M86 Web Filter
Strengths: Highly configurable, feature-packed appliance.
Weaknesses: Can be pricey for some environments.
Verdict: M86 is a venerable player in this market with superior field research and solid products. This really deserves your attention if you can afford a bit higher price tag for WCM.
SummaryThe Web Filter from M86 is a highly configurable web filter and reporting engine designed for even the largest of environments. This product includes a web filter that not only uses URLs and keywords but also IP addresses and packet footprint data from a large library to stay up to date on problem sites. It also features a large list of more than 90 applications it can block, including IM and P2P applications.
Even though this appliance has a highly comprehensive feature set, it is still quite easy to deploy and configure. The initial configuration is done by connecting a monitor and keyboard to the appliance itself and running through a short text-based setup wizard. This wizard helps set the IP and network information, as well as the initial username and password, to access the appliance through the web GUI. After the setup wizard is complete, the web GUI is accessed from a computer on the network where a few minor steps to complete initial configuration are done. From there the appliance is up and running and all further management is done via the web-based interface.
This appliance features several policy options, including the "X-Strikes" setting. With this setting, administrators can create a policy-violation threshold that will lock a user's computer. To unlock it they will need to contact the administrator. The M86 Web Filter also incorporates safe-search technology, as well as advanced internet usage policy controls.
M86 offers full, 24/7 support to customers as part of its annual subscription service.
At a price of $24,415 for the hardware, software, one year of support and reporting for 1,000 users, this product is not inexpensive by any means. However, we do find it to be a solid value for large environments that require granular control and a lot of flexibility.