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WatchGuard XCS-770 review

WatchGuard makes a big play for the web and message content security market with its new XCS appliance family. In this review we see how the mid-range XCS-770 stands up.

The SurfControl database doesn't have a specific category for these so we had to use the URL lookup feature on WatchGuard's website. We had to block multiple categories as Twitter, for example, belongs to the Blogs and Forums category whereas Facebook came under Personals and Dating.

The XCS appliances provide an HTTP/HTTPS proxy for handling webmail and protecting servers such as OWA or Lotus iNotes. They also allow webmail access so you can let users view and manage their own quarantine areas.

WatchGuard offers a lot more data protection features as you can create global block lists for attachments types. Once you've uploaded compliance dictionaries you can perform deep content scanning at the policy level where the appliance looks for text and phrase patterns within document types.

Content scanning goes even further as if specific phrases trigger a threshold, you can have the document automatically encrypted. You can also use filters to look for objectionable content in mail and block, reject or quarantine them.

Even stricter attachment controls can be enforced with document fingerprinting. Samples of documents are uploaded to the appliance which calculates a fingerprint for them. Adding a score to each one allows the appliance to decide which category they belong to so you can determine precisely which ones are to be allowed or denied.

Despite its compact dimensions, the XCS-770 delivers an impressive range of content security measures. Its web interface takes a while to get to grips with but the appliance looks good value and overall anti-spam performance can't be faulted.

Verdict

WatchGuard’s new XCS appliances deliver an impressive range of data protection and content security features. Its anti-spam and web filtering capabilities are extremely good and the deep scanning technologies allow email usage to be closely controlled. Our only issues are that the web interface could be more intuitive and we can’t quite see the point of the transparent mode.

Chassis: 1U low-profile rack CPU: 2.4GHz Xeon X3220 Memory: 4GB 667MHz DDR2 Storage: 160GB SATA RAID: None Network: 3 x Gigabit Ethernet Management: Web browser

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