Netgear Improves Access and Security in Network Appliance

Small businesses often don’t have the resources or the need to deploy multiple network appliances to deliver both access and security. That’s where Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances come into play, delivering access and multiple layers of network security in a single box.

Networking vendor Netgear is expanding its UTM appliance product line today with a new UTM9S appliance that provides VDSL broadband capabilities. VDSL is the next generation of DSL broadband access and currently can deliver as much as 50 Megabits per second of access speed.

The UTM9S is a modular hardware appliance that allows small business to swap new modules into the device that can provide additional capabilities. Under the hood, the UTM9S uses Cavium processors and a hardened Linux operating system.

“Modular is important because it allows small businesses to future-proof themselves,” Jason Leung, senior product marketing manager at Netgear told “You can swap in more modules that we’ll produce further on down the line.”

Leung noted that the VDSL capabilities in the UTM9S are noteworthy since telecom vendors are now rolling out VDSL connectivity in the U.S. He added that by having a modular platform, Netgear’s UTM9S appliance lets small businesses add new modules as their connectivity needs change.

“Today we have the VDSL module, and it benefits small business because it’s simpler to use,” Leung said. “Every small business likes to have as many functions as it can in one box, as it gives them a simpler appliance to manage.”

The UTM9S also integrates with Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that a small business may have as part of its network. Leung explained that typically a UTM device will store security logs on the UTM, which can be limited in terms of storage. By providing integration with NAS, UTM logs can be stored more easily.

From a security perspective, the UTM9S has two anti-virus scanning engines to help detect security risks. One of those scanning engines comes from anti-virus vendor Sophos, though Netgear uses its own technology to help make the Sophos signatures more effective.

Leung explained that desktop anti-virus scanning technologies typically include anywhere from one million to three million virus signatures. UTMs run on less-powerful processors than those typically found on small business desktop and laptops. As a result, Leung said, UTMs typically provide fewer virus signatures than a desktop solution might provide. In order to offer more malware scanning for its appliance, Netgear uses patented technology called Stream Scanning.

“Stream Scanning is a way to look at files and data streams and run them through an anti-virus engine in massively parallel fashion,” Leung said.

The parallel approach drives increased scanning throughput, according to Leung. The increased throughput lets Netgear leverage the same number of signatures that can be run on a desktop.

“Something like 85 to 90 percent of our virus scans run through the Sophos engine, the other 10 to 15 percent goes through our own engine,” Leung said.

The Netgear engine specifically looks at HTML files for threats. The UTM9S also provides an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) to protect against network layer attacks. The UTM9S uses IPS signatures from the open source SNORT project as well as ones developed by Netgear. While the UTM9S is able to do both anti-virus and IPS security in one box, Leung noted that it’s not necessarily a replacement for a dedicated IPS device.

“UTM appliances are very good at what they do, but they are not a dedicated IPS,” Leung said. “There is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo in the security space and people that aren’t familiar with the space sometimes see IPS as a checkbox item.”

Leung noted that there is a reason why there are also $30,000 IPS devices from vendors like HP TippingPoint, and that’s because those bigger devices are purpose-built to protect data centers.

“No one appliance can possibly be your entire security solution,” Leung said. “Network appliances like UTM are part of the solution. That being said, the UTM9S is targeted towards small business, and it protects users — not a data center environment.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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