What is a UTM?
A UTM (Unified Threat Management) device is actually similar to a firewall, but it has certain additional features to protect your small business/home premises. For example, UTM comes with (optional) gateway level anti-virus for filtering virus laden mail attachments, URL filtering for blocking websites of certain categories, VPN for secure remote access, Intrusion prevention to prevent hackers, anti-malware functionalities to keep unwanted programs like spyware, away. All these security measures are applied at the network entry-point so that your systems inside the network are secure.
Does a small business need a UTM/Firewall?
Considering the amount of viruses and malware on the Internet these days, especially for windows based systems, it might be a good idea to buy a UTM appliance that can secure all threats at the place where it enters – The network perimeter.
Most people think that UTM devices are expensive and small businesses can’t afford them. This is true to a certain extent, as the basic device cost is low but subscription costs for various services (like anti-virus, anti-spyware, content filtering, etc) are quite high. Besides, these charges are recurring in nature and users need to renew them every year.
But, with the amount of protection (through continuous signature updates, etc) provided by them, it might be better to be safe than handle corrupted systems/data loss later on. Besides, many UTM companies have come up with specific models (with limited capacity) exclusively targeting small businesses. These models are quite inexpensive and offer all the security features/functionalities of the enterprise grade UTM’s.
Is there a difference between client based anti-virus/firewall and gateway based anti-virus/firewall?
Yes, they are different. The anti-virus products that you get in the market are mostly client based. So, they get installed in your PC and scan the PC regularly for any known threats. It’s the same with software firewall – Windows Firewall is built into the computer.
But gateway level anti-virus/firewall sits next to your Internet connection and blocks virus/malware and other security threats right at the gateway, before they actually reach your computer.
These two are sort of complimentary, because client based anti-virus is still required to scan external devices like USB pen-drives, etc connecting to your computer.
What is URL filtering?
Well, you don’t want to give access to all the websites to your employees, do you? With the content/URL filtering subscription module provided by the UTM, you can block certain websites based on their category. For example, you can block users in your office network from accessing all websites categorized as sports or porn. At the back-end, all new websites are categorized appropriately and continuously added to the list (by a team of personnel). That’s why there is a recurring yearly cost to this service.
What is VPN?
Many times, your users might want to access a computer/server inside your network from a remote location, over the Internet. A VPN module encrypts these communications so that data/files are secure and malware from external networks/Internet cannot get into your network easily. A VPN can be browser-based or client based (pre-installed on a PC).
If you are a small business, you can consider the SonicWALL TX 100/200/210 series UTM.
Highlights of the SonicWALL TX 100/200/210 UTM Series:
- Gateway level anti-virus, anti-spyware, Intrusion prevention, URL filtering, Anti-spam (Optional modules in certain models)
- Application control, visibility & Bandwidth prioritize (TZ 210)
- Secures both inbound and outbound network traffic
- Load-balancing and fail-over between a primary Internet connection (Internet Leased Lines, cable modem, broadband modem, etc) and a secondary Internet connection (USB based 3G data cards) (TZ 200 & TZ 210)
- Some models come with a wireless adapter to provide a wi-fi connection and they support up to 8 virtual wireless access points
- Support for IPSec and SSL VPN for encrypting office to office connections, office to PC connections and mobile phone to office connections
- GUI based configuration utility, Centralized policy management
- Unrestricted node connectivity (there are no licenses for the maximum number of computers that can be connected through it), but each device supports a certain maximum bandwidth (for each module), and certain maximum connections
- Dynamic DNS support for accessing home based devices from anywhere (over the Internet) using a simple to remember domain name
- Protection against Denial of Service attacks and scanning attacks
- 5 x 10/100 Mbps interfaces (TZ 100, TZ 200); 5 x 10/100 Mbps + 2 x 10/100/1000 Mbps interfaces (TZ 210)
- USB ports: 1 (TZ 200); 2 (TZ 210)
- Stateful throughput: 100 Mbps (TZ 100, TZ 200); 200 Mbps (TZ 210). Individual module (like anti-virus, for example) throughput varies for each module and each device
The SonicWALL TZ 100/200/210 Series UTM is built for small businesses and comes at a small business pricing. Customers can buy it as a basic model or along with TotalSecure security package (recommended). It can be bought with the wireless adapter or without it.
Though it is generally recommended for offices and small business, it can also be used at highly networked homes. Installation requires some knowledge of installing network devices, but can be managed if sufficient time is invested in exploring to learn. A GUI installation/management interface is also provided to make it easier.
Where to buy: If you live in the United States (US), you can buy the SonicWALL TZ 100/200/210 UTM/Firewall appliances Online from Amazon. Click on the following links to get the pricing and other details.
4. SonicWALL models with wireless feature.
Video introduction for SonicWALL TZ UTM Series:
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