Barracuda Networks Spam and Virus Firewall 900 review

Barracuda’s Spam and Virus Firewall 900 claims an impressive anti-spam performance, but at a high price. In this exclusive review, Dave Mitchell finds out if its real world performance and messaging security features are worth digging deep for.

We left the appliance filtering live mail for nearly three weeks, where it handled over 6,250 inbound messages 1,447 of which were spam or carried an infected payload. Only 13 spam messages were missed, which equates to an impressive detection rate of 99.1%. The Barracuda returned a very low false positive detection rate too, with only four messages incorrectly identified as spam and seven out of 22 incorrectly labeled as possible spam.

Barracuda Networks Spam and Virus Firewall 900

The Energize Update subscription gives you free access to Barracuda's cloud based spam filtering service and the portal can be used to manage multiple systems.

Plenty more filtering features are provided, and custom content filters can be applied to inbound and outbound mail. A list of keywords and patterns can also be created and, if detected in the body, header, subject or attachment of a message, it can be blocked, tagged, whitelisted or quarantined.

For outbound mail, the filters can also be used to look out for business sensitive keywords and the appliance can then automatically encrypt the message before it leaves the building. Further checks can be applied to attachments, with options to look out for executable files, Microsoft Office documents and PDFs.

Barracuda Networks Spam and Virus Firewall 900

Keyword and pattern searches can be applied to the message body, subject and header for inbound and outbound mail.

It's also possible to automatically block or quarantine messages with password-protected archived file attachments, but the pattern matching lists for credit card and social security numbers are of limited use in the UK, since they're US-specific.

Anti-virus protection can also be extended to Microsoft Exchange servers, as Barracuda offers the necessary free agent, along with an Outlook plug-in that allows users to classify messages from their Desktop and request that selected outbound mail be encrypted.

Given the high total cost for three years' use, Barracuda's Spam and Virus Firewall 900 hardly represents fantastic value, but this does need to be balanced against the facts that it is very easy to deploy, offers an impressive range of message security functions and, above all else, delivers an impeccable real-world performance.

Verdict

Barracuda’s anti-spam appliances have always impressed us with their top-notch detection rates and the 900 model is no exception. It delivered a very high score out of the box in our real-world tests, and it was easy to deploy and configure. The hardware itself could be more up to date considering the price, but its performance and features can’t be faulted.

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2x 2.6GHz AMD Opteron 2435

Memory: 8GB DDR2

Storage: 4x 150GB WD Enterprise SATA II SFF, 4x 500GB Seagate Barracuda SATA II LFF

RAID controller: Areca ARC-1120 PCI-X card with 256MB cache/BBU

Array support: Two RAID-10 arrays preconfigured

Network: 2x Gigabit

Ports: 2x USB, VGA

Management: Web browser

Warranty: One-year standard replacement

Options: Three-year Energize updates, £27,749; 3-year instant replacement, £17,649 (all ex VAT)

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