GuardianBox GB 100 review

Price when reviewed

The GuardianBox range from Scottish company Bridge Broadband Services Ltd comprises three models, which aim to deliver a complete UTM (unified threat management) solution via plug-and-go appliances. In an exclusive review, we took a look at the top-of-the-range GB 100, which targets SMEs with up to 100 users.

GuardianBox GB 100 review

The GB 100 provides a standard SPI firewall, two-layer anti-virus scanning of POP3 traffic courtesy of ClamAV and F-Prot, anti-spam measures via SpamAssassin, web content filtering from DansGuardian and web caching. With a Linux kernel at its heart, the GB 100’s installation follows the well-trodden path of connecting the green port to the LAN and the red port to the WAN. DHCP services are provided, so you just point a web browser at the appliance’s IP address, where you’ll be greeted with a basic management interface. The setup page allows you to configure the LAN and WAN interfaces, and the only option available for the firewall is to create port-forwarding rules. You have good control over the content filtering, as you can create lists of IP addresses that are to be blocked from the Web or allowed full access. DansGuardian uses a weighting score to determine whether web-page content is undesirable, and this can be modified to suit.

SpamAssassin is configured only to add subject tags to suspect emails, so you’ll require an internal method of handling marked messages. We tested this in a live environment over three days and initially found performance to be below average. Over 60 per cent of spam was allowed through. We discussed this with Bridge Broadband and it applied a new rule set, after which SpamAssassin’s performance improved dramatically. However, it then started tagging some genuine messages, so there was more work for the company to do in customising the software. Anti-virus signature updates are carried out transparently, and these two components are configured simply to delete any infected messages and send an advisory message to the recipient.

Web traffic and browsing habits are monitored back at HQ by Bridge Broadband, which advised us it will alert customers to any suspicious behaviour. Also included in the subscription is an option for the company to set up the GuardianBox to prioritise specific traffic types, such as VoIP, on request. Local traffic statistics are also available, with three graphs showing the web cache performance. A remote support and management portal provides far greater insight into general activity. Here, graphs show users’ web activity, sites visited and file types downloaded. However, this portal information is only updated once a day, so you can’t view usage in real-time. The anti-spam component can be modified from here, but only to the extent of creating white lists of email addresses and domains.

The GuardianBox GB 100 is a novel hybrid of managed service and security appliance, although if you want total control over each messaging and web content security component, it isn’t for you. The anti-spam component needs to be tightened up, but overall monthly subscription costs are low. The GB 100 is worth considering if your support staff are already overworked and you don’t want to increase their burden.

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