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Firewall purchasing advice

In this Q&A, Michael Gregg offers quick advice about purchasing a firewall.

I manage a network of about 50 computers, T1, Cisco VPN 3005, Windows 2000 servers, Windows 2003 Servers, Terminal Services, etc.

I need help in choosing a proper firewall (probably hardware?) and an antivirus solution. One problem with desktop antivirus applications is that the computers are older (PIII with 256MB RAM or less in some instances) and cannot run Norton Antivirus well. I tried Trend Micro and it bogged down the computers, too. Any suggestions for networks with somewhat older desktops and servers?

In this situation you may want to consider one of the hardware security devices that are starting to gain ground. While I would not normally recommend these devices they do address the problem of working with older computers. These unified threat management (UTM) systems typically combined a firewall, antivirus, VPN, and can even block spyware and spam. Players in this market include Fortinet, SonicWall, Cisco, and even DLink. You will want to look at several to get an idea as to what will work best for your network as these devices vary from vendor to vendor. Some of these vendors partner with other companies to provide services such as anti-virus or content filtering.
This was last published in August 2006

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