Cisco Spam and Virus Blocker
Strengths: Great set of features and admin capabilities for small businesses
Weaknesses: Dashboard is not customisable, documentation a bit light
Verdict: Impressive value for the money, in terms of both features and price point
Cisco's Spam and Virus Blocker is a single hardware appliance device for small businesses and can support up to 250 users. It acts as an email gateway and message transfer agent, typically deployed between the internet edge and the email server. The appliance secures email using anti-malware, anti-spam (sender and domain reputation) and content filtering.
Configuration is done remotely via a web interface. The setup was fairly easy and straightforward. The quick-start guide provided was useful and we were able to connect to the administrative interface and implement key features speedily.
The interface for the device is professional looking. One interesting item is that all the options on the web interface are driven from tabs positioned at the top of the page. Changing views and navigating content are not done from the left side. When it came to viewing information on the system dashboard, we had to navigate back to the dropdowns and choose a different view, since the dashboard views are not customisable. Apart from this, the device has all the features we would expect. Reputation-based validation, anti-malware, LDAP integration, content filtering using dictionaries as well as smart identifiers (social security, credit card numbers etc) were all part of the solution. It took us a while to realise that dictionary files need to be loaded one by one from a separate directory. There are hundreds of industry and compliance-related keywords that the device can use for filtering.
The administrative features on the device are enterprise-class. Buyers should be aware that it is marketed to a smaller user-base and does not contain a backup mechanism or redundancy.
The online help file seemed a bit light on content. However, it should provide adequate direction for administrators.
No-cost 24/7 phone and email support is included with the product. This covers warranty on the hardware and updates to the software. The Cisco support website is top notch.
This is an impressive device as an entry point into the small business market. Smaller organisations with the budget and need for granular security options will appreciate the full-featured, enterprise-class nature of the product, as well as the support.