SmoothWall Guardian SWG-1208 review

SmoothWall aims for the enterprise with a content security appliance that packs a mighty punch in the hardware department. We review the Guardian SWG-1208 to see how well it performs.

Price
£4,400

UK-based SmoothWall has always kept its options open for network security as it offers both software and appliance-based versions of its products. The latest SWG-1208 provides the same features as SmoothWall's Network Guardian software but is delivered ready to go as a rack mount appliance.

This signals a move by SmoothWall into the enterprise space and it touts the SWG-1208 as its most powerful appliance yet. No claimed throughput figures are quoted by the company, but a glance at the excellent hardware spec should be enough to confirm its credentials.

Along with a Q9400 Core 2 Quad processor and 4GB of DDR3 memory the appliance currently offers four active Gigabit ports that can take on a number of functions. Ports can be members of zones allowing you to enforce policies for all Internet usage but also create separate bridging rules containing policies that control traffic passing between different zones.

The appliance also supports a basic bridging mode which brings ports three and four together allowing you to drop the appliance straight into your network. For testing we used this mode and had no problems placing it between our LAN and firewall. The remaining ports can still be used and we also opted to place all management access on a different subnet via the first port.

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We're not great fans of SmoothWall's web interface design as it's not that intuitive making for a steep learning curve. The various functions are all accessed via a row of headings at the top and we found it's not immediately obvious where many of them are located.

Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, you'll find the SWG-1208 offers a very impressive range of security measures. For web filtering the appliance can work in transparent mode which doesn't require any client configuration.

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