Ash Nallawalla's blog

Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico – Review

Now your computer can think outside the box, says Ash Nallawalla

Your PC has an intrinsic weakness that makes it easy for hostile files such as viruses or spyware to get past your defences. There is no need to be alarmed, as this is true for most PCs on the planet. In spite of installing the usual protection, such as a software firewall, an anti-virus program, your PC might be safe, but it is losing as much as 30 percent of its usable power. This power consists of CPU time and RAM.

Click to enlargeYes, it is quite normal for a PC to lose (actually, “use” is a more accurate word) its resources temporarily for every additional task it performs, which is why you should buy as much additional RAM as you can afford. I have 2 GB RAM and could buy more, but I cannot add more CPUs to my home PC. So what do I need to get?

I need a mini-computer. Yes, you read correctly. No, not those boat anchors from the 1970s, but a Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico to be exact. It is about the size of a thick USB flash drive. It can clip to a shirt pocket and comes with a spare cap in case you tend to lose the caps of USB drives.

Israeli company Yoggie Security Systems has come up with the classic “outside the box” solution by placing a complete Linux-based computer inside a USB flash drive. This mini-computer (is it a micro-computer?) acts literally as a gatekeeper by routing all incoming and outgoing traffic through itself and blocks all the nasty stuff.

Yes, the tiny computer has 128 MB RAM and runs at 520 MHz – those specs are good enough for its limited role. The memory is split so that the operating system cannot be reached from the part that processes the data stream.

The Pico acts as a firewall, like your hardware firewall at home (you do have one, right?), but you can’t take it with your laptop computer to a wireless hotspot. Many of those hotspots are usually wide open, so as not to cause problems for users who cannot configure WEP keys or type passwords. Your laptop is then visible to others who are sharing the same hotspot and one of them may have malicious intentions. Gamers remove unnecessary programs to get the most from their PC, so this little device is very relevant to their cause.

The Pico also protects against new virus threats for which a signature file has not been supplied by your anti-virus maker. If any part of a file looks suspicious, it is blocked. Yoggie has three pending patents in this area, so the smarts go beyond a basic heuristics scanner.

You can also use it for parental control on a child’s PC. It will block access to inappropriate sites, phishing emails, and stop spyware in its tracks.

You get a Kaspersky anti-virus CD that installs on your computer, not on the Pico. This is to clean your PC before you use the Pico, which comes with its integrated Kaspersky anti-virus engine. You can also use the software to scan a floppy disk or USB drive.

In Use

Installing and using the Gatekeeper Pico is easy. You plug it in and then install the drivers and Yoggie software. Next, you register it at the Yoggie website and you are ready to go. Unlike its corporate big brother device the Gatekeeper Pro, which works with the Yoggie Management Server, it works in stand-alone mode.

The device gets quite warm. The Pico is a computer, so this is normal and it is stated on the website. Come to think of it, some of my USB flash drives get warm to hot as well.

I have been running the Pico on my Windows Vista desktop for a couple of months and no nasty programs or spyware have been detected, so it is doing its job. I pulled out the device and instantly lost my Internet connection, so that feature works as claimed. All in all, the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico is a clever device that does its job silently and keeps your PC protected. You may find it available for as little as US$95 (plus postage) from online discount outlets.

Vendor: Yoggie

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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4 Comments

  • Patches on 1 May 2008

    Is it designed to be used on PCs & lap tops only or can it be used with Macs & Mac lap tops as I have an iMac & a Mac Book Pro which I use away from home quite a lot?

  • Ash on 4 May 2008

    The short answer is No. The device ought to work with a Mac but the installation CD is for Windows only. See http://kb.yoggie.com/index.php?action=artikel&cat=2&id=40&artlang=en&highlight=mac

  • Patches on 4 May 2008

    Thanks for that much appreciated. I had a feeling that would be the answer.

    I must say that I have only ever used Macs purely because of the security of the Operating System and would never own a PC even if you paid me.

    It never ceases to amaze me how Microsoft have continued to get away with selling a product which is clearly faulty.

    If any other company were to sell a faulty product they would either be sued, forced to correct the fault or they would normally very quickly go out of business.

    Oh well. Thanks again.

  • Richard White on 26 October 2008

    Purchased a Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico two weeks ago from the WalMart webpage ($98). Turns out the Yoggie installation CD was out of date (not compliant with XP SP-3). Called Yoggie customer service and a rather surly gentleman told me to download the new driver (which bypasses all the registration stuff on the original CD). I downloaded and after a second call to customer service, finally got my Yoggie up and working and I suppose it is also registered because I did have to type in the key but no other information.

    Installed Kaspersky and turns out it was also out of date (2006 version – apparently my Yoggie sat on a shelf at WalMart for a couple of years!). Only way to contact Kaspersky is via their website, which I did. Got a response that they would contact me within two days. It has now been 10 working days since my contact and still no response.

    Today I uninstalled Kaspersky because of its constant reminders that my “key” had expired and I needed to purchase a new one.

    I like the Yoggie and have used it at several hot spots without any problems at all.

    Just wish I had received a “fresh” package with current installation and Kaspersky.

    Regards,

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