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ICSA Certification

The International Computer Security Association (ICSA) Labs test and certify many products used to protect computers; products such as antivirus software, firewalls, cryptography products, and intrusion detection systems, to name just a few. They even have a category specifically for PC firewalls.

What advantage is there to you to choose an ICSA-certified product? Well, you will know that ICSA products have all been compared to common testing criteria and passed. Whether or not these criteria are of importance to you is another matter. For the PC Firewall certification, there is heavy emphasis on Microsoft networking compatibility—not particularly important for anyone in a Linux or Mac shop.

There are seven main areas of functionality evaluated by the ICSA Labs tests. The software must:

  • be easy for a nonexpert to install,

  • provide protection while supporting Microsoft networking,

  • support simultaneous dial-up and LAN connections,

  • maintain consistent protection across successive dial-up connections,

  • block common attacks,

  • restrict outgoing communication, and

  • provide useful and consistent logs.

As of July 1, 2002, only three products have been certified by ICSA Labs: Network Associates, Inc.'s McAfee Desktop Firewall, Sygate Technologies, Inc.'s Sygate Personal Firewall Pro, and Symantec Corporation's Norton Personal Firewall 2002. Details of the certification criteria can be found at the ICSA Labs Web site, http://www.icsalabs.com.

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