Israeli security company Yoggie has come up with an intriguing new direction for its portable firewall platform - let open source developers create the applications that run on it.

The company already sells a range of USB and PC Card firewalls for laptops under the Gatekeeper brand, but has taken the decision to introduce two new versions of the hardware, the Open Firewall Pico, and the Open Firewall Soho.

These are physically identical to the Pico and Gatekeeper products already sold by the company, and both run on a Linux kernel, but are shorn of most of the security applications normally bundled with them. That means that the Yoggie stateful firewall is still present, but extras such as anti-virus, anti-spam, intrusion detection and web proxies are missing.

The advantage, however, is that third-party developers can now access the internal Linux command line interface to gain control over the device, and can use a free SDK also being released by Yoggie to develop their own applications.

Another plus is that because the Yoggie platform works under Windows XP, Vista and the Mac without the need for new drivers beyond those coded by Yoggie itself, third-parties would be spared the difficulty of getting security applications to integrate with Windows as they would be compelled to do for a software firewall.

According to Yoggie founder and CEO Shlomo Touboul, third-party applications to run on the devices could appear in a matter of weeks. "Limited only by their imagination, developers can add incredible extensions and applications to produce enhanced solutions for PC security, management, backup and content sharing," he said.

Customers of the Open Firewall Pico and Open Firewall Soho would be able to access such applications through a special developer portal on Yoggie's website. The company is also making available the SDK, hardware drivers, and utilities such as the SSH client PuTTy and the file manager, WinSCP, to aid what it hopes will turn into a thriving community.

The Open Firewall Pico is available for $49, and the Open Firewall Soho for $79, both three-month introductory prices (normal pricing is $69 and 99, respectively), cheaper than buying the ‘closed source' standard products with security included.