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Firewall

Figure 17 displays the top level Firewall menu. Like Parental Control, there is a global enable/disable the firewall menu. Security settings produces a simple interface similar to those seen in consumer routers that allows you to select TCP and UDP ports to block coming in and going out. This is one of those functions that most people do not benefit from because they don't know what ports are or why they are important.

Firewall screen

Figure 17: Firewall screen (click to enlarge)

So, while this user interface to allow and block ports may be fun for the networking-savvy, true geeks won't use a graphical interface and the rest of us don't know what we should be doing with this. This is one of those features that is in the DSD-150 because it is in competitive products, not because people use the functionality. The more useful settings in the Firewall menu for less networking-savvy folks are in "Software Selections."

Figure 18 displays the block/unblock check boxes of this sub-menu that controls Internet access for a large variety of Internet applications. Although AOL Instant Messaging is one of the selections, I found that blocking all of an IM client's features is more than the DSD-150 is capable of.

Firewall Software Selections screen

Figure 18: Firewall Software Selections screen (click to enlarge)

It seems like every new transport to the Internet opens a new infinity. The infinity of instant messaging began with one-to-one text chat, then added many-to-many text chat, file swapping, gaming, voice, shared file spaces, etc. As mentioned above, this long list of features appears to be too much for the DSD-150 to handle. It also doesn't help that there are IM blocking controls both here and in the Parental Controls Categories menu.

When I set out to test IM blocking, I checked the box in the Parental Controls Categories (Figure 13) but didn't see any blocking. It wasn't until I started exploring the Firewall Software Selections screen that I found out why. My "Aha!" came when I looked and saw that AOL IM is unblocked by default! So, even though I checked "Instant Messaging" in Parental Control Categories, I wasn't blocking instant messaging because it is enabled in the Firewall. D'oh!

Hey D-Link, how about merging the Parental Controls Categories and Firewall Software Selections menus or at least include a pop-up that directs the user to the related controls of the other? Actually, this is another great example - along with my nude thumbnails - of changes needed in the next generation of filtering devices. Simple blocking needs to be integrated with proxy filtering so things like nude thumbnails leading to blocked web sites don't get through.

By the way, even once I had all the checkboxes checked, I was unsuccessful in getting IM blocking to entirely work.

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