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.

We found SmoothZap a mean performer as we used its transparent POP3 proxy to scan live email for 10 days. We wanted all spam to be allowed through but tagged and used Outlook rules to move them to separate folders. With the scoring left on defaults we calculated a 97 per cent success rate.

You may need to tweak the scoring, though, as 11 per cent of messages tagged as spam were found to be false positives. The quarantine area will help as messages moved to the appliance's mirrored hard disks can be viewed by permitted users and released if necessary. Users receive a daily digest of their quarantine area by email, including a link to it.

IM traffic is on SmoothWall's radar and the SmoothIM module proxies this on selected network interfaces. It is capable of scanning messages and conversations for unacceptable content and replacing it with specific words. SSL encrypted chats such as Google Talk and AIM are also on the hit-list as the SSL Intercept feature keeps any eye on these.

Reporting is very detailed with appliance providing charts and graphs on areas such as top blocked web sites and the most popular plus the users visiting them. Trends of browsing habits can be viewed and the results of all reports exported in CSV, PDF and Excel formats.

Some security appliance vendors think they can get away with palming you off with museum-grade hardware but the SWG-1208 stands out for its superb specification. SmoothWall's dynamic content analysis worked extremely well during testing as did the SmoothZap anti-spam module. And the whole package is offered at a very reasonable price.

Verdict

The SWG-1208 delivers an extensive range of content security measures with SmoothWall’s dynamic content analysis a powerful ally. Anti-spam performance for the optional SmoothZap module is good and the appliance provides plenty of controls for IM apps plus HTTPS scanning as standard. All in all, the complete package represents comparatively good value.

Chassis: 1U rack chassis CPU: 2.66GHz Intel Q9400 Core 2 Quad Memory: 4GB DDR3 Storage: 2 x 500GB Western Digital SATA hard disks RAID: Drives preconfigured as RAID-1 mirror Network: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet Management: Web browser

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