Secure your network

Enterprise-grade security technologies such as unified threat management appliances are trickling down to the small-business level

Content and keyword filtering

With content and keyword filtering, you can block access to specific IP addresses, domains, and URLs by invoking the vendor's database of inappropriate Web sites and keywords in various categories, as well as by adding or subtracting your own. Content filtering isn't just for porn. You could block Web mail sites, for example, or video-streaming services. You can use filtering on outgoing data as well as incoming data, so you could prevent people within your network from sending explicit e-mail or instant messages. Check to confirm that the UTM appliances you're considering have the content-filtering capabilities you need.

Spam filtering

A few UTM appliances have antispam filters, but most offer it only as an extra-cost option (if at all). Because spam filtering can have a major effect on firewall throughput, many IT experts prefer to use a separate spam filter at the mail server. Your ISP probably can perform this task at little or no extra charge if you use its e-mail services. If you run your own e-mail server behind your firewall, UTM appliance-based spam filtering may be appropriate.

Intrusion detection and prevention

Intrusion detection goes beyond the simple packet header inspection that all firewalls perform, actually examining the packets' contents as well. Together with deep-packet inspection, intrusion detection and prevention systems use ever-evolving rules and behavioral algorithms to block suspected attacks, much as antivirus software does.

Data-leakage prevention

Less commonly available--but important to some small businesses--is data-leakage prevention. "Data leakage" refers to the loss of proprietary information and documents from the network via e-mail, e-mail attachments, instant messaging, Web site uploads, and so on. Law and medical offices especially need to prevent transmittal of client or patient data; they can be sued if such information leaks out.

DLP software uses content filtering or simply blocks e-mail attachments and file transfers. You may be able to simulate DLP by using regular content and port filtering tools, but you'll need to anticipate some of the ways data can leak, and some expertise in security configuration is extremely valuable. A security consultant can be a big help here.

Gateway throughput

One of the first specs you'll see on any UTM appliance datasheet is firewall performance or throughput, expressed in mbps (megabits per second). These numbers can provide a rough guide to performance, but they may not factor in the impact of the UTM tools you use--from intrusion detection to antivirus to content filtering--which can reduce throughput by up to 50 per cent, though some gateways handle the hit better than others due to speedier processors or more efficient software. Antispam filters usually have the heaviest impact on throughput.

Most vendors have try-before-you-buy programs, so take advantage of these arrangements to ensure that the UTM appliance you ultimately select has the features you need and doesn't bog down under your network's loads. When you count the number of users on your network, remember to include peripheral network devices such as NASs, printers, and PDAs, since they may count toward the "recommended" user load.

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.

Becky Waring

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

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?