eSoft InstaGate 404e review

Price when reviewed

Representing the entry point of eSoft’s InstaGate security appliances, the 404e offers an interesting mixture of security measures that can be easily tailored to suit. Aimed squarely at the SMB, the 404e is restricted to a maximum of 25 users and the base configuration provides standard firewall and IPsec VPN functions.

eSoft InstaGate 404e review

Where you go from here is up to you, as eSoft offers different ThreatPaks allowing you to customise the appliance. The Web ThreatPak provides web content filtering, protection from spyware and phishing sites, gateway antivirus, IPS, antispyware, and IM and P2P app controls. The Email ThreatPak deploys message content filtering, more virus scanning, antispam and mail quarantining.

It’s worth noting that eSoft doesn’t rely on third-party vendors to provide different security features, since it has developed all its own solutions. This is clearly reflected in the price of each feature, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re less worthy, as during testing we found them anything but. The web content filtering is very efficient and eSoft’s virus scanner can, for example, peer into nested archives – something many competitors can’t do.

Quarantining is very unusual at this price point, as the appliance has an internal 40GB IDE hard disk that it also uses to facilitate web proxy caching. Another rarity is eSoft’s mail server mirroring feature, which will prove handy if you’re using an external ISP, as the appliance can download mail from selected POP3 accounts to its hard disk and scan them. You configure users on the appliance, add their ISP mail account details, and reconfigure their mail client to download their mail directly from the appliance.

Installation is handled deftly by a Quick Start wizard, and any extra ThreatPaks are downloaded during this phase along with regular updates to the various security scanners. With both ThreatPaks included on the review system we were faced with a veritable cornucopia of security features, but the well-designed web interface made for easy access to each one. Web content filtering is accessed from the web proxy, where you can pick and choose from more than 50 URL categories and use policies and schedules to decide when each one is active.

Opt for user authentication instead of the transparent proxy and you’ll be able to apply policies to local or AD users and groups. Content filtering is a local affair, so eSoft’s own URL database needs to be downloaded to the appliance. During testing we found it to be very effective, as our attempts to visit 60 online bingo sites with the games and gambling categories blocked were all rebuffed.

The gateway antivirus component scans SMTP, FTP and HTTP traffic, but not yet HTTPS. For mail security eSoft’s own antispam measures combine features such as heuristic analysis, Bayesian filters and black and white lists. The Bayesian filter has an automatic spam learning mode and staff can get in on the act as an Outlook plug-in allows them to add more spam information to the appliance’s database. The Email ThreatPak adds message content filtering and now includes pre-defined keywords for credit card and banking details.

For an SMB security appliance the InstaGate 404e delivers a remarkable range of sophisticated features. The two ThreatPaks allow it to be customised to suit, and these are also offered at very tempting prices as well. (Note: you can now contact eSoft’s sales team via +44 (0) 203 355 3160.)

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos