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SonicWALL licensing snafu short-circuits protection

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SonicWALL has apologised for a license server outage that left some customers without firewall or email filtering protection for hours yesterday.

The snafu affected enterise users of SonicWALL UTM Firewall, Email Security, Content Security appliances and meant that content filter, intrusion prevention and antivirus protection for some of its users were temporarily "switched off" because of reset license keys that were treated as invalid.

"Beginning 12/2/2008 approximately 2:00 AM Pacific time, some SonicWALL products contacting a particular SonicWALL licensing server began receiving erroneous responses. This issue may have caused the products' license keys to be reset, and in some cases may have affected the products' operation," SonicWALL said in a statement on its site.

"The issue has been corrected and all servers and licensing functions have been restored," it added.

The security firm has posted instructions on how to resynchronise affected systems with licensing servers.

SonicWALL is a well-regarded mid-range firewall vendor that competes with the likes of Fortinet (most directly), as well as Cisco and Juniper. It's unclear how many of its customers were affected by Tuesday's snafu, which was serious and of a type we've seldom encountered before.

False positives for Windows Genuine Advantage left users unable to download updates from the software giant last year. Two years ago a renewals affected Symantec shops. But both these pale in comparison to the effects of Tuesday's SonicWALL SNAFU, which left some users suddenly stranded without protection.

The issue was brought to our attention by Reg Rip who reports that the licensing server woes left some firewall users exposed for up to 12 hours on Tuesday. Computerworld adds that SonicWALL's customer support section has filed up with adverse comments about the issue, particularly from a shop reportedly flooded with a deluge of spam and malware as a result of the glitch. SonicWALL offered manual workarounds during the incident but it seems these were far from universally effective. ®

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