Compaq's AltaVista Firewall - a security proxy for network

AltaVista Firewall by Compaq is one of the high end security proxies for network. Read the article for its security features, price and other details.

AltaVista Firewall is one of the high end firewalls used for businesses. It is manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation which is now a part of Compaq. The firewall runs well on Unix and Windows NT. However, AltaVista's SQL*Net proxy is not supported on platforms running Windows NT. AltaVista is a proxy firewall as well as a packet filter. It makes sure that all data packets conform to protocol specifications and secures a network against IP level denial of service attacks. If you compare AltaVista with other firewall packages, you will see that AltaVista is exceptionally easy to use. The firewall is easy to install and the maintenance is pain-free. The documentation provided at the time of purchase, contains all information and is easy to understand.

Minimum system requirements

To use AltaVista, your system must have following:

  • DIGITAL UNIX version 4.0 B, C, D or Windows NT version 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or above

  • Alpha processor with DIGITAL UNIX or an Intel processor running Windows NT

  • More than one network adapters

  • CD-ROM reader

  • Memory of 32 MB for DIGITAL UNIX and 48 MB for Windows NT

  • For installation, a disk space of 25 MB for DIGITAL UNIX and 11 MB for Windows NT

  • For use, a disk space of 1 GB for DIGITAL UNIX and 2 GB for Windows NT

  • Interface

    AltaVista has a very user friendly and intelligent web-based graphical interface. It enables easy remote administration. The remote management console provides all information about the internal processes, logging details, report generation and proxy services of the firewall. The drop/pass rules can be created by the user as per his need.

    Security features

    Packet filter

    The packet filter restricts IPs and prevents spoofing. The filter is not a stateful inspector. The firewall effectively breaks the TCP/IP routing link on the host computer to force data packets through application proxies which hide the IP address from external systems.


    All standard authentications including Security Dynamics, Crypto Card, Watchword, S/Key, RACAL and one-time passwords are supported by the firewall.

    AltaVista Tunnel

    AltaVista Tunnel is not included in the firewall. This is a separate product in the package which provides remote access and VPN.

    Port redirection & CVP support

    AltaVista includes URL filtering and Java blocking services. It supports Content Vectoring Protocol (CVP) so that the servers can be connected while running virus scanning and content scanning software. It redirects the port and prevents the system from denial of service attacks.

    Dual Domain Name Servers (DNS)

    Users can store different names for the public and private servers. The private names inside the network will not be accessible publicly.

    Real time monitoring services

    AltaVista provides excellent monitoring services where administrators can configure logging and on any event detection, the firewall will send alarms through email, messages or pager notifications.

    Operating System hardening

    To stave off IP level attacks, AltaVista relies on the host operating system. Thus, during the installation process, it performs an exhaustive OS hardening. Every time the system is scanned, known vulnerabilities are immediately corrected and any unnecessary service is shut down to remove the back doors available to hackers.

    Application proxies

    A strong set of application proxies are present for internet services. Also, a generic TCP and UDP SOCK proxy is provided to enable users to create their own proxies for different clients. An effective firewall not only filters the packets between the network and internet but also provide proxies to maximum number of protocols. Some of major protocols for which AltaVista provides proxies are FTP, Gopher, Telnet, HTTP, S HTTP, SMTP, NNTP and POP.


    To buy AltaVista Firewall, visit the official website of AltaVista. The price of the product depends on the network size. For 25 clients using Windows NT, the price is $2495. For 50 clients and for 200 clients using either of the operating systems, the prices are $ 3,995 and $7,995 respectively. For unlimited number of clients, the price is $14,995. The documentation provided at the time of purchase is very task driven and includes all instructions. An evaluation edition can be downloaded from the website for free. A 24x7 support is provided by the company through email.


    While centralized management, strong remote management, transport proxies and easy usage are the advantages of this firewall, absence of stateful inspector and Network Address Translator are its drawbacks. However, other security features, which are powerful enough, take care of these shortcomings and ensure foolproof safety of the network. Thus, AltaVista is not a bad security solution in this price.

    Read Lucent Managed Firewall - A dedicated firewall for network security

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