Review: CronLab Light 1100 anti-spam appliance

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Review: CronLab Light 1100 anti-spam appliance

Could this be the perfect anti-spam appliance for small businesses?

Small businesses need anti-spam measures as much as the big boys, but often don’t have the time or expertise many appliances demand. UK-based CronLab’s Light 1100 aims to circumvent this by offering a simple installation and maintenance-free operation.

This compact, quiet desktop box targets businesses of up to 70 users and provides anti-spam and antivirus measures along with phishing, spyware and spoofing protection. It has the open source SpamAssassin with a complete set of policies, and CronLab also adds some proprietary touches.

ClamAV handles viruses and CronLab told us it can add BitDefender too. Updates are handled automatically and you have no access to the anti-spam policies or the scoring system as these are all looked after by CronLab.

We dropped the appliance in a live environment where it would be dealing with real mail. This meant its IP reputation filters would get a full workout and we could see how it handled emerging threats. Using a local monitor and keyboard, you provide an IP address, gateway and DNS servers and then move over to the intuitive web interface to add a mail domain and the URL and port number of your mail server. Our last job was to change the DNS MX record at our ISP so that all mail went to the appliance.

In ten minutes, we had the appliance filtering live mail, with no changes required on our clients. Mail arrived, was filtered and sent to our ISP where users picked it up. The appliance can filter outbound mail too. You don’t need to populate the appliance with user accounts as it updates its internal list and creates accounts with valid addresses as they come in. Each user has a personal Message Centre, and the appliance generates a password and emails it to them the first time they log in.

Daily or weekly spam digests are sent out to each user with a link to the appliance. They can view their own quarantine area and release or delete messages; the appliance updates its rules with each action.
Footers are added to inbound and outbound mail but users can switch these off for their own account. Phishing messages have warnings inserted too, but the user can advise the appliance from the Message Centre if the site is known to be safe.

After three weeks, the appliance recorded over 4,000 inbound messages, of which over half were blocked at the gateway. False positives were extremely low and only 22 spam messages slipped through, an impressive detection rate of 99.1%.

When we tested Barracuda’s Spam and Virus Firewall 100, we found its detection rate wasn’t as good as CronLab’s, and it also required a lot of tinkering with its scoring system to prevent excessive false positives. The Light 1100 costs more but it’s a lot easier to deploy, requires minimal ongoing administration and its performance can’t be faulted.

This article originally appeared at

Takes 10 minutes to deploy, requires hardly any ongoing administration and performs well

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