Netgear has always had a keen focus on network security for smaller businesses and its ProSecure UTM range of appliances delivers plug-and-play protection at a low price.
The appliances provide the full gamut of security services and include an SPI firewall, IPS, anti-virus, anti-spam, URL category filtering, IM and P2P controls - plus support for IPsec and SSL VPNs. The top-of-the-range UTM25 on review also provides dual WAN ports for failover.
The model name refers to the suggested number of supported users, with Netgear stating that the UTM25 is good for up to 30. The UTM appliances have no restrictions on the maximum number of users.
The UTM25 offers four Gigabit LAN ports, with the fourth also providing DMZ duties if required. The pair of WAN ports supports a wide range of address assignments, allowing you to mix different internet connection types and use both in a load balanced team or to keep the second back for failover.
The appliance functions as a transparent gateway, so deployment is a piece of cake.
The web interface is basic but intuitive and offers a quick-start wizard to help with LAN, WAN and security services configuration. You can add up to 800 of your own custom rules and apply QoS and bandwidth restriction profiles.
Netgear's security guest list has some big names on it, with Sophos stepping up for AV, Commtouch handling web filtering and Mailshell looking after anti-spam. Netgear's unique stream-scanning technology is also implemented. This scans and analyses traffic as it starts entering the network and uses a multi-threaded approach to provide close to real-time scanning.
AV scanning can be applied to SMTP, POP3 and IMAP protocols and all signature and database updates are automated, with checks as often as every 15 minutes. Along with HTTP and FTP traffic, the appliance also scans HTTPS as standard, making the UTM25 even better value.
For anti-spam, you have black and white lists, RBLs and Mailshell's spam analysis. For SMTP, you can tag, block or log spam messages. Infected mail attachments can be stripped out.
Anti-spam is particularly good. We left the appliance scanning live email for a week and saw a 97 per cent success rate, with only 12 false positives.
Web content filtering is equally tough and to test this we blocked games and gambling categories. The appliance prevented access to every one of the 50 sites visited.
The UTM25 also barred access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. A handy lookup tool lets you enter a URL and find the category it has been placed in. IM and P2P app controls are basic, but we were able to stop users logging in with Windows Messenger and Live. BitTorrent apps were also stopped from working - the Vuze app twiddled its thumbs, unable to log on.
The appliance provides a good selection of monitoring tools, with a dashboard keeping you posted on all suspicious activities, detected spam and blocked websites, along with top threats and the most blocked sites. Generation is very slow, but the appliance can store up to five reports for selected periods.
SSL VPN support adds even more value, but this is the only service that requires an extra licence if you want more than two tunnels. The UTM25 can handle up to 13 SSL VPN tunnels and offers a range of authentication, including a local user database and Radius, LDAP and AD support.
A wizard helps set up custom SSL VPN portals and users, but it's worth getting your LAN service objects set up first, as you'll need these when it comes to declaring what resources remote users can access. For each connection you can select port forwarding or Netgear's virtual adapter. When the session is closed, a cache cleaner pops in to clear out any traces of access on the remote system.
For the price, Netgear is offering small businesses a bumper bundle of essential network security services. The UTM25 is very simple to install, offers a powerful partnership of AV, anti-spam and web filtering and delivers in the performance stakes.