Computer Security Device
to the web site
Cable modem or DSL modem and a hi-speed broadband Internet
. . . the joys of surfing the Web; the joys of e-mail, chat,
instant messaging and endless megabytes of downloads. High
speed Internet access makes it all possible. Are you addicted
to blindingly boring surfing punctuated by the occasional
interesting hit? Are you chained to 2:00 AM sessions which
stretch on still longer because you're afraid that the physical
act of going to bed will wake somebody up in an otherwise
deathly quiet home? Have you been hacked - files messed up,
privacy invaded? Face it - you need a leash connected to something
which will give it a good, hard yank every so often. It would
also be nice to have some protection from all the nonsense
you download that manages to give backdoor access to system
hackers. Ya gotta love high-speed Internet yes? Well, yes,
is a small piece of security hardware which contains a proprietary
switch accessed via two buttons: Connect and Disconnect. The
device is designed to sit between your cable/DSL modem and
your computer. Connect your cable or DSL modem to the AlphaShield,
then connect the AlphaShield to your computer, router or hub.
Plug the power supply into the AlphaShield and you're done.
There's no software or driver requirement of any kind.
can operate in one of three modes controlled by a three position
slider switch on the rear panel. The first mode is called
Manual. In this mode, your Internet session will last for
15 minutes. During the final 30 seconds, a warning LED will
flash on the AlphaShield reminding you to hit the Connect
button in order to continue online. If you don't hit Connect,
AlphaShield will disconnect you and retain the IP address
for the session. The second mode is called Auto. It is basically
an always-on setting. You can hit the Disconnect button at
any time to end a session, the point being to securely disconnect
your computer from the Internet by means of AlphaShield's
unhackable switch. The third mode is referred to as Lockout,
and like Manual mode is timed. If you let AlphaShield disconnect
you after 15 minutes, you will be physically off the Internet
and your IP address will be purged from the AlphaShield.
AlphaShield works perfectly. We tried the device on a couple
of computers at home. Like PathLock's e100 NETimer, the disconnection
from the Internet is complete and secure. Unlike the e100
however, AlphaShield's Lockout mode will drop your IP address.
That's a strong argument for picking up one of these units
if you have any sort of worries which might be solved by real
IP shredding and disconnection from the Internet.
These devices need a selectable timer with settings for 15
& 30 minutes and 1, 2 & 3 hours at least. Having to
constantly hit the Connect button gets terrifically irritating
after a while. You have to hit the Connect button before you
boot up your computer. It's a paranoid's dream come true.
You better place the device where the LEDs can be clearly
seen - they're your only warning for disconnection. If you
don't mind the time required to boot up your computer, shutting
it down every evening will also securely disconnect you from
the Internet. Although the build quality of the device seems
quite good (we, um, dropped the thing a couple of times and
it still works properly), the price is a bit high. We expect
prices on all these sorts of devices to come down over time.
Not very useful for controlling the kids' online sessions
because of the very short timer. We had to interrupt instant
message, e-mail and other online typing to hit the Connect
button far too frequently for comfort.
If you need full disconnection throughout the day or evening
without shutting down your computer, the AlphaShield is an
excellent choice. This seems to be a growing product category
at the moment and we're eager to see if AlphaShield does enough
business to be able to create a model with a selectable timer
- definitely a keeper if it shows up. Similar to software
firewalls such as ZoneAlarm, hides your IP address from the
Internet to some degree which in turn makes your computer
almost invisible to hackers. Works with any standard cable/DSL,
Ethernet-based connection. If you need absolutely secure disconnects
from the Internet without shutting down your computer, try
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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