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Dell boosts SSL traffic protection with SonicWALL TZ overhaul

The latest Dell SonicWALL TZ is faster than previous firewall models and better equipped to protect SSL traffic.

LAS VEGAS -- Dell boosted the speed of the SonicWALL TZ Series firewall to keep pace with the increase in encrypted traffic on company networks.

The computer maker unveiled the firewall Tuesday at Interop in Las Vegas. The security appliance is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and companies with remote offices.

The latest SonicWALL has multicore Cavium processors capable of searching for malware and other threats at a rate of 1.1 Gbps. Deep packet inspections have a maximum rate of 500 Mbps. The device checks traffic encrypted with the networking protocol Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) at a top rate of 200 Mbps.

Better firewall performance needed

The upgrade is a "complete refresh," said Paula Musich, research director for security product tester NSS Labs. The latest TZ models use the same inspection engine as the SonicWALL SuperMassive firewall for enterprises.

"The goal was to bring greater performance to SMBs who require greater throughput, and to meet the challenges posed by the increasing use of encryption," Musich said.

In a 2013 study, NSS Labs found that eight popular next-generation firewalls suffered an 81% drop in performance when inspecting SSL-protected packets.

SSL traffic is increasing about 20% annually due to the growing number of smartphones and tablets using the protocol, according to NSS Labs. Roughly 1% of existing malware uses SSL encryption.

Dell has also added to the SonicWALL TZ a wireless controller for directing traffic from the vendor's access points that support the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Enterprises can manage TZ firewalls using the Dell SonicWALL Global Management System.

The home and small-office version of the latest SonicWALL TZ costs $520. The version that provides maximum inspection rates costs $2,465.

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Is monitoring SSL traffic for threats a problem for your organization?