Kerio firewall moves into unified threat management

When a company rebrands its product, it’s often a sign of a significant change.

That’s the reasoning behind Kerio Technologies’ move to change the moniker of its 13-year old WinRoute Firewall to Kerio Control 7.

The company felt the new name was needed now that it has evolved into a unified threat management software appliance.

“There definitely aren’t a shortage of UTMs,” admits James Guedeli, vice-president of business development. But he believes Kerio Control’s ease of installation and management gives it a leg up on competitors.

Aimed at small and mid-sized companies of up to 500 people, Kerio Control’s intrusion detection and prevention capabilities are based on the open source Snort technology, which classifies attacks again serves, applications, clients and network infrastructure.

The three-level rating using a database created by Kerio allows IT or network managers to let the firewall block, ignore or log threats. The database can be updated as much as once an hour.

Control also has a new anti-virus engine from Sophos Plc., replacing WinRoute Firewall’s A-V protection from McAfee Inc. Guedeli said the move was mainly for business reasons. “We’re looking for a longer-term partner that will grow with us,” he said.

For those who don’t want to use the built-in anti-virus, Control comes with plug-ins to a variety of commercial and open source AV products.

As with the previous version, Control runs in Windows environments or as a hardened Linux appliance with a built-in operating system based on the Debian distribution.

In addition to being able to run on 32- and 64-bit x86-based servers or workstations, Kerio Control can also run in virtualized environments, with a special version tailored for VMware systems.

Control also includes a new Web administration console to make it easier for small companies to use.

“They’ve got some serious competition, said Ted Ritter, a senior analyst at Nemertes Research of Mokena, Ill., including products from SonicWall Inc., Fortinet Inc. and WatchGuard Technologies Inc.

SMBs tend to lean towards unified threat management appliances for their ability to do everything, he said. That’s appreciated in companies with small IT departments.

He was also struck by Control’s ability to be used in virtualized environments. That could appeal to smaller organizations, he said, where it would mean saving one server.

Victor Beitner of Toronto’s Cyber Security Canada, a Kerio channel partner and integrator, said it usually takes him only five minutes to train the head of a customer that used WinRoute Firewall to manage the software. “You don’t need an engineering degree to figure out the product,” he said in an interview.

John Kindervag, a senior security analyst at Forrester Research who hasn’t been briefed on Kerio Control, said the unified threat management market has partly been left behind by next generation hardware-based firewalls that have greater throughput than software-only appliances. He could only think of one successful software-based UTM vendor, and even that company has now moved to hardware appliances.

Kerio says its browser-based StaR data analytics engine is what managers will appreciate most in Control. It displays network activity in comprehensive views to help show threats and patterns and generates easy to read reports, Guedeli said.

Kerio Control serve licence starts at US$255 for five users, US$306 for the version that includes anti-virus. Five user packs start at US$120. URL filtering is extra.



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