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Symantec Launches Security Gateway For Small Businesses

It's aiming its 300 series of security appliances at companies with little or no IT staff or experience.
Symantec Corp. on Monday expanded its line of gateway security appliances to target small businesses on budgets with little or no IT staff or experience.

The 300 series of Symantec's Security Gateway--the models include the 320, the 360, and the 360R--is aimed at small businesses that want to move up from consumer-level firewall, antivirus, and intrusion-detection software to a more robust, enterprise-style, appliance-based defense, said George Sluz, product manager for the new appliance line. "We're trying to raise the security bar for small business by upgrading them from consumer-level [security] to a business-class product," said Sluz. "But we're not just scaling our 3400 series [for the enterprise] down and packaging it in a smaller box. We've redesigned functions and made them appropriate for small business. They're less complex overall and easier to install."

All the devices in the 300 line integrate firewall, intrusion prevention, intrusion detection, antivirus policy enforcement, content-filtering, and IPsec-compliant VPN capabilities, according to Symantec. All defenses--such as intrusion detection, which automatically blocks data packets detected as malicious, including Trojan horse attempts to scan ports--are automatically enabled by default, said Sluz, one way the appliances circumvent small business's lack of IT expertise. "There's not a lot customers have to do to get this running," promised Sluz.

The appliances also feature a dial-up backup--to an external modem connected via the included serial port--to keep the business on the Internet if the primary broadband pipe goes down. The more expensive 360 and 360R models sport a pair of WAN ports, each of which can be connected to a different broadband service. If one service goes dark, the other automatically kicks in; if both are operating, the two are combined to double throughput.

An optional add-on, priced at around $200, turns any of the appliances in the new series into a wireless (802.11b/g) access port.

One way that Symantec cut costs to make the 300 line fit small-businesses budgets is to offload the actual antivirus defense to existing versions of its own Norton line of antivirus client software. Rather than pack the appliance with thousands of virus signatures--which would raise the price--or cut back on the number of virus and worm threats recognized, the appliance merely acts as a policy manager for the business' desktops.

The appliance's administrator uses a Web-based management console to set antivirus policies--the minimum interval between checks for signature updates, for instance--and then the gateway uses that template to check the status of the client systems and automatically update them, or alert the administrator that an employee's PC is non-compliant.

Symantec's new appliances come with 90 days of free telephone support--with an option to extend that to a year for less than $150--and support an unlimited number of users; there's no licensing restriction to a set number of seats. The 320 targets shops with 50 or fewer users, while the 360 and 360R are aimed at businesses with up to 75 systems.

Symantec's Security Gateway 300, 360, and 360R are scheduled to ship in late April, priced at of $417, $607, and $759, respectively.

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