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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Lightspeed vs Smoothwall in Technical; Alternative title: URL List filtering vs in line filtering. I am evaluating filtering systems again. I have used Smoothwall before ...
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    Lightspeed vs Smoothwall

    Alternative title: URL List filtering vs in line filtering.

    I am evaluating filtering systems again. I have used Smoothwall before and find it pretty good, and I know how keen people around here are about it. However the quotes I have currently, put a LightSpeed rocket substantially cheaper than a SmoothWall guardian appliance. If I sell SmoothWall to the powers that be, it would have to be on the quality of the filtering. I see the theoretical advantages of in-line filtering, but I see some merit in LightSpeed's response that analysing pages centrally and sending out a URL list is more efficient and allows for more through analysis of the pages. Ultimately it is the results that matter, but I am not sure we have the resources to do our own trial of the the options, so I am very interested in the results of anyone who has.

    Has anyone done any trials recently comparing Smoothwall against Lightspeed, or any URL list based filtering against in-line?

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    Have both companies in, demo the kit, look at all options, pro and con both, make a recommendation, if both come out equal, then write a report and leave it to your powers that be and absolve yourself from the responsibility of choosing that particular piece of kit.

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    Bear in mind that URL list filtering is not the same as dynamic content analysis. Smoothwall Dynamic content analysis can analyse a page it has never seen before that is not a member of any known URL list and categorise it based on the content potentially preventing access to inappropriate content. This even works on 'safe' sites like 'Yahoo' that might have inappropriate news feed headers or adverts. So you may like to compare the filtering features and the pros and cons of each type of filtering as part of your report.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Smoothwall's dynamic filtering is one of the best around. Simpler filters such as RM's SafetyNet let stuff through where smoothwall looks at the content and recognises a dodgy page without being told the URL. I'm not sure where Lightspeed fits in on that scale.

    Like all filters, Smoothie may require some training so that it doesn't block that key trustworthy (hopefully) site that someone on SLT needs to access.

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    IMHO, URL based filtering isn't good enough anymore.

    Content changes so fast online, and there's so many pokey corners of the internet, that keeping up with that is close to impossible.

    I did a fairly rigorous test of various filters at my last school (bear in mind this was ~5 years ago) and ended up going with smoothwall.

    However anything without a dynamic analysis portion was way too easily defeatable. Yeah, a dynamic filter takes a bit longer to configure and get your head round how it categories stuff - but the benefits are humongous.

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    Interesting and timely topic. We are currently using Untangle and had nothing but trouble, possibly due to hardware issues. I am looking at Smoothwall and Lightspeed. Lightspeed is significantly cheaper. We are doing a demo this week to see how it all goes so will be interested to see the results.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Simple test. Ask them to filter a big dynamic website like Edugeek. The forums in particular is quite a good test as we often discuss things out of context of what a dumb url filter would be looking for,

    Also check what, if at all, they can do about HTTPS filtering.

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    Very interesting topic as we're also currently looking at these same two options. We currently have a sonicwall which is pretty useless for web filtering in terms of policy definition, reporting and support, although we may keep it as a firewall.

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    One thing to always remember with these is that they do not turn up ready for your school. After we had smoothie installed I was tinkering for weeks getting it working just how I wanted it....which in turn might be miles off how you want it. Regardless of solution you go with, be patient with it.

    The smoothwall box is awesome, but I must say their support is slipping. They take forever to get back to you, however, they are awesome when they do.

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    We are working on improving the 'Out of the box' rulesets available to schools and we have several projects in the pipeline to support zero-touch installs so keep your ear to the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jollity View Post
    Alternative title: URL List filtering vs in line filtering.

    I am evaluating filtering systems again. I have used Smoothwall before and find it pretty good, and I know how keen people around here are about it. However the quotes I have currently, put a LightSpeed rocket substantially cheaper than a SmoothWall guardian appliance. If I sell SmoothWall to the powers that be, it would have to be on the quality of the filtering. I see the theoretical advantages of in-line filtering, but I see some merit in LightSpeed's response that analysing pages centrally and sending out a URL list is more efficient and allows for more through analysis of the pages. Ultimately it is the results that matter, but I am not sure we have the resources to do our own trial of the the options, so I am very interested in the results of anyone who has.

    Has anyone done any trials recently comparing Smoothwall against Lightspeed, or any URL list based filtering against in-line?

    +1 for Lightspeed here. We've done a lot of testing with them and the product is great.

    Lightspeed pre-filters images.google.com which quite a few content filtering systems don't by "x'ing" out any images which shouldn't be shown.

    We're about to launch a hosted version of their product and bundle it in with our hosted virtualised Fortigate security solution to give additional security / content filtering. We looked at quite a few systems and Lightspeed is a) cost effective b) scalable c) integrates with Apple, Android and Windows MDM and D) we've not been able to get an inappropriate image through it so far.

    Dave

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    We have had Smoothwall for 3 years, have been trialling lightspeed for 3 weeks and are moving to lightspeed.

    It's easier to use, requires far less administration time and despite not having dynamic content filtering still blocks everything it needs to block, and allows what we want it to allow. Make the default rule block and if the page / URL hasn't been manually checked and categorised by a human being it simply gets blocked, then listed to be categorised.

    People may criticise this method but the truth is we have seen it and it works.

    Lightspeed also whitelists the sites I want, unlike Smoothwall which still touches the traffic and manipulates it which is frustrating.

    Not that Smoothwall isn't good at what it does, I just think that Lightspeed seems more refined

    Edit: forgot to mention my big campus, could prove to be very useful going forward and is bundled with the lightspeed filter
    Last edited by RTFM; 11th February 2013 at 07:11 PM.

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    Hi guys,

    If you dont mind me asking how much are we talking about smoothwall costing ???
    I have someone coming to promote this product to me on Thursday at 1100 and just want a comparison
    to see if its a good deal or not, I have been talking to websense for the last 2 weeks but they still
    wont tell me how much it will be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staningrimsby View Post
    Hi guys,

    If you dont mind me asking how much are we talking about smoothwall costing ???
    I have someone coming to promote this product to me on Thursday at 1100 and just want a comparison
    to see if its a good deal or not, I have been talking to websense for the last 2 weeks but they still
    wont tell me how much it will be.
    I won't say what our quotes have been for lightspeed, Smoothwall, bloxx and sonic wall but they are all much of a muchness. Your best getting prices and trials for a variety of UTM devices, filters and firewalls and making your own mind up. You'll know what's a good price when you get all the quotes and see the products

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    Gaz
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    One thing no one has mentioned is after sales support. How do both company's compare?

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