SonicWALL ES 300 review
SonicWALL delivers a slick message-security appliance that offers a range of anti-virus and anti-spam measures.
Review Date: 14 Mar 2007
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: exc VAT
SonicWALL has been busy diversifying of late, and it now moves into the email security market with six new appliances. The ES 300 targets SMBs with up to 250 users, and aims to offer an easily deployed security solution that delivers dual-layer anti-virus measures, protection against spam and phishing, plus compliance enforcement.
All the family members apart from the enterprise-level ES 8000 use the same combo of Supermicro mini-chassis and motherboard. Two Gigabit ports are provided, but one is blocked off, as the appliance is designed to sit between your firewall and mail server, where you reconfigure your MX record or use a firewall rule to forward port 25 traffic to the appliance.
The ES appliances are all a result of SonicWALL's acquisition of MailFrontier in 2006, and a glance at our review of the m1000 shows that the new owner hasn't changed the web interface or functionality at all. And it doesn't need to, as the m1000 impressed enough for it to receive a Recommended award. At the time, its anti-fraud capabilities put it ahead of the game, as it tackled the problem of phishing well before many other vendors reacted to this threat.
A key feature is LDAP integration, which allows you to easily apply security policies on a per-user or group basis and manage administrative access to the appliance. LDAP server details are provided during initial configuration and these can be Active Directory, an email server or a user-defined server. Either way, once it's working, it will return lists of users and email distribution lists to the appliance. Junk boxes are also provided for storing blocked mail, and LDAP can be used to authorise access to these for specified users.
The tidy web interface provides plenty of status information from a dashboard of graphs showing all activity to the top recipients of spam. You also get an ROI calculator to show how much money the appliance is saving your company. When a suspect message is intercepted, the appliance only views it as a single threat. It puts directory harvest attacks at the top of its list, with viruses, policy-based actions, fraud and spam in that order of importance below.
Anti-virus measures are handled by Kaspersky and, if you want a two-pronged attack, McAfee as well. SonicWALL gets tough with spam by using a wide range of techniques, and you can choose from five settings. Actions against spam include permanently deleting them, tagging their subject lines or placing them in the recipient's junk box for later inspection. You get the same range of options for the anti-virus measures as well. Policies make the appliance very versatile, as filters can be applied to message content and attachment types. Multiple policies can be applied to different users, as well as inbound and outbound traffic. The appliance offers good reporting facilities, although we did find it was slow to update its statistics.
During testing, we found the ES 300 easy enough to deploy and were impressed by its ability to catch the bulk of spam with minimal initial configuration. Anti-virus subscriptions do increase the yearly outlay significantly, but this appliance still represents comparatively good value.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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