Yoggie Security Systems Gatekeeper Pico
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 03-02-2008
Provided by: Yoggie Security Systems
Pages:
Conclusion

One last thing I would like to address before wrapping up this review has to do with Yoggie's claim that off-loading security applications to a hardware device, rather than running them within the OS, will yield a performance benefit for the host computer. Logically it would seem that this should be true, however during testing I noticed some decrease in speed. As I mentioned previously, online gaming was severely affected by installation of the Pico. Although most lag was eliminated by disabling the HTML scanning, it still did not feel as smooth as playing without the Gatekeeper attached. The same happened with other network-related functions, such as copying files to a shared folder or streaming data over the internet. Whenever network usage was heavy, the Pico would invariably get bogged down and affect the overall speed of the computer. While I had to intentionally create a higher than normal load in order to bring things to a crawl, I felt the overall speed decrease was noticeable even under light utilization.


Business-grade firewall/router vendors will rate their product to handle a specific amount of bandwidth. This is normally expressed in bytes of data per second of throughput, basically how quickly the hardware can process the packet inspection and forward to its destination. Unfortunately, getting a precise rating for a consumer level device is a little more difficult. This is true for most of the home-use hardware manufacturers. When I noticed the apparent slow down, I asked Yoggie tech support about it, and this is the response I got:

"Yoggie's throughput speed varies dramatically according to the specific content type being scanned and the different security engines it triggers. Yoggie is constantly and steadily works on improving the performance of its products. In any case, most Internet users will not feel any throughput limitation as typical high-speed Internet connection is lower than Yoggie's limitations."


Based on my own observations however it seems throughput may be limited to around 6 Mbps with the Gatekeeper Pico product, even with HTML scanning turned off. As you can see from the internet speed tests above, download rates did not rise above 5800-5900 Kbps with the Yoggie installed. Tests run just minutes before, without the Pico in place, show speeds in the 24000-25000 Kbps range. Latency was also affected, nearly double the response times, which reflected in my online gaming experience. Speed and latency with HTML scanning enabled was even worse. Note that the time of day and distance to the test facility is important for getting as accurate data as possible, without heavy internet traffic or other problems affecting the results.

Conclusion


The Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico is an ingenious product that takes mobile security to a new level. The tiny size and robust encasement is great for users who take their laptop on the road, and the simple setup and ease of use means you don't have to be a network security specialist to reap the benefits of an all-in-one protective device. By using its internal processing power, the Pico takes the load of running these applications off the computer, freeing up valuable system resources for handling other, more important tasks. It's truly plug-n-play; once installed, you can forget about worrying with updates, responding to security prompts, or wondering if you're really protected. The Gatekeeper Pico takes care of it all.

More advanced users will enjoy the level of customization possible within the Management Console. Web filtering, black and white port lists and selectable levels of intrusion detection and prevention mean you have the flexibility to really lock the computer down or relax some of the controls depending on your security needs. Status and reporting functions are available to provide a comprehensive view into how your system is being protected. Knowledgeable tech support as well as an online knowledge base is available if you run into any problems with setup.

One addition I would like to see in the Gatekeeper product is some sort of encryption for the file system. I don't know if the Pico hardware is capable of handling the additional load, but the ability to protect your laptop's files in the event of unauthorized access or if it is lost or stolen would be a welcome feature. Just as network access is disabled when the Pico is removed from the system, it would be great if it also rendered the hard drive files unreadable.

While I believe the Pico is a great product for the standalone mobile user, anyone who uses their computer in a network environment should be warned. In testing, the Gatekeeper product limited throughput to a paltry 6 Mbps, not even as fast as network speeds from a decade ago, and nearly half the speed of the oldest 802.11 B wireless standard. Network bandwidth of at least 100 Mbps is essential for today's applications, and even most broadband internet access is as fast, if not faster than the throughput obtained using the Pico. If you don't use your PC to connect to other computers or servers, or access any other network resources such as printers or shared storage, then you probably won't notice the bandwidth limit. But I would not recommend the Pico for any networked computer or where response time is critical.

I found the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico available online for just a little over $100, and that includes your first year of updates. Cost per year after that is just $30 more, or about the same you might expect to pay for most competitive products on the market. Having all these features in one, easy-to-use, external device gives the Gatekeeper Pico a clear advantage over typical home software security solutions.

OCIA.net has awarded the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico our Seal of Approval.




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