The Yoggie Pico Pro Linux security appliance review - Part 1

The Yoggie Pico Pro Linux security appliance review - Part 1

Summary: Yesterday I received a Yoggie Pico Pro personal security appliance for review. This is a new Linux-based security computer that's the size and shape of a USB flash drive. The idea is that rather than run security apps on your PC, have them all running on the Yoggie instead. Nice idea, but how well does it work in practice?

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TOPICS: Security
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Yesterday I received a Yoggie Pico Pro personal security appliance for review.  This is a new Linux-based security computer that's the size and shape of a USB flash drive.  The idea is that rather than run security apps on your PC, have them all running on the Yoggie instead.  Nice idea, but how well does it work in practice?

Full installation/setup gallery can be found here.Yoggie Pico Pro

I have to admit that I like the sound of the Yoggie Pico Pro.  The idea of being able to offload 13 different security applications onto a dedicated appliance and being able to free up PC system resources to carry out other tasks sure has some benefits.  The Yoggie Pico Pro runs Linux 2.6 and is powered by a 520MHz Intel PXA270 processor.  Onto the Pico Pro is packed 13 security applications:

  • Anti Virus
  • Anti Spam
  • Anti Phishing
  • Anti Spyware
  • Intrusion Detection (IDS)
  • Intrusion Prevention (IPS)
  • Firewall (Stateful Inspection)
  • VPN
  • Web Filtering
  • Parental Content Control
  • Adaptive Security Policy™
  • Multi-Layer Security Agent™
  • Layer-8 Security Engine ™

I'm not going to bore you with unboxing shots and long descriptions of how the Pico Pro was packaged (this isn't a Mac after all :-), suffice to say that the Pico Pro came well packaged in a cardboard display pack containing the Pico Pro, instruction manual, installation CD and a spare end cap for the Pico Pro (a nice touch).  No lanyard or lanyard home though, although I never use them.

OK, enough about the packaging!  What about the Pico Pro itself?  Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm impressed.  Impressed enough to think about buying a few more of these at $199 each.

Installation of the Yoggie Pico Pro software (which you need on each PC that you plan on using the Pico Pro on) was simple and straightforward.  It'll work on both Windows XP and Windows Vista.  Pop the disc into the drive, click on a few options and it was installed.  Once installed you are prompted to access the Yoggie's management console to set it up.  Again, this take a couple of minutes and the process is done.

Yoggie Pico ProInitial testing of the Pico Pro seems to suggest that it's working well but to be honest it's too early to tell yet as I've not been using it for long.  Over the next few days I want to carry out more testing and I'll post my finding here.  However, here are a few of my initial thoughts:

  • I love the compact design.  However, this is double-edged and could lead to loss.
  • Spare cap - nice idea!
  • Easy to use interface - I thought administrating 13 separate security apps would be a nightmare.
  • Drivers aren't digitally signed - I would expect that the drivers for a security appliance would be signed for security.
  • I wish that it came supplied with a short USB cable as my USB ports are close to the hot air exhaust outlet on the notebook which means that the Pico Pro gets quite hot.

Stay tuned for more!

For more details visit Yoggie.  Price: $199

Thoughts?  Would you be interested in a portable security appliance such as the Yoggie Pico Pro?  Do you have any ideas or suggestions as to what tests should I carry out on it?  Share your thoughts!

Topic: Security

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20 comments
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  • Tip: better and cheaper.....

    I suggest a better and cheaper solution:
    - buy a 10 dollar USB memory stick (any brand)
    - install Damn Small Linux (50 MB) or Puppy Linux (90 MB) on it. You can do that from within the LiveCD session of both Linuxes: they both feature a graphical disk installer, not only for hard drives, but also for USB pendrives.
    - boot your PC from the USB memory stick: fully functional graphical desktop, word processing, browsing, you name it.... Safe as a house and rock solid!

    This should take you about 30 minutes, and will cost you only 10 dollars for the USB memory stick and 50 cents for a blank CD.

    Greetz, Pjotr.
    pjotr123
    • Cheaper? Yes.

      Better? Only if you don't plan on doing anything more than simple web browsing, e-mail, and word processing. And even then it's not as safe as running directly off a LiveCD, because a USB drive is not write-protected.
      Michael Kelly
    • Also

      It looks like this Yoggie device is also write protected at the hardware level, so that makes it safer than even DSL or Puppy on a USB stick.
      Michael Kelly
    • Does this poke a hole in your suggestion?

      http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=147
      ejhonda
      • What is your point?

        I fail to see your point. A complete operating system,with apps,on a USB memory stick, is quite normal. Mandriva does it, Puppy Linux does it, Damn Small Linux does it. Boot any PC from the stick and off you go.

        Flash memory is quite fit for that. Hey, even the One Laptop Per Child project aims to put the operating system of the little laptop on flash memory instead of a hard drive.
        pjotr123
    • What about the cost of the PC?

      The device he listed is basically a mini-PC that does it for you, freeing up your PC resources. $10 for the memory stick with puppy is great, but what about the PC you plug it into cost wise? Also, this extra PC running puppy to do all those functions would be protecting the "puppy pc", which doesn't really need these functions. How do you configure the "puppy pc" to monitor and keep the windows pc secure?

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • You have a point there.

        That is true. Oh well, why use this leaky security risk named Windows at all? :-)

        To put it more precisely: Windows is a fine operating system, as long as it's not connected to the internet........

