SurfControl is, arguably, the granddaddy of the web content filtering class. Supplied as software, this product requires its own server platform running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and SQLServer. Its straightforward, drag-and-drop rules engine makes policy creation easy. However, we found deployment, set-up and configuration to be more demanding than other products of its class.
Web Filter may be integrated with Windows, ISA, Novell Border Manager, Blue Coat, Check Point, Citrix, Cisco, Juniper and others. The product’s policy engine allows application of policies in a flexible manner and there is a Mobile Filter that extends SurfControl’s capability to remote users. Web Filter integrates, as well, with other SurfControl products.
Documentation is strong. The installation guide provides detailed deployment instructions and set-up information. The administrator’s guide provides configuration rule management information, and all guides include diagrams and screen shots. Reporting is extensive and offers clear insight into internet user activity.
Surf Control provides the typical URL filtering, content filtering, as well as instant messaging, peer-to-peer, streaming media, file downloads, and web-based email filtering. There also is protection against viruses, spyware and some blended threats. The product allows administrators to create their own categories and threat definitions. The internet threat database contains over 20 million entries and is updated regularly. Updates are delivered to Web Filter automatically.
Support is broken down by platform. Additionally, the support site provides product documentation, upgrade information and instructions, common errors and access to technical support. Phone support is available during business hours. The site offers downloads of user guides, upgrade instructions, white papers, as well as a knowledge base and training opportunities.
Cost per user is at the high end of the scale and this includes standard support and maintenance for the first year. Given that the product requires its own server — as well as Microsoft SQL Server — this makes cost of ownership relatively high.