Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Online Armor's NEW release has a wicked new feature

Run Safer Goes GREEN!

Lets just talk about one of the new features of Online Armor (free and paid) - the green border around apps that are currently running in "Safer" mode.

Try this for a test:

1) Download a file from a browser you are running "Safer" and launch it from the browser. You will see, because the process was created by the browser (with lowered rights) that this program inherits the green bordering - a nice indication that the program is also running in "Safer" mode.

If you save the file from the browser, and then manually open it with a double click - it will run "Normal".

This may cause some new users to complain that when they download a desired file, it cannot install because of a permissions issue - BUT if this were a drive by, it would not be able to (for example) write to windows, the root of the drive, or program files directory.

This is a really cool feature (runsafer itself did not change, just the visualisation of it) - but the bordering/indication really makes it clear what's happening. I thought about not including the bordering in the free version - but it's just too cool not to make it available for everyone.

2) Set your Outlook/Outlook Express/EmailClientOfChoice to run-safer. Restart it so you see the border (indicating protection). Now, if you have an email with an attachment (PDF, whatever) - double click it from inside the mail client.

What you should see is that (in the pdf example) acrobat cranks up as you'd expect (or foxit ) - with your document - and again, with a nice green border around it.

Do the same with your IM clients - except for when you want to update them - and you have a nice, easy and visible layer of protection that really works across several key infection points. You can also run MS Word, MS Excel as safer as well with ease. (On my system I'm running Outlook, my chat clients and web browsers (FF and IE) in safer mode now)

With the addition of this visualisation - run safer is now firmly my favorite OA feature. You could experiment further with changing some other settings (for example: turn off prompts in webshield, turn off prompt on unknown and auto-allow trusted to connect to the net to off as well) and you'd probably get fairly few popups - with runsafer doing the heavy lifting in terms of protecting you against accidental clickage.

I thought I would take the time to highlight one of it's most overlooked features (and , IMHO one of the coolest)


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is the Shields Up Test?

Many firewall users put a good deal of emphasis on the Shields UP test over at grc.com. The purpose of this test is to check your firewall remotely to see what's open, or visible. Many modern firewalls, including Online Armor pass these tests - if the test is performed properly.

The problem is that nowadays many computers are behind modems, routers or even hardware firewalls making it very difficult, or impossible to test.

How does the test work?

Putting it simply, when you run the test the shields-up server will start to fire data at your computer. So, the data comes out of the ShieldsUP server, whizzes it's way over the internet, undersea cables, fiber, you name it. It gets to your ISP... whizzes through their systems, and out another pipe towards your home. Once it gets to your home, it squirts through your modem or router and into your PC. Once it's on your PC, it's up to the firewall to deal with it. If it sends back ANY response at all - it's a fail.

So why does my software firewall fail?

Before we start talking about software firewalls failing, how do you know the data is even reaching your software firewall? Remember above where we talked about the pathway that the packets take? There's the problem. If you have a router, or a modem - or your ISP does anything tricky - or, if you are plugged into someone's wirless network in a hotel, the packets may not actually reach your computer.

The animation below shows the ShieldsUP test in action. The first one shows a normal test, working the way the SheildsUP guys intended, reacting against a computer connected to the internet, but in all it's stealthy glory.

The second animation shows a firewall that sends something back. That's a straight fail in ShieldsUp talk.... bad firewall, go to the back of the class.

The LAST animation is the interesting one. Here, the data squirts to your PC, hits your modem which cries "I'm alive! I'm here" - this causes ShieldsUp to fail - but the data actually got nowhere near your computer at all. It's also more interesting if you have more than one computer behind your firewall/router - because you wont necessarily know which one, if any, answered it.

So - what to do in this case? You could always turn off your computer - if you still get a failure then it must be the modem. Unfortunately - if you turn off your computer, you can't request the test :(

If GRC changed the test so you could request the test, turn off your computer - then come back and collect the results 5 minutes later, then that would work for those on a fixed IP - or, if you're a tenacious sort then you can probably figure out how to configure your modem differently to not respond to those pings.

Online Armor does (when properly tested) pass these tests as do many other firewalls - but the test cannot be passed (or failed) by your firewall if the data does not reach your software firewall. Now the only remaining question is whether there is any benefit to the ShieldsUP test, other than as a quick "do I have any open ports".

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Online Armor Awarded Best Firewall Software of 2008

Online Armor has been further acclaimed as the "Best Firewall Software of 2008".

Scot Finnie in conjunction with over a 1000 of his readers have been reviewing and testing all the major players in the firewall category. This process started way back in the later part of 2006.

Tall Emu are very proud of this result as it is co-reviewed by end users, takes into account third-party testing and has been ongoing for more than a year. Plus the award is against both a firewalls security credentials and its usability.
Here is the final paragraph of the review taken directly from the formal review by Scot Finnie Newsletter.

“Online Armor (the paid version) is the best firewall I’ve ever tested, offering a blend of usability and hard-wired security that’s near-ideal for maximizing protection and ensuring a good user experience. A great firewall doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, a chore to use. Online Armor isn’t.

A year and a half after launching this quest, naming OA the Best Firewall Software of 2008 came naturally. The very best products have a way of standing out.”
About Scot Finnie
Scot Finnie has been a journalist and magazine editor for nearly 25 years. He has worked on staff at several computer magazines and online publications, including Computerworld, where he is Editor in Chief.
He has also served on the editorial staffs of ZDNet, PC/Computing, InformationWeek/Techweb, and Windows Magazine. He's written articles in the past for numerous other publications, including CFO, CNET, PC World, PC Magazine, MacWeek, Byte, Popular Science, and Popular Mechanics.
Scot’s Newsletter is Finnie's personal blog and newsletter. It covers operating systems (primarily Windows and Macintosh), security, the Internet, and technology at large.

Welcome to the Online Armor Blog

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Online Armor blog. This first post will be very short - what we plan to do here is use this blog as a place to discuss Online Armor - how to use it, computer security, and other things of interest.

We're still setting things up here - so bear with us while we move in.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Online Armor & Tall Emu in the Press

Anti-phishing app looks for users

By Sam Varghese 22nd October 2004

A Sydney firm has developed software which can help in stopping the rash of successes enjoyed by the senders of phishing emails - only this time, the software works at the user's end.



Kaspersky engine integrates with Tall Emu security solution.(Security News and Products)

Source: Software World, 01-SEP-06

Online Armor Antivirus+ is a data security solution produced by Tall Emu, an Australian security software company. The solution provides users with protection against spam, viruses, Trojans, worms and various blended Internet threats. Integration of the Kaspersky Anti-Virus engine into Online Armor will provide comprehensive protection against today's virus...


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Firewall Challenge - Online Armor Awarded the No. 1 spot

Sydney, Australia, 26th March 2008
Tall Emu, a leading personal firewall developer, is pleased to announce that the free version of Online Armor Personal Firewall has come out on top in the most recent Personal Firewall Analysis tests performed by Matousec Transparent Security on March 25th 2008. Online Armor beat 10 of the top personal firewalls and security suites, becoming the only product to receive the coveted 100% success rating in the leak tests.
What is a firewall leak test?
Leak tests are small, non-destructive programs designed by security experts that deliberately attempt to bypass a firewall's outgoing security measures. The rationale behind them is simple: If these tests can get past your computer's security defences, then so can a hacker. Explicitly designed to help identify a firewall's security flaws, leak tests inform the user whether or not their firewall is providing adequate protection.
This result comes a day after Online Armor was awarded “Best Firewall of 2008” by Scot’s Newsletter. (He is also Editor in Chief at Computerworld)

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