Firewalls are normally provided by software solutions but the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pro takes this one stage further, providing a dedicated CPU and associated 128MB of memory in the guise of an ExpressCard compatible with the MacBook Pro line.
As well as a firewall, the kit features Kaspersky antivirus and antispyware, Mailshell anti-spam and anti-phishing plus SurfControl Web content filtering. But its presence on the market clearly shows that Yoggie thinks there's a need.
The idea behind such devices is simple: many software security products slow down your Mac's performance. By providing extra power on a dedicated card, the performance won't be affected.
Of course, this is a simplistic view (a powerful Mac will hardly be slowed by security software), but it has some merit and the security conscious may well think it worth having, especially for the protection against spam and phishing that it features.
There's hardly any set-up necessary. An icon installs itself in the menu bar, which shows green if everything is well. Take the card out and it turns to grey. It also gives you access to the browser-based interface.
When you launch the Yoggie configuration interface, you're given four options: Status, Reports, Settings and Support. The interface is simple to understand and good use is made of graphs and other graphics for this.
Your overall risk level (in the Status area) is shown as a big dial, while the Reports section gives you charts on the number of firewall threats and the number of instances spam and malware.
The Reports section carries more detail, too, such as enabling you to review the time-stamped activity of your Yoggie plus other information such as VPN access.
The options within the Settings area are quite detailed, but the main control once again makes things simple. A slider enables you to set the general security policy for your device, High, Medium or Low, meaning you can decide the level of protection. An Advanced button enables you to make further tweaks.
Finally, the Support tab enables you to diagnose any problems as well as informing you about various specification details about your system and the Yoggie's system. So far so good. Until you see the price.
The problem with security products for the Mac is that there just aren't that many threats out there. Most of us have firewalls already, too. There's probably one in your router, as well as in OS X. Yes, so the Mailshell anti-spam and anti-phishing features will be useful, but it's a lot to pay for something that's standard in many £30-£50 software Mac security suites.
And despite what all the security guys are telling us – that threats for Macs, as well games consoles and smartphones are to be wreaked upon us at some point 'in the future' – we're not seeing anything of the sort, mostly because it's not worth the while for the unscrupulous to develop them, which is why phishing and other forms are becoming more prevalent.
Security threats across the board have changed, with security being more of an issue for Mac users. Performance and results for the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pro seem solid, and it's the ultimate in peace of mind, but if you really want an added layer of protection, we'd rather recommend a software solution based purely on cost.