Cisco Small Business Pro SA 520 review
A very good range of security features including hosted anti-spam services but the SA 520 is tricky to manage and comparatively expensive.
Review Date: 5 Jul 2010
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £242 (£284 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Cisco’s latest Small Business Pro appliances aim to deliver a complete gateway security solution but with a twist. These appliances provide a complete range of security measures but Cisco has teamed up with Trend Micro to offer its optional ProtectLink endpoint protection, web filtering and anti-spam services.
The anti-spam component is unusual as this is a hosted service. The majority of solutions at this price point, such as the A-Listed Netgear ProSecure UTM5, function as transparent gateways and are much easier to deploy.
With the SA 520 you need to fiddle around with your MX record so all your email is rerouted to Trend’s InterScan hosting servers first where it’s filtered, cleaned up and then passed on to your internal mail server.
Basic features of the SA 520 include a standard SPI firewall and support for IPsec and SSL VPNs. IPS includes IM and P2P app controls but this is another optional extra which requires a separate license.
URL filtering and anti-spam come under the ProtectLink Gateway component and for the former you have a total of 83 categories. You can pick and choose which ones you want to block and use time periods to specify business and leisure hours.
Filtering performance wasn’t perfect as with the games and gambling categories blocked we got through to ten of the fifty online bingo sites visited. Social networkers will have a tougher time as with this category selected we were unable to get at nuisance sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
For IPS you have eleven policies for detecting and blocking commons attacks. IM and P2P app controls are basic as you have only four protocols for each type and can block or just log their usage.
The web page for anti-spam redirects you to the InterScan site where you log in to access the main portal. For each mail domain you can have one policy which contains multiple rules for managing spam, phishing and infected emails.
The portal provides some classy reporting tools plus mail traffic analysis and one feature you get that transparent gateways can’t offer is message quarantining. The InterScan servers handle this function and can send an email digest to users that have quarantined mail. You can also allow them to log in, view their own spam and delete or release selected messages.
Trend’s Worry-Free Business Security Hosted service handles desktop endpoint protection. Installation is swift as you email each user with a web link which downloads and installs an agent to their system. This provides local virus protection and you can use the portal to check on systems and run manual and scheduled scans.
Ticking a check box at the appliance applies a single policy which will block web access to any desktop without the agent. Endpoint protection adds an extra layer of security but this component does have a lot of unnecessary features as you also get a local firewall with IDS, web reputation filtering and options to scan inbound mail.
The SA 520 is a powerful security solution but it’s not so easy to deploy and configure. Furthermore, there are a lot of optional features and once you’ve added the cost of licensing them all it starts getting pricey making Netgear’s ProSecure UTM appliances less expensive and more easily managed alternatives.
Author: Dave Mitchell
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BT One Phone lets SMBs ditch landlines for mobiles
- Microsoft shows Modern apps running in desktop windows
- Apple and IBM buddy up for enterprise push
- Windows Phone 8.1 starts rolling out to Nokia phones
- Government broadband plans "lack ambition"
- SMBs get Office 365 price cuts, new plans
- Windows 7: you can keep it until 2020
- BlackBerry Passport's square for spreadsheets
- Microsoft to release six updates this Patch Tuesday
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Doing business in a social era
- How to configure SysLookup for your network
- The 18 best Outlook tips for increasing productivity: become an Outlook expert with these lesser-known tips
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Small server vs cloud: which is best for SMBs?
- The best mobile apps for business
- Windows XP: Microsoft’s ticking time bomb
- gTLDs: what your business should know about new domain names
- Can Microsoft survive? A look at servers and tools
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?