Where to start? This thing is just cram-packed with goodies. Let’s go down the menu and explore the main features.
- Log – The SWSOHOTC maintains a running log of any important network activity such as attacks and logins and records every detail. You can choose what categories of events to log. The log file can be viewed at any time via the Interface, it can be e-mailed to you when the log is full and/or on a certain date and time. You can also choose to be notified via e-mail on certain events. The Log Reports feature lets you monitor traffic and create reports about the top 25 most frequently access web sites and bandwidth usage by IP address.
- Filter – This feature allows you to filter content that passes through the SWSOHOTC and block pornography, violence, and other undesirable content. You can choose what categories to block, and set a time window when to block them, as well as block things like cookies, Java, and ActiveX. The filter list can be updated automatically or manually. You can customize the filter and add your own trusted and forbidden domains, block keywords and set up web access consent.
- Tools – Some handy utils like restart the SWSOHOTC, import/export the SWSOHOTC settings, restore the defaults, upload new firmware (very easy, plus you can be notified via e-mail whenever new firmware is available), upgrade the SWSOHOTC and activate new features/more licenses, and run diagnostics, including a special tech support report for troubleshooting.
- Access – Lots of good stuff in this section. While the SWSOHOTC works fine out of the box, you can customize to your heart’s content by allowing and disallowing services, set up rules, configure users for remote and local access, and decide how the SWSOHOTC can be managed.
- Advanced – More goodies here in form of automatic web proxy forwarding, Intranet firewall configuration, static routing, and one-to-one NAT (network address translation, allows mapping public IP addresses to specific private IP addresses on the local network). Again, not something the average home user needs every day but as the category name says, some great tools for the advanced user that you normally find only in much higher priced units.
- DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol allows you to let the SWSOHOTC dish out IP addresses to machines on your network that request one. Much easier than configuring each machine individually and keeping track of them. You can enable or disable this service, specify ranges for DHCP, and add static IPs.
- VPN – The Virtual Private Network option makes this model the ideal Telecommuter choice. It allows you to set up VPN connections with your office for secure access to the company network. We have a SonicWALL Pro protecting one of our companies networks, so I set up a static VPN connection between the two SonicWALLs. Using the net use command I was able to map a network drive from my companies network to my local machine at home and access company network shares securely from home. That combined with the speed of my cable modem made browsing the company network and transferring files as fast and convenient as if I was sitting at my desk at work. Very cool!
- Anti-Virus – This feature is a subscription-based antivirus solution that puts the SWSOHOTC in charge of virus-protection for all computers on your network. It automatically installs anti-virus software on each computer, restricts network access for PCs without the anti-virus software installed, and updates the virus definition files automatically and transparently, taking away the need for individual administration. I haven’t tried this feature yet, but it sounds like a cool concept that could save network admins a lot of potential trouble.
- NAT – Network address translation allows you to let multiple computers on the network share online access through only one IP address. Your ISP will never know the difference and it will save you money that you don’t have to pay to your ISP for multiple IP addresses. If you have two or more machines on the network, this feature alone will make the SWSOHOTC pay for itself.
- Security – The SWSOHOTC uses stateful packet inspection, the most effective method of packet filtering, to protect the local area network from hackers. It inspects every network packet and rejects any incoming packet that was not requested from within your network. The SWSOHOTC automatically protects you from Syn flood, Ping of death, IP Spoofing, Land attack, Smurf amplification, and sequence number prediction.
Without going into too much detail about each feature, you get the idea of how versatile this product is and what great options and customization it offers.