Secure your network

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

Sub-$1000 UTM appliances

All of the UTM appliances listed below provide the basics--a business-class VPN firewall router with antivirus and antispyware protection, intrusion detection, content filtering, and monitoring tools--and many have additional areas of special strength or extra features. Most bundle an initial one-year subscription for antivirus and antispyware updates. Recommended network capacities range from 8 to 25 users, but all of these vendors offer higher-end models for larger businesses as well.

The entry level SonicWall TZ 180, Fortinet FortiGate-50B, and D-Link NetDefend DFL-CPG310 cost less than US$500 and can be set up by a non-IT professional. Even so, it's a good idea to hire a security expert, if possible, to set things up properly. A network is only as secure as its weakest point, which usually isn't the router.

Moving up the UTM scale, the Check Point UTM-1 Edge Appliance, the Secure Computing SnapGear SG580, and the ZyXel ZyWall 5 UTM cost around US$500 to $700; and the Calyptix AccessEnforcer AE500, the eSoft InstaGate 404e, and the Juniper Networks Secure Services Gateway 5 run all the way up to US$1000. The extra money pays for enterprise-class features, more software options (for which you'll need to buy annual renewals), and the ability to scale up to more users without buying new hardware. The InstaGate 404e, for example, offers modular e-mail and Web "ThreatPaks" that cover far more than basic antivirus tools do, while the Juniper SSG5 amounts to a branch-office version of the company's enterprise security system.

Becky Waring is a US-based technology writer who specializes in networking, mobility, and multimedia topics.

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