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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Your opinion on your filter in Technical; I'm attempting to plan for a new filtering gateway for my very large school, but I'm having trouble seeing why ...
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    Your opinion on your filter

    I'm attempting to plan for a new filtering gateway for my very large school, but I'm having trouble seeing why I should pick one option over the other. Feature sets seem to be pretty much the same across the board. Every time I speak to our consultants, they give me yet more options and widely varying opinions about whether appliances are good or bad and HA and yet more stuff. My brain is honestly fit to burst.

    Could you tell me what it is about your own filtering that makes you like it more than the others? I think I need opinions from people who actually operate the things. We need us some crazy good reporting, AD support, plays nice with Aerohive, that kind of stuff.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I use Smooth wall advanced firewall license.
    I like it because it was relatively easy to setup. Has lots of good features along side the filtering, such as VPN which we now used and replaced our terminal servers.
    Real time logging is very useful and lots and lots of info can be generated from the reports
    The support is also great. Fast at responding and good knowledge

  3. Thanks to ihaveaproblem from:

    tom_newton (9th August 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ihaveaproblem View Post
    I use Smooth wall advanced firewall license.
    I like it because it was relatively easy to setup. Has lots of good features along side the filtering, such as VPN which we now used and replaced our terminal servers.
    Real time logging is very useful and lots and lots of info can be generated from the reports
    The support is also great. Fast at responding and good knowledge
    How customisable is the reporting?

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    twin--turbo's Avatar
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    We use websense, it sort of does a good job but has issues..

    We used to use squid/guard with some inhouse scripts for DIR intergration, room blocking and blacklist updating.

    Rob

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    ricki's Avatar
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    HI

    We use squid and dansguardian but smoothwall is the commercial version which is better.


    Richard

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    tom_newton (9th August 2012)

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    We recently reviewed our filtering system. We have changed and after looking at 14 different solutions, we decided to use smoothwall. Setup was simple enough and the interface for reports is fairly intuitive. Any problems appear to be dealt with quickly by their support team without any issues or moans.
    Links into AD very well.
    Only thing that frustrated us a little was that it does block a lot out of the box, and needs a little bit of tweaking depending on the age range of the school. But any new product would need tweaks.
    It uses youtube for schools, which lets us block youtube on the whole for students but allow it for staff.

    No product is perfect, if i could have taken bits from all 14 solutions Id have a great product. Example being on Smoothwall you cant do a drilled down report for the current day, only a basic report. That can be a little annoying but its something that they are working on for future release.

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    tom_newton (9th August 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by calikit View Post
    How customisable is the reporting?
    The current reporting system is very customisable, depending on how much time you want to spend with it as it can be quite high level and complex. There are a lot of built in reports that can be tweaked and edited really easily. It is worth bearing in mind though that the current system uses a Mysql database and obviously your reporting needs will place a high level of demand on the box, so it is important to consider a dedicated reporting box with suitable hardware to cope with the demands of this. We are in the process of completely overhauling the reporting system and at present I don't know what effect this will have on the future customisability of reports as the project is still in the very early stages. The aim is to make reporting more efficient and to improve data transfer from multiple child nodes, although how this will affect your reporting needs I cannot say. I certainly believe we will aim to keep as much functionality in the reporting system as possible as a number of our customers have similar requirements to yourselves re: reporting.

    Regarding AD integration, it depends how much AD integration you want. If you want to build policies around specific AD security groups, then Smoothwall does this with bells on. We also support eDirectory, apple OpenDirectory, RADIUS, various Linux distro directories etc. We are also just about to release Kerberos authentication. It is not in the product at the moment but should be released to all customers as an installable update by the end of August.

    I can't answer whether or not it plays nice with Aerohive, although if you contact our sales representatives they can arrange for a Free-of-charge evaluation license to be issued for you which you can pop into VMWare or Virtualbox (HyperV is not really supported as there are issues with NIC drivers) for testing purposes. If Aerohive supports Kerberos auth then this might be the best way forward as if you choose to use NTLM you may need to bypass authentication as many applications do not support it properly.
    Last edited by AMLightfoot; 9th August 2012 at 10:33 AM.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    If all the appliances and offerings seem the same then there's no point in judging it on that; so judge it on the company instead.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only way Smoothwall support could be better is if they could develop a telephone-based Hobnob delivery system.

    No, seriously, they're superb.

  12. 2 Thanks to sonofsanta:

    AMLightfoot (9th August 2012), tom_newton (9th August 2012)

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    Smoothwall. You won't find a better filtering engine.

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    tom_newton (9th August 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    Smoothwall. You won't find a better filtering engine.
    Who else offers the same kind of service as Smoothwall? I'm trying to convince our head that we need to change our filtering system and the Smoothwall quote looked good but at a price that the governors would insist on competitive quotes.

    I know about Danguardian but would sooner pay for support/managed blacklists and would like firewall and filter in one hardware (like the UTM-1000).

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Who else offers the same kind of service as Smoothwall? I'm trying to convince our head that we need to change our filtering system and the Smoothwall quote looked good but at a price that the governors would insist on competitive quotes.

    I know about Danguardian but would sooner pay for support/managed blacklists and would like firewall and filter in one hardware (like the UTM-1000).
    Palo Alto will give you a nice big quote to put the Smoothie in perspective. By all accounts it's excellent, just... pricey.

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    tmcd35 (9th August 2012)

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    I used Smoothwall as well - simple becuase both the content filtering and the reporting side of things are wicked. Completely customiseable and the interface is simple and effective.

    The feature set provided is really good.

    Squid and Dansguardian works but I would only put that into production with a good upstream filter - we used to use it for local filtering when connected to the LEA WAN.

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    tom_newton (9th August 2012)

  20. #13

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    On smoothwall you can also publish reports to a web portal that staff login to. I think this is a nice feature because all staff ( or the staff you give perms to access the portal ) can easily view reports without bugging IT staff.

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    Thanks folks. FWIW, we are quite heavily blockular right out of the box - this is a relic of the days of BECTA standards, which required us to have a tight tight tight standard policy - we hope, one day, there'll be other standards to live up to *sniff* *weep*

    As for reporting... all true - we've got some fairly in-depth reporting tools, but they can be tricky to use in places. We are, as someone mentioned, working on a "version 2.0" right now. In fact, only 2 hours ago i was chatting with the developers working on it... VERY exciting...

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    That was a resoundingly unanimous verdict. Smoothwall was already one we were considering simply because I knew how popular it was here and now I know why. I've already got the demo, just need to give it a test. Who can I contact in NZ about Smoothwall?



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