Review: Clearswift MIMEsweeper Web Appliance

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Review: Clearswift MIMEsweeper Web Appliance

Clearswift's MIMEsweeper appliance takes web content management to the next level. This device is loaded with features way beyond the usual web filter.

The main focus is on new emerging threats specific to Web 2.0 and time-wasting social networking sites. Other capabilities include URL filtering, anti-malware from Kaspersky, anti-spyware from Aluria, HTTPS traffic scanning and data leakage protection.

This product is fairly easy to use. The initial setup is done following seven simple steps in the quick-start guide. There is a brief setup wizard for the initial configuration, which we found easy to follow, and we were up and running in no time. The web GUI is fairly intuitive as well.

However, we did have to spend a few minutes getting used to the layout and policy management. We found ourselves going around in circles in the policy manager trying to figure out exactly what we were supposed to do.

The MIMEsweeper appliance is very flexible and customisable. There are many predefined rule sets that can be used as they are or customised to fit specific needs of the environment.

One thing we really struggled with, however, was working out how to configure rules and policy routes. The policy engine is not intuitive at all and we found we actually made things worse as we clicked around trying to apply policy.

Documentation comprises a large quick-start card and a help file on the appliance. There is also an administrator guide available to download from the website, but we were not able to view this document without a support contract with Clearswift. The quick-start card illustrates the initial setup process quite well. The on-appliance help is not as good, only offering very basic information.

Clearswift does offer phone and email support, as well as many other support options on a contract basis. We found a large support area on the website as well. This area includes documentation downloads, product patches, technical notes and sample policies. Access to some of these is restricted to customers with contracts.

At a hefty price of US$25,000, this product does weigh in on the higher end of the price spectrum. We would rate this product an average value for money. It does have a highly comprehensive feature set with a lot of granularity available. However, we found it difficult to manage in certain areas.

For: Highly comprehensive feature set with many bells and whistles such as protection from malware
Against: Policy is difficult to configure
Verdict: A powerhouse with some management challenges, and at a hefty price


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