Strengths: Solid features with IPS capability
Weaknesses: The management console is awkward to use at first
Verdict: Lots of features make this one worth looking at closely as you select a NAC device
CounterACT is an out-of-band, agentless network access control device that accesses network devices by using service level authentication credentials to scan against the assigned policies put in place by the network administrator. It can also use either a persistent or dissolvable agent to manage and scan guest devices on the network.
Setup and initial configuration were straightforward. Once the appliance was connected to the network and booted, we had to configure a couple of parameters via a console connection and then we were able to connect to it via the management application and run the setup wizard. This wizard quickly guided us through the general network setup, including LDAP and switch configurations.
After initial setup is complete, management is done using the management console application. This was slightly overwhelming and awkward to use at first, but after browsing around it a little while it became easier to use.
While the management of the appliance is quite tricky at first, CounterACT has a lot to offer on the performance side. The appliance features a solid policy engine and administrators can automate a lot of the policy tasks for simplicity and ease of use. It features a full-scale IPS policy that can isolate hosts and prevent them from scanning or attacking the network from inside.
A PDF installation and a console user guide were supplied. The installation guide provided in-depth instructions for both the appliance and the management console application.
The console user guide illustrated how to set up and manage the appliance through the console, as well as advanced configuration tasks. Both guides included many screenshots, step-by-step instructions and configuration examples.
ForeScout provides two levels of support as part of a maintenance contract. Standard support is available 8/5 and the advanced support package is 24/7. These include phone and email-based technical support, as well as access to an online knowledgebase and support area.
At a price coming in at just over c£3,000, this product is good value for the money. The CounterACT appliance provides a lot of control features, with some extra capability, at a fairly low price.