Wireless firewall appliance suits smaller offices

WatchGuard has released new versions of its Firebox firewall appliances featuring an instant licence upgrade system and a wireless model for small office and home users.

WatchGuard has released new versions of its Firebox firewall appliances featuring an instant licence upgrade system and a wireless model for small office and home users.

The company’s Australia and New Zealand managing director, Moheb Moses, says the licence upgrades allow companies to add features or extra user licences when needed. The licence upgrade is built into the management interface, he says.

A new model, the SOHO Firebox 6 Wireless, includes many of the features of the higher-end Firebox models. Computerworld had the use of a SOHO wireless unit and found it well-suited for smaller offices without onsite technical staff. The web-based admin interface is intuitive and doesn’t let the technology confuse the task at hand.

Out of the box, the $995 base model allows 10 concurrent users. The licence manager allows extra user licenses or features such as the WebBlocker content filter or brand-to-branch VPN to be bought and activated immediately. No doubt many businesses would rather all features were unlocked and available for the base price, but if you have to stump up for an extra feature it’s convenient to be able to pay only when the feature is needed and without having to upgrade hardware or firmware.

Setup is easy; the Firebox will assign IP address to the local network with its built-in DHCP service, and ISP settings can be made quickly through the web interface. Once set up with a branch-to-branch VPN, the WatchGuard can easily be administered from an offsite location.

WatchGuard has included a 175-page printed manual, which is a nice change from overly technical PDF documents that vendors commonly dish out these days. It’s commendably user-friendly.

Wireless access can be encrypted with WEP. Wireless clients are placed in their own default zone, which is a sensible security measure.

WatchGuard’s LiveSecurity update service costs $199 annually; a three-month subscription is included when purchased. A version bundled with 10 branch office VPN connections, the $1245 Firebox SOHO 6tc, is also available.

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