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Linux Containers: Article

The Astaro Security Gateway 320

The good news is that Astaro makes it easy to protect yourself with a family of security gateway appliances

If you're responsible for network security, then you know that yours is a job fraught with worry over spam, network intrusions, viruses, and internal hazards like rogue servers, internal malicious activity, and web surfing control. The good news is that Astaro makes it easy to protect yourself with a family of security gateway appliances. The ASG320, its model for mid-sized business and enterprise divisions, packs a high-value punch. It doesn't take a string of Linux servers to set up a security infrastructure, just a single appliance that's certainly a more economical solution. The ASG320 is more than a firewall since it provides network segment configuration, intrusion protection, packet filtering, and an IPSEC VPN configuration toolset.

Initialization and setup of the ASG320 is a snap with a Web interface similar to many home office-style wireless routers. The Astaro WebAdmin management platform lets you get going immediately. In minutes, passwords are set, the license files are uploaded, and the configuration is ready to be customized. The ASG320 allows for complete control in configuring internal- and external-facing network interfaces and system users. The network services section comes with several common protocols already defined on the default ports, and a clean and simple utility for defining custom services.

As might be expected, the ASG320 provides configuration interfaces for routing, DHCP, and NAT and provides a traffic accounting utility. The accounting information and local logs can be browsed or queried through the ASG320's intuitive log query utility, which lets you highlight or filter information by time span and/or message type.

The Intrusion Protection System (IPS) on the ASG320 recognizes attacks automatically and blocks them before they can reach your network. A key feature of the IPS is its Portscan Detection. Many attacks begin as would-be intruders scan networks to find which services are available. The Portscan Detection feature detects these scans and alerts you to the potential attack. The IPS also provides severity-based alerts and notification. The system recognizes and records detected and blocked packets and sends alerts based on your configuration so you can make adjustments based on incoming or outgoing traffic. Powerful exclusion policies can be created through the Advanced section of the Intrusion Protection interface. Here you can customize performance-tuning parameters for common server connections such as HTTP, DNS, SMTP, SQL, or Telnet.

The ASG320's Packet Filter provides great flexibility in setting up firewall rules. The ASG320 blocks all packets by default, and requires you to define which packets can pass. Commonly needed settings and utilities such as SYN rate limiting and the definition of ICMP policy are handled with ease.

Virus Protection on the ASG320 is achieved via content filters where the ASG320's Proxy Content Manager scans passing e-mails for potentially dangerous or unwanted content. The offending messages are identified and blocked automatically. Through the Proxy Content Manager these messages are deferred or quarantined, and can be subject to automatic cleanup. The Proxy Content Manager can also be configured to send you a daily spam digest.

The ASG320 provides an IPSEC VPN toolset. With the IPSEC VPN configuration area, you can configure the types of connections that your network will support, policies for those connections, and local and remote keys with which those connections authenticate. Additional features include configuring L2TP over IPSEC connections and CA management so you can manage your own X.509 Certificate Authority. Here the ASG320 extends well beyond the notion of a firewall simply as a packet filter. IPSEC VPNs can create complex management and the ASG320 simplifies and centralizes that management.

While it was pegged with internally simulated traffic and nakedly exposed to the ravages of raw Internet traffic, the ASG320 sang. It detected ping and port scans and dozens of simultaneous connection attempts during the test. Forensic analysis of the system logs revealed attacks consistent with well-publicized viruses, but the sources were stopped dead. The ASG320 handled the traffic and reported attack bursts as expected, while suffering only slightly from the immense load it was operating under. Its intrusion protection and packet-filtering features performed as needed in an enterprise network.

The ASG320 comes with several management utilities to simplify administration. With its configuration backup utility you can save or upload your ASG320's configuration, or configure the system to mail the file to a specified e-mail address with the option of encryption. The ASG320 lets you update virus definitions, system patches, and security features using its System Up2Date service. SNMP access and traps are available services, as is remote system logging.

If you're worried about the ASG320 being a single point of failure, fear not for it comes with integrated high availability. High Availability Menu is configured with the first ASG320 set in Normal Mode and the second in Hot Standby Mode. Besides the data transfer connections, the standby system can monitor the active system via a serial interface.

With a rich interface, and a completely configurable host encompassing thousands of functions, the ASG320 can still make it easy to secure your network. It's designed for the data center and appears to benefit from a design driven by requirements that most data center managers would expect. System management, intrusions detection, packet filtering, and virus and spam protection are provided in an economical package with little management required beyond the initial configuration. Considering the price and functionality combined with ease of use this is an excellent solution for the small and medium-sized data center.

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More Stories By Matt Frye

Matt Frye is the Review Editor at, and Engineer in New Product Introduction and Emerging Network Solutions at Tekelec.

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LinuxWorld News Desk 07/17/05 01:25:42 PM EDT

Product Review: The Astaro Security Gateway 320
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