McAfee Granted Firewall Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted software maker McAfee a patent for tracking network events on a computer using a firewall. The patent filing involves tracing the location of an incoming connection and displaying a map showing where the remote system geographically resides.

Specifically, McAfee's patent covers a firewall recording what it calls a "traffic event" into a log file. The log records the time and IP address of the remote system, which is then traced to its origin.

"With this technology, McAfee customers can illustratively ascertain the geographic origin of potentially malicious traffic events," said Vincent Rossi, McAfee senior vice president of Product Management and Marketing.

The patent application was filed with the USPTO in early 2002, after McAfee purchased the NeoTrace traceroute application from NeoWorx. The product was renamed Visual Trace and integrated into McAfee's firewall offering shortly thereafter.

Although McAfee has not yet said whether it will pursue licensing agreements from other software vendors, the patent is likely to put pressure on rivals such as Symantec and Zone Labs. Most firewall applications provide traceroute capabilities, with some including visual maps to aid users.

In 2001, the USPTO granted McAfee an unusually broad patent regarding automatic updating and self-installation of software. At the time, McAfee said anyone "willfully flaunting the technology" would face legal action.

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