WatchGuard Firebox Peak X5500e firewall

WatchGuard Firebox: Fiery performer at a nice price

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Watchguard Firebox Peak X5500e
  • Watchguard Firebox Peak X5500e
  • Watchguard Firebox Peak X5500e
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Client/server-based management system allows true offline editing of configuration, high throughput even when handling attacks, can turn on additional in-the-box features through licensing

Cons

  • Blocked only a third of the attacks in our test, complex user interface, desperately needs wizards for common setup tasks (public server, VPN), must be online for initial setup, to download updates and user interface

Bottom Line

WatchGuard Firebox Peak X5500e isn't easy to set up, but its use of XML configuration files works wonders for managing configuration across any number of devices and locations. Apart from complex initial configuration, this is a highly manageable, enterprise-grade, proxy-based firewall with impressive throughput, granular control, and an excellent price.

Would you buy this?

Though the Firebox proved faster than the SonicWall when under attack, its ability to turn away those attacks paled in comparison. The Firebox blocked only 33 percent of the malware we threw at it, while the SonicWall notched a 96 percent success rate. Like the other UTMs in our test, the Firebox does not provide a significant level of protection against vulnerability-based exploits.

However, the Firebox certainly provides a level of protection greater than its 33 percent success rate would indicate. In order to run our Web, FTP, and e-mail vulnerability exploits, we had to loosen up the Firebox's firewall rules and allow ICMP traffic. In other words, we had to run the Firebox in a way that WatchGuard does not recommend. The result was that the box was exposed to more attacks than if we had followed the vendor's best practices. If we had run the Firebox with tighter rules, would it have blocked as many of the exploits as the SonicWall? Our gut tells us no, but it would have been a better horse race.

Our short take on the WatchGuard Firebox? It forces you to adopt procedures that should be part of your best practices anyway. If you want something that will slide into a network and let traffic flow until you get all your firewall rules figured out, you'll be completely frustrated by the Firebox. If you want to deploy a secure system in a secure way, though, WatchGuard has provided a box that will work with you to make (and keep) your network safe. It's a strong and granular firewall that offers a lot of control. Just keep in mind that the success of its UTM function is highly dependent on using its firewall features to tightly lock down the types of traffic that are allowed to pass.

Base price: US$5,990. Price as tested: $9,299 including Gateway AV/IPS, WebBlocker URL filtering, and spamBlocker anti-spam.

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