The netSurity Bridge system is unusual and hard to categorize. The software operates as client or server, depending on how and where it is configured. It does not provide access to a full desktop environment or to shared network resources, but it does provide an effective mechanism for accessing any TCP-based service through secure connections.
Installation is easy. The software has a simple user interface with two tabbed panels, which use a data grid to allow the user to select or enter data and create connections.
The software defines hosts as either listeners or destinations. Each link consists of a listener, an associated TCP port, a destination, also with an associated TCP port, and a type code which determines whether the link will be in plain text or encrypted. The destination must also be running a copy of the Bridge software, and must have a similarly defined link before communication can be established. The target system can define its destination as a service which it provides itself, or as a service provided on another host, which does not need to have the Bridge software installed.
The usage panel displays a graph of active sessions over time. This is more useful at the server end of a connection, because this is where performance is more critical.
The system was easy to configure to provide access to email and web services by defining the links and configuring the client's email program and web browser to use the appropriate host names and port numbers. However, it would help to simplify administration tasks if the software could be installed and configured from a script.
The system can be deployed in a number of ways. The simplest provides access between a remote system, perhaps a laptop, and a server, or between two VPN systems. However, because each Bridge can be configured to link to several systems, it is possible to devise quite complex linkages to provide secure communication for servers joined as part of a distributed application. This will interest anyone looking to provide secure distributed systems.