Product Reviews

SonicWALL PRO 5.0.0

Up to this point, we’ve been discussing software-based firewall products. SonicWALL takes a different approach, offering hardware devices that serve as firewalls: in this case, the SonicWALL PRO 5.0.0. Known as an Internet security appliance, the SonicWALL box provides a solid firewall with stateful packet inspection, NAT, application proxy, DHCP, content filtering, and VPN features.

Once installed, the SonicWALL box is easily configured via a Web browser, and offers more options than most of the software-only products I’ve used. The interface is so intuitive that I never used SonicWALL’s online help, though I eventually checked it out and found it to be excellent. Firmware updates to the box are downloaded from the Internet and take only seconds to complete. You can even import and export SonicWALL settings for a large-scale deployment or in case of an emergency.

If I do have a gripe about SonicWALL, it has to do with initial installation. The PC host must be temporarily reconfigured to the SonicWALL device’s IP address range. Once this is complete, you can connect to and configure the SonicWALL box, then reconfigure the PC host. I find this to be a hassle and hope that SonicWALL considers trying some other approaches, such as having the SonicWALL device temporarily act as a DHCP client and display its IP address via an integrated LCD.

SonicWALL Pro 5.0.0

The SonicWALL PRO features an intuitive and functional Web-based interface. (Click image to view larger version.)

In stress testing, the SonicWALL PRO holds up well under denial-of-service attacks. Alerts are forwarded to an email account so a network administrator can quickly react. As a bonus, I found the SonicWALL box even includes a Web filter for controlling access to certain sites. Also, the addition of a Java/ActiveX filter means you can actually institute a usage policy that before might have seemed impossible to enforce. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, solid, and easy firewall solution, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better package than the SonicWALL device.

About the Author

Chip Andrews, MCSE+I, MCDBA is a software security architect at (Clarus Corp.). Chip maintains the ( Web site and speaks at security conferences on SQL Server security issues.

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