Content Alarm NW 5.0
Strengths: Extremely accurate identification of sensitive material from databases etc
Weaknesses: Protects data in motion only over the network
Verdict: This product works best with its companion desktop version, but if you archive a lot of sensitive data, this is a solid performer over the network
Content Alarm NW is a network-based tool that inspects data as it passes through and performs appropriate actions in accordance with policies. The appliance acts as an in-line proxy with several additional modules. Some of these act as sensors, some crawl the network and identify sensitive data, while others act as alarms.
This offering from Tablus works by fingerprinting sensitive data and then inspecting all data leaving the network. The alarms notify the administrator of sensitive data being exfiltrated, while the ICAP server blocks it.
We had no trouble getting this device up and running. It sets up and configures much like any appliance, and we did not find it particularly difficult to deploy and configure in our test bed. It can handle most protocols, as well as email, but does not have the ability to manage peripheral devices such as thumb drives.
What sets Content Alarm NW apart is that it works best when it knows about sensitive content in advance. This approach, fundamentally different from packet inspection, allows a more efficient process and accuracy approaches 100 per cent.
The dashboard is clean and the various functions - policy management, dashboard, reports etc - are depicted on tabs, so the overall impression is of a nice, clean, easy-to-use interface. We found performance to be good and that, along with setup, proved to be a very pleasant surprise.
The documentation is well illustrated and user-friendly. Both administrator and user guides are provided as PDF files. The website contains a lot of additional support information in the resource library. Technical support is available to all customers during office hours at no additional charge. There are further support plans available, offering 24/7 support and even one that designates an individual support engineer.
With a basic price of £10,540, Content Alarm NW is about in the middle of the pack. However, for managing data in motion only over the network, this may be a bit pricey. Tablus also makes a companion product - Content Alarm DT - that provides full protection at the desktop. Together, these two products cover the entire landscape and add value to each other.