works as a buffer, so to speak, showing you pop-up's, that can in fact be disabled, of what is connecting, and how to deal with it. Any application that starts and tries to connect to the internet, will display a pop-up with options of what to do. You can create rules for it, allow, disable, create zone rules, such as communication within your LAN ONLY, etc. By default, at least on my install, all NEW applications that tried to connect, were disabled with a popup asking me what to do, if I know the app is safe, I would choose enable and all is good. Another great part of the pop-up, was it told me path information, name, vendor, etc of what was trying to connect. So for those that don't know what's what, a simple google search would display info on the app, allowing you to determine if to allow it access or not. (Note: google search is not a feature, something one can do on their own) You also have an option of allowing/blocking the app for that initial launch only, then later either making the rule on your own, or get prompted again with what to do.

    The options for what one can do are simple, that I'm sure even a beginner wouldn't have much of an issue. In the program itself, you have various Zones set with their own set rules, that I assume one could use depending on their setup, apps, and connection rights they wanted. I found it more simple to set my own rules, but the application does allow for growth. There is no need to go into Vista's firewall gui, snap-in if you will, as the app takes care of rules creation on it's own. On first bootup after I installed the application, it brought up a few popup's of applications wanting rights to internet access, but after the initial setup for those rules, all else was a breeze.

    I do find some drawbacks though that may push people elsewhere. First, the application originally installed with some type of theme, that u can disable, but it looks bad (Note: I was told that the latest version 1.1, installs with no theme by default, but older versions do install with this theme, though again, you can disable it via the settings option in the program). Once disabled, it's basic looking. Nothing fancy, no cool graphics or the such. Help file doesn't do much either, and there is nothing within the program that allow the logging of packets, system changes, explained rules, etc. Vista can log information, but I did notice logging being an issue, as some of the information was never seen on the logs. Is that Vista or the app, who knows.. Memory consumption wasn't too bad, about 10mb for the app/tray, highest I saw was 12, but it could go higher or lower depending on the setup I assume, though I'm not totally sure about that. It did crash on me once in the weeks I've used it, and during that crash, I had no net access, even when I re-launched the program, I eventually had to reboot my machine. Might be a bug, but to be clear and as noted to me, this was before I updated to the latest version of the software (v1.1), as since, I've had no crash of the program, nor issues to refer about. I did several leak tests, and came away with passing colors. Now I will admit there are many, MANY tests out there one can do, and I did not try everything, but the few I did (6 to be exact), all passed.

    The icons and such for the program are ugly, to say the least, but I wasn't after beauty, just really out to see if it worked or not, and I am quite happy with what it's done. I would suggest anyone working on vista, looking for a firewall, to try it out, as the latest version is quite stable and does the job it aims to do. I have no idea about support or the like, never heard of Sphinx before this, but the free version works well, as does the plus version. Plus version has more options, and a nag pop-up, though it doesn't stop the program from working, just pop's up telling you to register/activate on the bottom corner of the screen, that's it. I hope other's try it and post what they find with the product, and that some firewall experts here lend their thoughts on it as well. As of now I'll stick with this on my machine, but certainly would love to hear from others, as to what they think, good or bad.

    For those interested in trying it out for yourself, here is the link: http://sphinx-soft.com/Vista
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2007
  2. sukarof

    sukarof Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Posts:
    1,714
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    Thanks for the review. Even though I am quite happy with LnS I will give it a try, if something new makes life easier I´m up for it :)
     
  3. Diver

    Diver Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Posts:
    1,444
    Location:
    Deep Underwater
    Which version of the Sphinx utility are using, free or plus?

    I ran the free version for a couple of hours, but id did not seem to do anything. Perhaps I was able to set up the necessary rules without pop ups.

    The tricky ones:
    windows update, custom rule, svchost.exe limited to this service, TCP ports 80 and 443.
    Windows time, as above except UDP 123.

    HelpPane.exe, allow outbound access all ports.

    Antivirus programs are all different. If your AV sets up inbound rules, those same executables need outbound rules.

    Most of the rest of what you will have to let out will be obvious.
     
  4. sukarof

    sukarof Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Posts:
    1,714
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    I´ve been using the plus version for a couple of days. First it was a bit tricky to understand the zone concept.
    But I can see the beauty of it after a while, pre configured rules depending on what sort of software tries to connect (browser, mail, ftp, DNS, DHCP and so on.) Unfortunately the evaluation time is ridiculously short; 3 days and then the settings are locked and required activation. Didnt have time to test it against leaktests so I have no clue if it is secure or not, atleast I managed to make it stealth on GRC after some tweaking.

    Well, it was nice while it lasted, test is over, no use of waisting more time on this. Back to Look´n´stop.
     
  5. Diver

    Diver Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Posts:
    1,444
    Location:
    Deep Underwater
    Three days, ouch!
     
  6. Red Dawn

    Red Dawn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2004
    Posts:
    116
    I tried both, but right now the plus version, but I didn't get a 3 day period, in fact I've been using it for well over 3 weeks and it still works, with the little popup about activation, but nothing too bad. After the inital install, I got the few popups about app's, set rules, then on reboot, got quite a few popups about all the apps trying to make connections, setup the zone rules for them, and bam, that was it, still works, no issues...
     