        Greetz, Pjotr.
        pjotr123
    • I agree

      I have been using Puppy Linux running from a 512MB flash drive I paid less than $10 for. It is the best solution when using the internet while traveling because I can use the sytems of friends (as long as they can boot from a flash drive) without any worry that what I do will result in any harm to their system.
      Puppy Linux loads into and runs from RAM, so even if the running OS were to be corrupted by malware, a fresh copy loads the next time it is booted. Also, it is unlikely the hard drive will be corrupted since there is no client running that can even talk to the hard drive the way I use it.
      Furthermore, there are flash drives that can be write protected with a switch although I have not tested any of them to see if they can be booted. One would then lose the ability to store files loaded during an internet session however. It also appears to be the case that not all flash drives are bootable.
      And what is this complaint that you can only run email, browse the internet, and word processors? I use Open Office which has a sophisticated word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation package, all compatible with MS Office files. Furthermore, there are games, sophisticated photo editing, DVD movie viewing,and CD/DVD burners. I do have some programs that I still run under Windows,but only because I have already paid for and leasrned them. And when I run them, I am never connected to the internet.
      True, it does not protect my system when I run Windows on it like Pico Pro would, but then I don't need to protct my Windows OS since I don't go on the internet with it. That is the way I unload my PC from the burden of running protection software. And think of the time I save not worrying about updating my MS OS every month and buying all kinds of malware protection software. In fact, I see no need for Pico Pro at all, since it only appears to protect my Windows OS.
      compunaut34
  • Their site must be overloaded

    because I'm having a hard time connecting.

    I was able to view a couple pages, but there are some questions unanswered which I hope you will follow up on.

    1. How are virus (spyware, phishing, etc.) definitions kept up to date? Are they downloaded onto the stick or the PC? And if they go on the stick, are they loaded onto the writable flash chip or is the unwritable one opened up for updates? And if they are loaded into the writable portion what happens if there is a breach, do they just get re-downloaded, or do they get re-downloaded upon every reboot? (I could list a ton of follow-up questions based on the answers to these questions, so I won't list them all.)

    2. What operating systems (and versions) does it run on besides XP?

    3. Is this a complete GPL solution? Not that it will affect my buying decision, but I'm curious as to what source code is available. Also, if it is, since this is both a software and hardware product as well as a service (and all three are very specialized) this would make an interesting case study as to how to make a profit off of a pure GPL (or at least pure GPL compatible) solution. You could get a hacker to reproduce this, but since the hardware requirements are so specific (and tiny) and since there is a service provided as far updates are concerned it would not be a profitable solution to DIY.
    Michael Kelly
    • Answers:

      "1. How are virus (spyware, phishing, etc.) definitions kept up to date? Are they downloaded onto the stick or the PC?"

      They're loaded onto the stick, beyond that, I'll have to ask Yoggie

      "2. What operating systems (and versions) does it run on besides XP?"

      Vista

      "3. Is this a complete GPL solution? Not that it will affect my buying decision, but I'm curious as to what source code is available."

      It's not GPL as far as I'm aware. Good question though, I'll put it to Yoggie.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • I'm interested!

    Adrian, please be sure to give us the results of your testing. If it works well, I'd be willing to plunk down the $200 for this appliance!
    Zeppo9191
  • Yo Gi

    No Gi.
    No Nice.

    Say, what [i]is[/i] this Linux of which you speak?
    ;)
    D T Schmitz
    • ROFL

      Dunno why I found your post funny, but I did!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Cool....

    Could be a very useful tool for many/most... Glad to see you are looking.
    (or just got one) (for those with more than 2 ports & a need for "RediBoost")

    Like to see you get a Linux Dell or System76.
    (I'm sure there are analogs in your part of the world)

    I would prefer the earlier Yoggie Gatekeeper for Notebooks or workstations.
    http://linuxdevices.com/news/NS2860172381.html

    Looking forward to the other parts......
    LazLong
  • Intrinsically secure.

    There is something intrinsically secure about running security on a separate CPU and a separate OS. I think the USB dongle format is a great initial format and a great add-on, but this thing really belongs on the motherboard, especially for enterprise-level computers. Maybe Intel or Dell or HP will step up to the plate and license this stuff (if a license is even needed) to put this on (at least) their server motherboards.
    baldwinleo@...
  • How does this compare to...

    About a year ago I read about a security device that would plug into a home network between the dsl/cable modem and the router. Anti-spam, anti-virus, etc. Similar to the Yoggie Pico in that processing is off-loaded from the system CPU; but it allowed you to protect all machines on your network. Never heard a word about it since.
    lwe3
    • D-Link I think...

      I am VERY intersted in a device like Yoggie if it works. D-Link tried it with a simular device... it didnt' work, plan and simple, it didn't work. I am ordering Yoggie now. Most curious about how they keep definations files up to date but since you do have some PC software I'm quessing the PC actually does that work?
      steve@...
  • don't think vista will let it install without signed drivers. didn't let my

    roxio 8.2 install, so it probably won't let this install either.

    what is your test bed.

    :)

    .
    wessonjoe
  • "space end cap"???

    " . . . and a space end cap for the Pico Pro (a nice touch)."

    Can you wear the "space end cap" on an airline flight? A suborbital flight? Or is the space cap reserved only for true space travel?
    Xojo
    • Just pop it on your head ...

      ... and it'll allow you to visit all the planets - Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, the lot.

      :-)
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes