NetBarrier X3
Review

On October 14, 2004, in Macintosh, Review, by Russ Walkowich

NetBarrier X3 v.10.3.4
Company: Intego
Price: $59.95 US
http://www.intego.com/home.asp

In June of this year, cable access finally reached my area. Not that it hadn’t been available before, just that all the constant problems, outages and the upgrade to fiber had finally been taken care of. With the process completed, and after checking around with others in the area, the determination was finally made to switch from a 56k modem to cable broadband.

But during the time period leading up to the switch, I’d been doing my homework. I really wasn’t worried about someone hacking into my system with the 56k modem, I didn’t think that anyone would want to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to hack through on such a slow system of access. Switching to broadband, now that’s another story. I’d read up on system security, firewalls and routers and wanted to be prepared, plus I talked with some IT people I knew about the perils/pitfalls of cable access.

The first thing off the bat was that I needed a firewall to place between my computer and anyone who was trying to gain access to it. Yes, I know OS X comes with one, but honestly you need a better user interface to work with it. (Yes, you can get BrickHouse , SunShield or FireWalk to provide you a more thorough interface with OS X’s firewall) I decided to see what was available commercially. Intego offers NetBarrier X3 so I decided to check it out for myself.

First off, installation was easy, no problems encountered. The Setup Assistant walks you through the process. I would highly recommend that any user read the manual beforehand so you know what the particular items are that you are setting up. (and of course, always repair permissions after installing any software) X3 provides the user with Personal Firewall that scans all incoming and outgoing traffic, permitting or stopping data from exiting or entering your system through access ports. If you are a home user, you can set it up for client only, or network or server usage. You can even totally deny any access to the Internet or to a local network if you so wish, or set your own custom rules. You can also set it to protect against Trojans although I’ve not seen much mention of Mac users suffering through Trojan problems lately.

X3 also provides a log that maintains a record of all activity where NetBarrier X3 has acted. It lists each time that there has been an incident, the address of the intruder, and the kind of incident recorded. I was amazed at the amount of activity when I set everything up and connected directly to the cable modem. Time after time, there were attempts to access the computer even while I sat there and did nothing to invite this activity. I’m not talking every now and then, but minute after minute after minute of attempts to enter.

The second line of defense from X3 is Antivandal which monitors for any signs of intrusion. Only when it detects such activity will you know that it’s even there as it will display an alert. It can be set up to prevent 9 attempts to access your computer, even denying Apple Remote Desktop control. The Stop List capability of X3 can be set that once an intrusion or attack has been attempted, the originating computer cannot send any data to your computer and your computer can’t connect to it.

The third line of defense is the Privacy Filter capability of X3. The Data Filter checks to make sure that any sensitive information you want to protect can’t leave your computer and go onto a network. Passwords, credit card numbers, or key words that appear in your documents can be prevented from leaving your computer. You can also filter out ad banner graphics; view, edit and delete each cookie on your computer or delete all the cookie files; even clean out browser cache and history files.

The fourth line is the Monitoring capability of X3 providing the user with an overview of activity on your network, with up to 12 gauges providing info on input/output of the web, news, mail, ftp, IP and other activity. In the All tab as shown below, a simple click on the down arrow permits the user to select the particular data type that he/she wishes to monitor.

Overall, NetBarrier X3 was easy to set up and easy to use once you get familiar with the interface and what you’re looking to avoid happening to your computer.

For those of you wondering, yes, I added a router to the mix. Speaking with some folks who are deep into security on the web, having the hardware plus software firewall capability gives you a far better chance of surviving an assault on your computer then just having one in place.

Good Points- Ease of set up and use, manual covers the gamut of items that NetBarrier X3 protects you from and gives you the information you need to make choices. Capability to monitor everything that is going on with NetBarrier and your computer. X3 does exactly what it is supposed to do, prevent unauthorized penetration of your computer system.

Cons- Bit on the pricey side for those use to shareware or free products. Upgrade from version 2.x is $49, upgrade from version X3 10.x to v10.3.4 is $39. Do Mac users need Trojan protection or cookie management?

System Requirements:
Mac OS X- 10.1.1 or later, Jaguar, Panther; 25 MB free disk space, Screen resolution 800 x 600 or higher.
For Mac OS 8.1 to 9.x- use NetBarrier 2.2 that requires PowerPC, Open Transport, 16 MB memory, 5 MB free disk space, Internet Config and Screen resolution 800 x 600 or higher

Recommendation: Download the 30-day demo of NetBarrier X3 and give it a try.

My Mac Rating: 4 out of 5

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