Utility software

DoorStop X 1.0

DoorStop X 1.0 is intended as an easy-to-use replacement for the software firewall built into OS X, and it offers finer control of configuration and logging. The program’s documentation and interface achieve a good balance of simplifying the basics of configuring a firewall while avoiding complexity that might overwhelm novice users. The program’s focus on simplicity may explain its lack of features in comparison to other third-party firewall programs.

Firewall configuration

DoorStop X is easy to install, and the firewall is configured by default to deny all TCP requests. Individual services, such as printer sharing or personal file sharing, can then be configured to allow or deny all access, either completely or for a specific range of IP addresses. The program comes with a default list of common services and associated ports to choose from, each with a corresponding icon to help novice users locate the correct items quickly. Users also can enter additional services, to supplement those not found in the preconfigured list.

What’s missing

DoorStop X performed as expected, denying and logging access attempts as configured. However, while DoorStop X can be set to log malicious access attempts, the program lacks real-time alerts. Open Door Networks does offer a companion product called Who’s There? Firewall Advisor (   ; February 2002 ), which allows users to analyze firewall logs, but with no real-time analysis and alerting, access attempts such as port scans could go unnoticed until long after the event.

Once you’ve closed the main DoorStop X Setup window, the program offers no indication of the firewall’s status. Since it is not uncommon to temporarily disable a software firewall while troubleshooting network problems, a toolbar icon or other indicator would be a welcome addition to remind users of the firewall’s status.

Another missing feature common to several comparable add-on firewall packages such as Firewalk X2 (   ; March 2005 ) and BrickHouse is the ability to save and easily switch between multiple configurations. This can be handy for laptop users who might want to swap between different firewall settings at home, at work, or on public wireless networks.

Open Door Networks says that the company considered implementing some of these features, but they were left out in the interest of keeping the program easy to use, and some may be considered for future releases.

Macworld’s buying advice

DoorStop X may be the right product for novice users seeking more features than the firewall built into OS X, and using an interface that is easy to understand. However, users willing to deal with complexity may opt for more features at a comparable price in competing firewalls.

[ Matt Vance is a technology consultant, Web developer, and freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. ]

DoorStop X can be configured to allow or deny services to a range of IP addresses.

Subscribe to the Help Desk Newsletter

Comments