With the Yoggie Firestick Pico, Yoggie has shoe-horned a Linux-based firewall in to a USB device not much bigger than a memory stick.

One of the best things you can do with an old PC is turn it into a high performance firewall by putting Linux on it and then running Smoothwall Express or IPCop.

Yoggie has run with this concept but instead of using a clunker PC, it's shoe-horned a Linux-based firewall in to a USB device not much bigger than a memory stick.

Priced at £60 inc VAT, the Yoggie Firestick Pico is a full-featured firewall, with features such as stateful inspection packet filtering, DoS/DDoS attack detection and prevention, Syn Flood attack detection and prevention and Port Scan and ICMP attack detection and prevention.

The Yoggie Firestick Pico isn't for everyone but it aimed at mobile business workers who regularly connect to wireless hotspots and other public networks.

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To sweeten the pill somewhat, Yoggie bundles Kaspersky's respected antivirus suite with the Firestick Pico at no extra cost.

Yoggie, you may recall, produced an all-purpose USB security device, Gatekeeper Pico, earlier last year. The Yoggie Firestick Pico is a cut-down version, dropping all the security features bar the firewall. Both Picos are based on CPU's often used in Smartphones, the Intel Xscale, though the Firestick uses the 300MHz rather than the 520MHz version.

The Yoggie Firestick Pico works in conjunction with low-level Windows drivers that sit below the TCP/IP stack, diverting network traffic from all interfaces and routing it to USB and thence to the Firestick, where it can be scrutinised and passed on if all is well.

The Yoggie Firestick Pico itself is pretty immune to attack – the OS is stored in immutable ROM and copied over to flash memory at boot time.

The Yoggie Firestick Pico is configured via a simple web-based management console. This also provides status information, security logs and reports. While you determine security policies, security updates are automatically downloaded from Yoggie.

Curiously, although you ought to disable any existing software firewall to prevent conflicts, the Yoggie Firestick Pico's installer doesn't warn you about this or attempt to detect any conflicts.

NEXT PAGE: the down sides, and our expert verdict > >

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With the Yoggie Firestick Pico, Yoggie has shoe-horned a Linux-based firewall in to a USB device not much bigger than a memory stick.

We found a few down sides. Firstly, small though it is, the Yoggie Firestick Pico is still too big and will foul adjacent nearby USB ports when it's plugged in. Losing it could inconvenience you, too.

More seriously, while we had no trouble with the Yoggie Firestick Pico on a Vista desktop, it low-level drivers royally screwed up an XP Thinkpad, such that it wouldn't install/uninstall, it caused both network adaptors to disappear and for some reason, System Restore was prevented from transporting us back to happier times. A reformat now beckons...

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Yoggie Firestick Pico: Specs

  • 18g
  • 12x16x23mm
  • Intel XScale PXA270, 321MHz
  • 32MB NAND flash
  • 4MB NOR flash
  • Linux IPTables
  • Kaspersky Antivirus
  • requires USB, Windows XP/Vista
  • 18g
  • 12x16x23mm
  • Intel XScale PXA270, 321MHz
  • 32MB NAND flash
  • 4MB NOR flash
  • Linux IPTables
  • Kaspersky Antivirus
  • requires USB, Windows XP/Vista

OUR VERDICT

The Yoggie Firestick Pico is an innovative and effective hardware firewall but the wide range of free, good quality, software firewalls make it a less than compelling purchase.

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