Network Box RM 300 review

Price when reviewed

Understaffed and overworked support departments are increasingly finding managed services a boon. They’re an ideal solution for offloading much of the daily drudgery of maintaining network security. And the Network Box takes this a stage further. Its combination of local appliance and hosted services provides a complete umbrella covering everything from anti-virus and firewalling to web-content filtering, intrusion detection and prevention plus VPNs.

Network Box RM 300 review

The appliances are tailor-made and the RM 300 targets mid-sized businesses with a large user base. It comes with four network ports providing LAN, WAN and DMZ connections, while the fourth offers a backup WAN link, dual WAN links with load balancing or a second DMZ. Implemented either as a transparent gateway or router, the appliances have no installation issues as setup is performed on-site by Network Box.

All management and monitoring is handled locally by the appliance, which delivers a secure and extremely detailed web-browser interface. The main page provides a complete overview of hardware operations along with network traffic, plus graphs and tables of virus and intrusion-attempt activity. There’s even a news feed and an alert indicator showing which defence condition status the appliance is at.

The interface provides buttons alongside and a menu above for easy access to each function. For virus protection, the appliance uses three scanning engines: Kaspersky Labs, Clam Antivirus and Network Box’s own proprietary scanner. The appliance maintains a quarantine area for suspect messages, which can be viewed by the administrator and released if safe. VPN setup doesn’t get any easier, as you simply tell the company what site-to-site tunnels you want and it will set them up for you. For mobile-client VPNs, you provide the client software, but assistance will be offered for most popular products.

Spam is dealt with by a combination of Bayesian filters, signature sets, lexical analysis and the use of about 30 common RBLs. An unusual feature is an auto white listing, which uses a challenge/response system where senders are asked to verify their authenticity before their messages are passed on. Network Box advised us that this is only used during the first couple of weeks after installation, as spammers are unlikely to respond to these checks. SurfControl looks after web-content filtering, with the database maintained on the appliance for improved responses to client requests. You can create your own filters and apply schedules, and SurfControl can also be applied to email content.

Firewall activity is handled by various policies that are created by Network Box according to customer specifications. From the Firewall tab, you can view existing policies, but can’t modify them or create new ones.

Reporting is another strong feature, as the appliance provides detailed information about all inbound and outbound email, blocked websites and the offenders, viral and intrusion activity, as well as full details on all traffic. You don’t even have to worry about signature and database updates, as these are pushed to the appliance as soon as they’re available.

There’s a wide choice of managed security services on the market today, but few cover as many angles as Network Box. If you’re looking to free up your support staff from these duties then this option is well worth investigating.

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