On Technology Inc has updated its On Guard firewall with a new interface that it has spent about 10 months improving with help from its users. The Cambridge, Massachusetts company’s vice president of engineering, Jay Baston, believes it is time for the firewall market to segment between the network gods and the rest of us, with On’s new product firmly in the latter camp. On Guard is not a proxy server, it instead employs the same SMLI Stateful Multi-Layer Inspection protocol as used by industry leader Checkpoint Software Inc. So instead of initiating handshakes and the like, it listens to the traffic and uses a rules-based system to examine it. The main benefit over proxy is that it is lightweight and fast, and therefore takes up less processor time. On claims it can cope with T1-level traffic on a 80486 66MHz personal computer. Online also uses a slimline operating system called Secure32, rather than Windows NT, as Checkpoint does. The level of security hasn’t been changed with version 2.0, but neither has it been compromised, according to Braston. On Guard version 2.0 will be available from February 24 as a turnkey kit, including a Hewlett-Packard Co Vectra personal computer and network interface cards, costing $7,000 for 100 IP address protection, rising to $16,500 for unlimited IP address protection. A 40-bit add-on encryption module goes for between $2,000 and $5,000 extra.