WatchGuard protects SMEs with Linux Firebox

Security company WatchGuard has launched an appliance for smaller companies to combat hackers, worms and DDoS attacks

Security company WatchGuard launched a Linux-based appliance on Tuesday that is designed to slip into a small and medium-sized company's network to provide firewall, VPN and intrusion prevention services.

Smaller companies generally lack the specialist security skills can be taken for granted in large enterprises, which means they are more reliant on hardware and software solutions to protect them against worm and hacker attacks.

WatchGuard, which focuses on the SME market, has developed the Firebox X security appliance to supply small companies with an off-the-shelf solution that provides basic security services, but has the ability to switch on more advanced functionalities by unlocking the additional features and applications by purchasing a licence key.

Mark Stevens, chief strategy officer at WatchGuard, said the Firebox X appliances are available in four different models, which are physically identical but have varying levels of functionality switched on as default. "Customers do not need to make a decision up-front what performance level they need. By using an electronic key, they can turn on more throughput, more VPN capabilities or more tunnels," said Stevens.

According to Stevens, later this year the Firebox will be armed with a gateway antivirus application in addition to the desktop package that is currently supplied with the box: "Through a partnership with McAfee we have desktop antivirus as an option and we will be offering a gateway antivirus option in the second half of this year," he said.

The Firebox also comes with a Windows-based management tool that can supply real-time information on the network's performance: "Unlike browser-based systems, which have trouble with real-time monitoring, we ship a suite of tools with the box that can display the real-time bandwidth and CPU utilisation," said Stevens.

The Firebox X is a 1.2GHz Intel-based device with 256MB RAM and 64MB of flash memory. It runs a secure Linux kernel that Stevens said has been "custom hardened by our security engineers". The product costs between $1,900 and $5,000, depending on the number of additional features and applications required.