The invention is a software upgradable network access control system which is preferably resident within a host computer. Preferably, the network access control card is operatively coupled to an expansion card resident within the host computer. In operation, the network access control system controls the flow of data packets to and from a host computer to a network. The host computer may be networked to a network device located on a trusted private network or on an untrusted network. The network access control system includes a dedicated processor, support memory, a first network connection and a second network connection. Preferably, a housing is provided for the network access control system so that it is received by an expansion slot within the host computer. The memory stores an operating system and a set of rules which controls a plurality of data packets which are communicated to and from the network access control system. The data packets communicated to and from the network access control system are controlled by accepting, denying or rejecting data packets. The processor compares received data packets with the set of rules which accept, deny or reject data packets. The first network connection within the housing is configured to enable communications from the processor to the host computer. The second network connection enables communications with a networked device operating in the trusted private network or the untrusted network. Each network access control system may be configured with a different set of rules.
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