This is a bit of an odd duck in our list because it fills a very specific, critically important and somewhat narrow niche. Having discovered this appliance a few years back, I knew SC Magazine readers would love to learn about it. So we planned to put it through its paces as part of the the SC Lab review process. That was the beginning of a journey of discovery and a bit of frustration.
Why frustration? As most of you know, SC Magazine has been reviewing products for years and years by compartmentalizing them into monthly Group Tests. This allows the products to fit neatly together so that our reviewers can do a nice, clean set of tests that the readers see as being somewhat coherent. You can't build a group around the MU4000, however, because it is unique. Although we stuffed it into vulnerability assessment, that really wasn't as good a choice as we had wished for, but it was the best we could do.
Then we needed to learn what this box was capable of. Fat chance. We're still finding cool functions that we can coax out of the 4000. To make that even more exciting, Mu keeps adding support, new test capabilities, an expanded test suite, etc. Just when we think it is at its limits, the Mu4000 does something new and exciting. That's our kind of product and that is why we awarded it our Lab Approved designation, as well as bestowing a year-end Innovator title to Mu Dynamics.
The device is used to test modules that operate based on protocols. At its heart, then, the Mu4000 is a communications tester on steroids. But because of how it tests - some at Mu refer to it as "stateful fuzzing" and I call it "protocol mutation" - it is capable of testing a protocol implementation for every way that it might be divergent from the protocol standard against which it is supposed to be coded. The result is that it can pinpoint hidden communication failure modes, especially those that might be exploited.
This is a sophisticated tool, but when faced with sophisticated problems, you need the biggest gun you can find. In this case, the Mu4000 foots the bill nicely.