  7. LowRider

    LowRider Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2007
    Posts:
    5
    Location:
    Between the lines
    Hi folks. First post here. I saw this thread and wanted to add my thoughts. I used it for some time and decided to purchase the upgrade. It was a good decision for me. I went to Shields Up! and ran it thru some test. It passed everything I tested with flying colors. File sharing and bios were protected from the probes. Also, ALL ports were stealthed. It just did excellent.

    As the first poster wrote, the interface is nothing fancy. It's all pretty simple and straight forward. You can try the free version and see how you like it. Plus you won't need to be a computer pro to understand it. This program will not overwhelm you like some firewalls I tried. It doesn't bug you constantly like some that are in learning mode. Just set your level or options as needed when it prompts you to. Really, I love it so far. And 29.95 for the paid version is not too shabby.
     
  8. wprta

    wprta Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Posts:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    I was using VFC free version and noticed that AMON is constantly scanning file WFPDIAG.ETL. I uninstalled the VFC and Amon is behaving normal. Has anyone noticed this on the plus version? Thanks
     
  9. Kees1958

    Kees1958 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Posts:
    5,857
    Hi,

    I also had this nifty free utility in my setup. I noticed a slowdown using wireless. That is why I stopped using the free version.
     
  10. Espresso

    Espresso Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Posts:
    975
    It's some kind of trace file for the windows firewall. Set an exception in AMON and it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  11. Espresso

    Espresso Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Posts:
    975
    I just downloaded this app again to try on 2008 Server. The name is a bit of a misnomer as it doesn't have anything to do with the Windows firewall. I was under the impression it would actually set outgoing rules in the Windows firewall but no such luck.

    That would be the Windows firewall that was being tested, as Sphinx has no inbound protection.
     
  12. Diver

    Diver Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Posts:
    1,444
    Location:
    Deep Underwater
    My experience with the free version is that it is so limited in function as to be useless.
     
  13. bigc73542

    bigc73542 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Posts:
    23,873
    Location:
    SW. Oklahoma
    I have used the free version for quite a while and it is not a FW it is just a gui with access controls for the windows firewall. For what it is, it works very well. If you are a firewall freak you surely won't like it simply because it is so easy to use. It does exactly what it says it will do. it gives the user the option to allow apps or programs access to the Internet or the ability to block them with one mouse click. How much easier could it be, and free is not bad either. :thumb: :D
     
  14. Espresso

    Espresso Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Posts:
    975
    It has nothing to do with the Windows firewall - it is merely a complement. The rules created by Sphinx do not show up in the list of rules in Windows FW.
     
  15. bigc73542

    bigc73542 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Posts:
    23,873
    Location:
    SW. Oklahoma

    Irregardless it still works.
     
  16. truthseeker

    truthseeker Former Poster

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Posts:
    977
    How come this firewall fails the PC Flank Leak Test?
     
  17. tlu

    tlu Guest

    Vista Firewall Control adds outbound control to the Vista firewall - that doesn't mean that all leaktests are passed (as HIPS functionalities are needed for that). There are definitely better 3rd party firewalls in this regard like Comodo Personal Firewall which works in Vista. Another question is if you really need that. Leaktests are overrated - there are several lenghty threads here about this topic.
     
  18. acr1965

    acr1965 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Posts:
    4,954
    FWIW- you can get the Plus version for free by posting about the VFC on a blog or web site, there may be other ways as well. I received my license key for the Plus version within 24 hours of making a post on another blog and notifying Spinx.

    Info is at the bottom of the "download & buy" page.
     
  19. truthseeker

    truthseeker Former Poster

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Posts:
    977
    What exactly is HIPS functionalities?

    And I removed Vista Firewall Control and now I use COMDODO which passed the PC Flank leak test. As to whether I need leak protection, well I am not 100% certain as I am not a qualified security specialist. So I concluded when in doubt, may as well use COMODO that seems to protect me a lot better than Vista Firewall Control. Put it this way.. It won't hurt me using COMODO, but it may hurt me using Vista Firewall Control if one day a leak issue would be a problem for me.
     
  20. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    4,047
    Location:
    France, May 1968
    Think again ;) A HIPS deeply embedded in the OS might cause serious problems.
     
  21. acr1965

    acr1965 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Posts:
    4,954
    Has anyone tested the PC Tools 3 firewall with PCflank?
     
  22. truthseeker

    truthseeker Former Poster

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Posts:
    977
    So now we know of a potential problem. So what is the solution? :)
     
  23. wings

    wings Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Posts:
    53
    I don't see what's so good about this one. I can simply update my viruscanner without the firewall popping up any message....not good!
     
  24. jdd58

    jdd58 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Posts:
    527
    Location:
    USA
    It does not block Avira Classic's avnotify.exe either, even when a rule is set to block.
     
  25. zorbis

    zorbis Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    Posts:
    27
    "leak test" means that your pc is already infected with malware trying to call home and to be honest, if you have a good antivirus/antispyware protection and you know what websites you visit or download from, they are overrated (this is my opinion of course).

    the question i would like to ask about the vista firewall control is: can it be used alongside windows vista firewall or do i need to turn it off? thanks.
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.