Tactical Advice

WatchGuard XTM 530

Security appliance prevents intrusion, filters content and blocks unsafe browsing in a single device.
This story appears in the September 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

The WatchGuard XTM 530 unified threat management device aims to protect small and midsize organizations with up to 1,500 users against a wide variety of threats. The high-speed firewall can handle bandwidths of up to 800 megabits per second with all the security features enabled, or up to 2.3 gigabits per second acting as just a firewall. But the appliance does a lot more.

Advantages

IT can configure the XTM 530 to guard against viruses and other malware, perform intrusion detection and prevention, block specified web pages and high-risk activities such as public instant messaging or peer-to-peer traffic, and perform URL filtering. The appliance executes deep and stateful packet inspection down to the application layer.

The XTM 530 sports an easy-to-use and intuitive management interface and is highly configurable. It has seven 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, any of which can be configured individually (although the normal configuration is to set ETH0 as the connection to the outside world). IT can also set the device to support remote and mobile users with a Secure Sockets Layer VPN.

Why It Works for IT

WatchGuard’s 5-series UTM appliances are targeted at small and midsize organizations and are designed to be easily managed by a thinly staffed IT department. The XTM 530 requires a fairly short learning curve and does not require any special training beyond a working knowledge of enterprise security.

Equally important, the XTM 530 can be made to fit into an existing enterprise and can be configured so that it works without changing the way the organization operates. Like the other devices in its class from WatchGuard, it can be clustered for scalable operations and failover. It features both a web-based graphical user interface and a scriptable command-line interface, which lets you set up and manage the device in ways compatible with your operation.

This 1U device is also designed to handle all types of legitimate network traffic, meaning it can block personal Voice over IP services such as Skype, while allowing corporate VoIP to pass through unimpeded.

Disadvantages

75

Number of VLAN connections supported by WatchGuard XTM 5-series devices

The XTM 5-series devices require an annual subscription renewal that can cost as much as one-third of the initial purchase price, so users need to budget for this expense.

At the time of this review, the quick setup guide did not accurately reflect the actual setup process. Untrained users will probably not be able to install this. In addition, WatchGuard’s support policies don’t include help with deployment as a standard feature. However, most resellers can provide setup, and WatchGuard will perform remote setup for an extra fee.

Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers.
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