Network Security Appliance for Free: Untangle

About a year ago a good friend, Bobby Shea, introduced me to Untangle.  I finally got around to implementing it on my network and I’ve found it to be an amazing system.

Untangle is an open source scaled down Linux implementation that can turn your old throw away PCs into commercial grade network appliances.  Why spend several hundred to several thousand dollars, when chances are that you’ve got the requisite hardware just sitting around gathering dust.  You’ll likely have to add a NIC or two, but otherwise, that’s it!  Oh, and it can even be virtualized.

Untangles features include:

– Spam Blocker
– Web Content Filter
– Protocol Controls
– Virus Blocker
– Spyware Blocker
– Phish Blocker
– Intrusion Detection and Prevention
– Attack Blocker
– Firewall
– OpenVPN (SSL)
– Routing and QoS (including VOIP support)
– Detailed Reporting

All of that is free, delivered via Open Source packages.  Not to mention since it’s Open Source, it’s very well documented by the developers and the users.

There are a few Commercial Add-Ons that are available as well that will integrate Untangle with your enterprises Active Directory, allow for PC Remoting, and even serve as a Remote Access portal.

Installation and Implementation:

I’ve installed a lot of software over the years and I’ve got to tell you that this package is about as easy to install as it gets.  The only real technical knowledge you need to install and manage Untangle, is knowledge about your network infrastructure.  Afraid of the Linux side of things?  Don’t be.  I’ve been running it for months and I have never had to console in, even during the installation.

Maintenance and Day-To-Day Operations:

The system primarily manages itself, though you may find yourself opening the "rack" simply because it looks very cool.

untangle

It presents itself as a rack system with easy access to all the information you need about the system’s status.  It includes live stats as well as reports that can be aggregated by day, week, and month.

Oh, and did I mention that the product updates itself by default with no interaction required by the admins?

The Pitch:

Untangles website and wiki will give you all the information that you need you decide whether the product is right for you as well as installation and maintenance.  You can even play with a live Untangle server that is already set up.

So before you spend money on an expensive network security solution, at least check out Untangle.  You may be surprised by what you can accomplish for little to no investment.  Besides you can always stand it up in a lab and try to poke holes in it.  Just because it’s not expensive doesn’t mean that it’s not secure.

Links:

Untangle Website
Untangle Wiki

For the record, I have no affiliation with Untangle with the exception of utilzing the product. 😉

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