SurfControl Web Filter
Strengths: Easy to deploy, configure and use. Virtual Control Agent uses known information to make decisions about unknown sites. Realtime, easy-to-read report center makes identifying use of the network easy.
Weaknesses: This product can become expensive if used for large networks, as pricing is based on a per user basis. Documentation could be a bit easier to access and support should be 24-7.
Verdict: Established product with a strong, and well-deserved reputation
This venerable product is, as one would expect from one with its pedigree, fully loaded with features. As well as a full-service customizable URL filter, SurfControl contains an anti-spam agent, spyware shield, instant messaging and peer-to-peer shields, anti-virus, and games protection. The differences between this product and our Best Buys are minimal and we rate SurfControl highly recommended.
Deny pages, which can contain information specific to why a user cannot access certain pages, are fully customizable for the company or network. The most useful feature of SurfControl is the Virtual Control Agent or VCA. This agent uses already known information to help categorize unknown sites, which keeps the user from accessing a site that could be inappropriate but may not be on a blacklist currently.
However, SurfControl contains a database comprised of 54 categories that contain over 14 million URLs, so it is very difficult to find something that the filter does not already know.
SurfControl has most of the product documentation online in the support area of the website. Documentation for this product is very easy to find as it is broken down into various sections and version numbers. Quick start guides and installation documentation also are included on the product’s installation CD.
SurfControl offers telephone support Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, as well as online support by email. Our only objection here is that we would have expected 24/7 support (this is only available to "Platinum" customers). If a problem arises at night on the network that involves SurfControl, administrators are not going to want to disable the product until 8 a.m. the next day when support becomes available.