SurfControl Web Filter


SurfControl's Web Filter is, perhaps, the best known web filtering product on the market. We reviewed the Windows version of the product, but there are also versions available for Cisco CE, Check Point, Microsoft ISA and several third-party appliances, including Blue Coat and Finjan, both in this test. The standard Windows version is flexible – but you will need one copy of the filter per network.

Management is through the SurfControl Rules Administrator, an application that hasn't changed much over the years. It might look a little dated, but it is a powerful and flexible tool and its object-oriented approach works well.

Each rule works on a who, when and where basis. Rules also have a "traffic light" associated with them: green for allow, amber to monitor, and red to deny. By defining objects for each, it is incredibly simple to drag them into a rule that, for example, allows the finance department to access travel websites between 12 and 1pm. The drag-and-drop option means you can use the same building blocks many times, cutting down on the amount of management you need to do.

SurfControl provides an excellent categories list, and its database is updated automatically.

Simple URL filtering is not the only trick Web Filter has. You can also block categories by bandwidth and by time. So you can limit access to shopping websites to 30 minutes a day, or music download sites to a maximum of 10MB. Once limits are reached, sites in the category are blocked.

As well as categories, Web Filter can be set to monitor file downloads, such as MP3s, and block them. You can also choose which protocols you want to allow.

You can even create customized block pages for each category, so that your users know exactly why their web request has been denied. It successfully blocked all of our test traffic including the HTTP-Tunnel software.

Powerful and easy to manage, Web Filter covers all the basics and a whole lot more. For comprehensive web filtering, there aren't any better products.

Product title
SurfControl Web Filter
Product info
Name: SurfControl Web Filter (Group Test: Web filtering) Description: Price: $5,700 suite license, $6,988 yearly per db (500 users)
Large URL database; powerful rules engine.
Management interface looks a little dated.
Powerful and flexible, SurfControl's Web Filter has an extensive URL database and is very easy to configure.

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