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3/28/2011
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Netgear Intros Gateway Security Appliance For SMBs

The ProSecure UTM150 unified threat management appliance polices Web traffic to help protect company networks against employee-introduced risks from social media or malicious links.

Netgear ProSecure UTM150
(click image for larger view)
Netgear ProSecure UTM150
Netgear on Monday launched its ProSecure UTM150 for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) looking to deploy a gateway approach to network security.

As its name suggests, the appliance is tooled for corporate networks with around 150 users, though the fact that Netgear doesn't sell individual licenses means it might as well suit a 50-person business with heavy network traffic -- or a 250-employee firm with lighter demands. Peter Airs, product marketing manager at Netgear, said the 150-user tag is ultimately a signpost for owners and IT pros trying to determine the right fit.

"We're all about developing products that are right-sized for the SMB space," Airs said in an interview.

The UTM150 represents another move-up market for Netgear's ProSecure line of unified threat management (UTM) appliances, which now has five models ranging from five to 150 suggested users. Among the feature upgrades, the UTM150 includes four gigabit WAN ports, an increase from two on the UTM50 device. Netgear benchmarks performance in three categories, with up to 130-Mbps antivirus throughput, 900-Mbps firewall throughput, and 400-Mbps VPN throughput. That's roughly three times faster than the UTM50 model, according to Airs. The street price of the UTM150 is $1,799, with one year of Web and email protection, 24/7 support, and lifetime warranty.

Airs said the "dirty little secret" of some security appliances is that the vendor limits the number of virus definitions in its database to avoid performance issues. Airs touted Netgear's patent-pending stream-based scanning approach, which checks all Web content as it passes through the device -- rather than in cache -- to minimize latency for the end user.

Instead of translating that into marketing claims -- "now 5 times faster!" for instance -- Airs said that Netgear uses the performance gains to put the Web content through additional tests. It runs a full version of Sophos antivirus, which includes roughly 1.2 million threat signatures. Netgear partners with Commtouch for anti-spam technology and Mailshell for Web analysis and filtering.

While the UTM150 protects both Web and email content, Airs acknowledged that the malware boom means the security landscape is increasingly Web-dominated. "Before, malware was delivered to a business via email," Airs said. "Today, it's the employees that are pulling malware into the business, usually by clicking on bad links or through social media."

The human element of corporate network security requires extra vigilance in the increasingly Web-based world, according to Airs. That means policing both approved Web traffic -- say, cloud applications such as Salesforce.com or legitimate social media usage -- as well as inappropriate use in the office.

"We're desperately encouraging our SMB customers to think quite carefully about: 'What do your employees use to conduct business?'" Airs said. He noted that along with the myriad productive uses of a company's network, staffers might just as likely be updating their online dating profile or placing an offshore bet on tonight's game.

Airs stressed a multilayered security strategy and said that Netgear always recommends its customers maintain a separate desktop antivirus program. "Our UTM devices complement desktop antivirus," Airs said. "We can't protect against people bringing their own laptops or netbooks into the office." He also mentioned USB drives brought in from outside the office as another threat vector that necessitates desktop protection in conjunction with a gateway. So why not just go with desktop software?

"The weak link here is the human," Airs said, giving as examples employees who turn off their virus scan because of performance or ignore an Adode update because they think it will inconvenience them. "That's when a gateway appliance protects the corporate network from its own users."

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