Review: Active Protection Software 3.0

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Review: Active Protection Software 3.0

This software-only product can be deployed as an inline IDS, inline IPS, or deployed off of a tap. Additionally, it can provide detailed threat and asset correlation using its comprehensive surrounding asset knowledge module (SAK).

This feature locates potential trouble areas before they become a problem. Finally, it has a learning mode that can be deployed in the network before implementing policy, which helps take the guesswork out of policy configuration.

To say this product is challenging to deploy would be an understatement. Once the software is purchased, it needs a computer to go on. CounterSnipe has designed this software to be compatible only with the exact specifications that are described in the documentation.

We found that if the platform has different hardware, the application will not work. We wish that CounterSnipe had stuck with their popular appliance rather than go to a software-only implementation.

The rest of the set-up was fairly straightforward, but managing policy on the device is a tangled maze of configuration levels. It becomes confusing very quickly. Additionally, the Java-based management interface is slow and awkward to navigate.

We found this device to have good performance. It was able to stop most of the bad traffic from our scanners and we found ourselves unable to penetrate the protected network. The event log also provided near real-time event descriptions that were clear and understandable.

The documentation for this product is light. The software came with a small two-sheet quick start guide that gives the hardware requirements and steps to install the software.

CounterSnipe offers 24/7/365 support, but we had to search for any description of support programs. We found a brief discussion in a PDF file entitled "professional services" buried on the website. Substantive support appears to be an extra cost item and is available in standard and platinum packages.

With a price just under US$5,000, this product looks on the surface to be a bargain for almost any company, but after a deeper look this deal may not be so sweet.

An appliance has to be purchased separately and that plus the added difficulty of managing this product adds to cost of ownership. All in all, this product is a somewhat less than average value for money.

For: A wide range of deployment options with a learning mode that can be put in place beforehand.
Against: Difficult to manage and configure, awkward documentation, cost of ownership
Verdict: A product with solid features and performance, but setting it up can be quite challenging.

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