Clearswift makes a clean sweep of Web threats

MIMEsweeper Web Appliance offers solid, plug-and-play protection against Internet malware and data leaks

Mitigating network-borne threats has been an imperative to companies of all sizes and statures. As if malware and viral infestation weren't enough, today's corporations must contend with even bigger bugs, including regulatory compliance, information leaks, and intellectual property theft.

I recently garnered an exclusive look at the new Clearswift MIMEsweeper Web Appliance ENW10, an inline filtering device that locks down all Web communications including e-mail and FTP, and I was pleasantly impressed with the results. The MIMEsweeper appliance is a Dell PowerEdge 1950 server packed with virus protection (courtesy of Kaspersky Labs), a spyware sniffer (from Aluria/EarthLink), and a link blocker based on a URL database from an OEM that Clearswift declines to reveal. The appliance plugs into your network with very little effort and begins protecting straightaway.

In tests, MIMEsweeper did a reliable job of trapping spyware, viruses, and keywords and phrases thrown at it -- even viruses buried inside Microsoft Office attachments. In addition to sniffing through Office docs, this appliance can peek inside PDFs, compressed archives, and executables, as well as a variety of multimedia files, to expose the hidden bits running through your network with suspicious and potentially malicious intent. The set-it-and-forget-it updating scheme will help technically challenged SMBs justify the price, considering the appliance exacts a nearly 37 percent premium over the cost of Clearswift's comparable software-only configuration.

On the downside, unlike competing solutions from Secure Computing and Blue Coat Systems, this unit cannot scan HTTPS content streams. SSL-encrypted content and Web sites will pass through MIMEsweeper unexamined.

Further, unlike SurfControl, which offers a client-side agent that integrates with its Web security appliance, MIMEsweeper does nothing to protect against leaks of sensitive content while mobile users are on the road.

Nevertheless, what MIMEsweeper sets out to accomplish it does well. It provides solid defenses and good reporting, keeps management overhead to a minimum, and boasts features such as lexical pattern matching and LDAP support for user authentication that will bolster its appeal to larger enterprises.

Drop and block

The MIMEsweeper appliance sports two dual-core Xeon 5160 processors, dual gigabit NICs, 2GB of RAM, and a RAID 1 storage configuration using two 250GB SATA drives. The hardened Linux core supports 2,500 users, on average, according to the company, and it can be configured as a direct proxy or mounted transparently within your network routing.

Installing MIMEsweeper in the test network was a snap. Basic settings such as network configuration and passwords are handled quickly by a wizard interface. Installing the online update to the new 1.1 release was also painless, and MIMEsweeper maintains partitions between new and previous versions to accommodate rollbacks if necessary.

Further, although customizing policies is typically an arduous, time-consuming process, MIMEsweeper's straightforward interface made easy work of building up rules and defining roles and machines for policy inclusion. There's just no easy way around the development curve, but I found the Web interface surprisingly easy to use.

Newly added lexical search expressions allow you to sift e-mails and attachments for specific words and phrases. Boolean operators, regular expressions, and contextual awareness operators (before, after, with, etc.) can all be combined into tightly tailored scanning algorithms.

A notable omission is the absence of policy scheduling, though a number of nice features rounds out the offering, including policy/rule dependency tracking and customizable "404" screens that can be outfitted with your own corporate stylings and messages that alert users to policy violations.

Multiple MIMEsweeper appliances can be peered for scalability, and you can push policies uniformly through centralized administration, but comprehensive load balancing and centralized reporting are still absent. Both would be welcome additions.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James R. Borck

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?