No firewall plans yet, Xtra says

Xtra has made some of its promised improvements to protect JetStream users from sudden, expensive increases in network traffic, but hasn't decided whether to add firewall-style protection for subscribers.

Xtra has made some of its promised improvements to protect JetStream users from sudden, expensive increases in network traffic, but hasn’t decided whether to add firewall-style protection for subscribers.

In June last year Telecom told Computerworld it needed to offer better security to users and was considering a range of features.

“We have ticked off a lot of those boxes,” Xtra spokeswoman Anna Martin says. Xtra has fixed problems with its usage meter and set up better notification services when bandwidth usage gets close to monthly limits, alerting subscribers before they start to use excess traffic, she says.

Monthly excess traffic is usually charged at 20c per megabyte. Martin says plans taking effect on March 8 will reduce the excess traffic charges from 20c per megabyte to 5c, and remove excess charges from the flat-rate plan, which will offer reduced speeds after the traffic cap is reached.

Xtra’s anti-spam and anti-virus services have also reduced the likelihood of customers being charged for traffic caused by software nasties such as the Mydoom virus, she says.

However, firewall-type protection is not currently offered on consumer plans, Martin says. Firewalls can be used to block traffic from historically vulnerable services such as Windows file sharing, which are exploited by software worms and trojans, and can also block applications such as peer-to-peer programs which can generate huge traffic bills.

Xtra may or may not offer a firewall service in the future, Martin says. “That’s something we’re still considering.”

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