Yoggie Pico Personal: Thumb-Drive-Size Security Appliance

Employes who work at large companies have Internet connections that are firewalled and filtered for spam and viruses by server-based security software. Since the processing this protection requires happens on another computer, it doesn’t slow users' systems down. Now the Yoggie (pronounced YOH- gee, like the bear) Pico Personal brings this kind of protection to your personal desktop or laptop.

The Pico packs a complete Linux-based computer with a Pentium 3 equivalent CPU into a case the size and shape of a USD thumb drive. Thirteen security apps from well-regarded vendors run on the device (so they don't bog down your PC) and filter out problems at the network level. For added security, the driver blocks all network activity if the Pico isn’t plugged in; an emergency password lets you disable protection in case you lose or break the device.

The management console reports overall security status and offers slick charts and logs of all security events. It also lets you change a few simple settings; for example, you can toggle spam filtering on and off or configure content filtering. Most users should leave the advanced settings alone, though.

The hardware firewall protects against outside attack only; it doesn't include the program-control element common in sofirware-based firewalls. On my initial tests, it failed to stealth a couple of ports, but Yoggie techs quickly released a firmware update that brought 100 percent success. The hardware-based protection proved solid, too- I couldn't hack it.

The device, which filters incoming POP3 e-mail and flags messages that have a high spam score, works with any e-mail client, but the user, has to define a message rule to divert spam messages into their own folder. Out of hundreds of e-maiIs, the filter flagged only one valid message as spam and let less than 10 percent of spam e-mails into the Inbox. That's better than most antispam software. Primitive category-based content filtering is also available, though most users won't need it.

Yoggie's antivirus and antispyware protection scans only the files that come into the system via POP3, FTP, or HTML. To bolster this limited protection, the company offers a year's free subscription to Kaspersky AntiVirus. My testing showed that you'll definitely need the added protection: The Pica blocked less than half of my standard spyware samples.

The security the Yoggie Pico Personal adds is definitely effective- but expensive. And although you can rely on its spam server and firewall, you should retain local security software for full protection against viruses and spyware.

Yoggie Pico Personal: $179 direct


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