ModusGate Secure Email Management Gateway
Strengths: Uses a variety of strategies to filter out spam.
Weaknesses: Limited reporting options.
Verdict: An effective system with an original approach.
Vircom’s ModusGate software claims high hardware requirements, but this is a mistake in the documentation. It runs on a modest server with Windows 2000 or 2003 Server software. It also needs .NET 1.1. It will use Microsoft’s SQL Server software, but it will also install the Postgres DBMS for its own use. Installation is straightforward, and the supplied documentation has all the required information.
The system’s administration interface is a free-standing Windows program running at the server. It gives control over all aspects of the system. From here, you can determine which mail servers will be filtered, which user authentication schemes will be used, and which filtering options will be applied to each system.
There is a help option on the menu bar, but it is simply an online version of the printed documentation, and although not completely context-sensitive, the system opens to the relevant part of the documentation according to the current function.
The administration console can also be installed on another system and, with a bit of registry tweaking, can administer the ModusGate remotely. Remote administration is also possible via a web browser, but only for specified users.
The system offers a full range of email filtering options, including SMTP validation. It can scan attachments and automatically block any password-protected encrypted files, and also block attachments according to their extension types. It can use several external whitelist and blacklist servers, and also makes use of the Sieve system to filter email using a wide range of filtering scripts.
The Sieve system is extendable with custom-built scripts, and while network support staff might lack this particular skill, Vircom is well versed in it and is continually developing new scripts. Vircom also provides the Sequential Content Analyser software to scan email for spam.
The system’s state can be monitored via a web browser.
Separating these functions out in this way not only allows the system to be monitored remotely, but also provides the option to delegate monitoring to a different set of network staff as those charged with system maintenance. Reporting options can be set for domains and for individual users.