Agnitum Outpost Pro 2.5 review

20 Jan 2005

Improved control, flexibility and attack detection make Outpost Pro 2.5 the only serious software firewall choice for the home and small-business user.

Price when reviewed: 
34(£40 inc VAT)more
5

At PC Pro, we've long-been fans of Agnitum's firewall. Not only does it have a small system footprint (under 10MB), but it also outperforms the biggest competitors when it comes to sheer system security. This new version adds a much-improved Attack Detection plug-in, which now features selective port-blocking settings, as well as allowing you to create your own ports and protocols filtering list. Controlling network activity on the protocol level is great for the experienced user, selecting what each port will accept and what it will block. However, that's not what most 'normal' users want. So we were relieved to see that the preset port and security configurations work straight out of the box.

The only additional work required is to create lists, on the fly, of trusted remote hosts. By having a trusted list of hosts that are known to be non-malicious, Outpost can process traffic faster. There are also better guards against hidden processes and protection against your process memory being hijacked by malware. The hidden process control will monitor all application network activity, on all levels. Our testing showed this to be very effective in blocking trojans, spyware and malware activity. Outpost won't even allow a 'trusted' application to launch a dangerous program that pretends to be useful; the process control spots this behaviour and stops it dead.

Since our review of version 2.1, there had been several forums reporting blue screen of death crashes when used on some systems running Pentium 4s with Hyper-Threading enabled. It isn't something we've encountered when testing here though, and Agnitum also seems to have tracked down the issue, as the reports have now gone quiet. One thing we've noticed, however, is an increase in the amount of system resources eaten up by Outpost when compared to earlier versions. But it isn't huge at about 10 per cent more, and thanks to this being a resource-friendly firewall in the first place, only users upgrading from an existing Outpost install are likely to notice.

Despite an improved content-filtering plug-in, which adds custom message displays for blocked sites, Outpost can't compete with full security suites in terms of value. However, what you do get is the best-of-breed personal firewall software, bar none. If the question is how can you best secure your data, your system resources and your identity without resorting to expensive and relatively complicated hardware solutions, the answer is simple: Outpost 2.5.