Sophos XG Firewall
Strengths: Very creative convergence of a lot of solid functionality. Documentation is presented in a novel way on the web portal. Rather than a manual as such, there is a large collection of very focused articles and lots of instructions and community discussions.
Weaknesses: None that we saw.
Verdict: This demands your attention no matter what size your organisation. There are models to cover most requirements.
This product is a UTM that bills itself as a next-generation firewall. This was one that rather took us aback because we don't tend to think of UTMs as firewalls. However, the argument is that a UTM really has a lot of traditional firewall functionality. So, if we add the next-generation functionality, the characterisation makes sense. The functionality in this UTM includes, among other things, firewall, IPS, application security, wireless gateway and advanced threat protection.
We dropped into the landing page, what Sophos calls the Control Center, and got the usual top-level dashboard. From here there are extensive drill-downs. One particular feature that we liked was the User & Device Insight. This is a top-level view of a device being monitored. It gives a lot of detail about the device, including the Security Heartbeat. As one would expect, the Sophos anti-malware legacy shows up extensively with just about any type of malware identified and addressed.
This is a unique function that lets the endpoint communicate directly with the tool - resulting in a lot of endpoint information being sent for analysis. This includes analysis of suspicious files in the Sophos cloud-based sandbox, called Sandstorm. Sandstorm can simulate activity for a delay of up to six months for delayed detonation malware. This is more than just a passive look at the endpoint. There is an active ability to block an endpoint from connecting to the network, if it is infected or compromised, until it can be remediated.
The User Threat Quotient - UTQ - identifies high-risk users based on their activities, such as suspicious file downloads. Setting rules is straightforward and the firewall rules look exactly as you would expect, which simplifies management for experienced engineers who are seeing what they expect to see. Editing rules is easy, consisting mostly of making selections from a menu page. However, if your selection is not there, you certainly can add your own.
Policies are equally easy to work with. You start with a default policy and build on that. On top of the LANBridge interface policy, you can define physical ports for the WAN side of the device. You also can define network zones. Taken together, these specifications define the networking policy.
Reporting is a strong suite for XG Firewall. There are over 1000 reports available out of the box. Overall, we found this to be a useful tool. If you are a Sophos shop, reporting can aggregate across Cyberoam, XG and UTM 9 devices into a single report, a winning feature. Like the UTQ, the App Risk Analysis identifies high-risk applications. There is extensive auditing so compliance issues are kept at a minimum.
Pricing on this product is very reasonable and there are multiple levels of support. There is a basic level of support at no cost during the first 90 days to cover the deployment period. After that there are two additional levels of fee-based support. The website has a good assistance portal that includes such things as a knowledge base and an FAQ. There also are forums along with some self-help guides.
So, next-generation firewalls as UTMs? We believe there is a very good case to be made for that. Time will tell, of course, but this is a marketspace that is characterised by convergence.