Astaro's Security Linux 5.1 takes the open source Linux software and hardens it, but also adds commercial software for a complete security package. It comes with six components: firewall, VPN, anti-virus (provided by Kaspersky), content filtering, anti-spam and intrusion prevention.
Installation is fully automated from the bootable CD and surprisingly easy to configure. One of the best aspects of this software is its low system requirements, with only a 400MHz Pentium II processor needed. While this spec will happily deal with a small firm, larger enterprises should run the software on a much higher specification machine.
Once installed, all the components are managed through the secure web interface, so you do not have to be a Linux expert. The web interface is really well designed and very simple to use.
The firewall is very easy to configure and has proxies for common services including HTTP, FTP and SMTP, letting it drill down into each connection and scan the content. The proxies are also used to pass data to the anti-spam and anti-virus engines and, in the case of HTTP, cache the traffic.
For other services, there is also a full stateful inspection engine for packet filtering. By default, the system is configured to block all traffic, so it is secure right from the start.
Unusually, for a product so cheap, it comes with load balancing as standard. While not as complex as the systems used in high-end devices, it helps scale the firewall as the network grows, while building-in redundancy.
The open source Snort intrusion detection engine, which will also block damaging traffic is simple to manage, while the reporting tools help you find out which rules have fired so you can fine tune the system for your network.
For the price, you get a whole lot of features – many more than we can mention here. The management is among the best we've seen in this group test, while the powerful firewall keeps up with the best.
Considering the low system requirements, Astaro's Security Linux is a great buy.