SmoothWall UTM-1000 review

Smoothwall’s latest all-in-one security appliance is a top performer but not so easy to install and configure.

For IM apps you can enable the appliance to proxy this traffic on specific interfaces where it can block file transfers. Smoothwall's Message Censor can also be configured with rules to look for inappropriate content and words in IM messages and replace them.

Smoothwall offers both transparent and non-transparent modes for web filtering but client systems must be configured to use the appliance as a proxy regardless of your choice. If you want to apply user authentication and rule based access policies then non-transparent mode in the one to go for. With this in action you can pick and choose from the appliance's local user and group database or external RADIUS, AD and LDAP servers.

The MailShell anti-spam feature proved to be extremely effective and we tested this over a seven day period where it scanned live email coming into the lab. We asked it to tag any dodgy messages so we could use rules in our Outlook mail client to move them to a separate folder. At the end of the test we found MailShell had scored a perfect 100 per cent success rate as nothing slipped through its net, whilst false positives were down at only three per cent.

For web content filtering you can create various access policies and apply them either to different groups of users, or for everyone and use time schedules to determine when they are active. Guardian is very versatile as it offers 24 main URL categories, under which are a further 72 sub-categories. Guardian also supports phrase checking within web page content but we did find that general policy creation wasn't easy and the proxy had to be restarted every time we made any changes.

Nevertheless, Guardian performed well during testing as all our attempts to visit online gambling sites were firmly blocked using the preconfigured content filtering policies. Social networking sites are now a major concern for businesses and we were able to create a new policy for these, which blocked access to sites such as MySpace and Facebook. A safe search option is also provided where the results of web searches will be checked and access blocked where appropriate.

The SmoothGuard 1000-UTM delivers a choice selection of security measures for the price all packaged into a well specified appliance. We weren't impressed with problems experienced during installation and found the web interface unintuitive but Smoothwall certainly made up for this with a fine performance in our web filtering and anti-spam tests.

Verdict

We found the SmoothGuard could be frustrating during deployment and configuration but capable of delivering excellent results for anti-spam and web filtering. It looks good value as well with a wide range of security features for the price.

Chassis: 1U rack chassis CPU: 2.12GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Memory: 2GB 667MHz DDR2 Storage: 120GB Hitachi 2.5in SFF SATA hard disk Network: 7 x Gigabit Ethernet Management: Web browser

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