A Win/Win Solution

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-04-22 Print this article Print

Protect your small home or business network with the affordable WinProxy 5 Secure Suite.

Theres no product as complete—and certainly none as inexpensive—to protect a small business network as WinProxy 5 Secure Suite. Still, WinProxy has always had some notable weaknesses; Version 5 makes some improvements in those areas but doesnt fill in all the gaps.

In addition to being a proxy server that lets you share an Internet connection, WinProxy is also a firewall and an antivirus gateway. New in this version is an e-mail content-filtering feature that the company promotes as a spam solution, but its not a practical one since there are no predefined rules.

More significant is the addition of a Web-based administration interface, so you can manage the server from any internal system by browsing the IP address Not all management features are available from this interface, however. For instance, you cant map an IP port; for this you must use the Windows interface on the proxy server.

Perhaps WinProxys best feature is its gateway-level antivirus protection, which includes e-mail, FTP, HTTP, POP3, SMTP, and SOCKS. A subscription to antivirus definitions from Panda Software generally costs about $10 per user per year, and it updates automatically. This alone may make WinProxy worth the price: Gateway-level antivirus protection is a leap forward relative to what most users have.

The administration program on the proxy server retains some strange behavior from earlier versions. If you run WinProxy as a Windows service (as would be the normal way), you must stop the service first in order to run the administration program the first time after booting, and then restart it. And if you need to connect to your WinProxy-protected network via a VPN, you cant. WinProxy does not support VPN servers on the internal network.

Version 5 is a solid, if somewhat inconsistent improvement. The market generally pushes hardware appliances in this space (and Ositis sells these, too), but the power, flexibility, and price of this software solution lets us forgive its faults.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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