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Firewall Cowboyz Set the Stage to Free Innocent Convict

Written By: Laura Taylor
Published On: August 18 2000

Firewall Cowboyz Set the Stage to Free Innocent Convict
L. Taylor - August 18, 2000

Event Summary

In an odd-but-true turn of events, a firewall vendor is responsible for helping to assist the freeing of an innocent man who spent 10 years too long incarcerated in Texas. Roy Criner, has been serving a 99 year sentence for a rape and murder of a 16 year old girl that he never committed. Based on circumstantial evidence of three witnesses, Criner was sentenced in 1990. In 1997 DNA evidence was presented that exonerated Criner.

Figure 1. Cowboyz.com specializes in Firewall Services

After years of public outrage, this new turn of events got the attention of Bob Burtman, a Houston Press Reporter. Burtman's articles were brought to the attention of Cowboyz founder Noel Henson, who decided to build a website, gratis, for what he felt was long overdue justice in need of some attention. The firewall Cowboyz worked with Burtman to create a website to help Criner get the badly needed exposure, so the prosecutor, sheriff, and judge would take notice. On July 28th, with the judge's support, the prosecutor recommended to the Texas Board of Paroles that Criner be released from prision.

On Friday, July 28, state District Court Judge Michael Mayes read a prepared statement to a Montgomery County courtroom packed with members of the Criner family and the media. "This court feels the pain and anger from both sides of this case," Mayes stated, acknowledging the victim's family as well as the community. Judge Mayes went on to say that, "Justice is not a static, unmoving and unliving thing." Mayes was the judge who had recommended a new trial when the first DNA test excluded Criner. After the latest evidence, Judge Mayes concluded that Criner was innocent, and signed a request for a pardon.

Criner's mother, Jackie, believes that Roy would still be looking at a life sentence if it hadn't been for the efforts of the media, his lawyer, and Cowboyz.com. It is Ms. Criner's belief that Montgomery County acted only after public pressure and new evidence made continued erroneous accusations difficult.

Though Cowboyz.com specializes in firewall security products and consultations, they started out as a local ISP, connecting users to the Internet, and building websites. Founded in 1996 by Noel Henson and Ray Browne, Cowboyz.com gradually transitioned to an Internet security company after discovering that small businesses were leaving themselves incredibly exposed to security vulnerabilities. Their initial customers were so insecure that Henson and Browne began putting together security products to protect their customer base.

According to a Cowboyz.com spokesman, most customers were originally in denial about how insecure their networks were. After they got past the denial stage, their next excuse would be that they couldn't afford security. Cowboyz gave these customers just what they needed, affordable security, and a support package to go with it. Self-funded and privately held, Cowboyz.com now has 15 employees, with 5 of them specialized security engineers.

Market Impact

With over 70 firewall products on the market, getting attention in this swelling IT segment is not as easy at it used to be. Oddly enough, a weird event such as this can get the industry analysts to at least notice you, and say, "I wonder if their firewall is any good?" We took a look at the Cowboyz firewall to find out just what its features were, and how well it can keep real outlaws off your network.

Cowboyz.com appliance firewall, known as iWall, operates at over 400Mhz, and is a based on a proxy architecture. Proxy firewalls are extremely secure if configured properly. The iWall can accommodate 64-87MB ram, and can support four 100base Fast Ethernet T/10base T Ethernet connections, as well as a T1 line, and an extra port for another interface. For a standard security demilitarized zone (DMZ), these are all the interfaces one typically needs.

Based on Linux, the iWall supports NAT in three configurations, one to one addressing, one to many addressing, and many to many - range to range network addressing. The most requested network protocols, IP, TCP, UDP, HTTP, and HTTPS all run on the iWall, as well as RFC compliant routing protocols: ICMP, ARP, and CIDR. You do not need to reboot the iWall after changing a rule, or adding a rule, and both user rules and network rules can be defined. The iWall has built-in site-to-site VPN support, and includes a secure remote access VPN client. Logging is done with syslog, and all the major proxy services are supported.

At $1,000.00 an install, hardware included, we don't think you will be able to find a better price on a working firewall out there. Cowboyz.com offers a three-tiered monthly maintenance and support package that runs from $249.00 up to $524.00 depending on whether your support contract is a 1, 2, or 3 year contract. This includes daily backups and monitoring.

Because the "arms race" in network security is ongoing, the Cowboyz iWall team feels that the service aspect of the product - Cowboyz's monitoring the firewall remotely for intrusions and regularly updating the firewall configuration to ward off the latest in hacking techniques - is more important to the customer's network security than the firewall appliance itself. Cowboyz security technicians assert that an outdated, poorly configured firewall is sometimes more dangerous than lacking a firewall altogether, because an aging firewall setup lulls network administrators into a false sense of complacency.

User Recommendations

  • With companies like Cowboyz.com available, financial excuses for not securing your network don't hold water anymore. Even small companies can now afford to protect their networks.

  • As a self-funded company, Cowboyz.com can afford to do a quality job, without having to worry about flying through installations at a dangerously fast pace in order to satisfy revenue quotas, venture capitalists, and shareholders.

  • The iWall may not the be most feature-rich firewall on the market, but it's a solid appliance, and we're sure your network will be safer with one that without one.

  • Once Roy Criner is released from the pokey, he may even want to learn a bit about network security and find out how firewall cowboyz take care of real outlaws.

 
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