Antivirus hardware?

Usually when someone says "antivirus," you think software. Antivirus software comes in many flavors: server-based, client-based, gateway scanners. But it can often cost you more for each version, and the software won't work properly without all the components. Are there options other than software? Some companies are touting hardware solutions that can be applied to the virus problem.

Interestingly, most antivirus hardware solutions are not applied to the problem in the same way. Some focus more on e-mail filtering, and some scan all HTTP and FTP traffic. The one common aspect of them all, is that they are usually associated with one of the main antivirus software companies, either as a partner of a particular company or originating directly from an antivirus-software provider.

These products are called antivirus appliances and, like most network appliances, can usually be plugged in between your firewall and your network, and be expected to do the job with minimal configuration.

The main positives touted by the companies that make these appliances is that they are scalable, less expensive over the long term and easy to configure. Since most antivirus software depends on updates that need to be spread around multiple machines, having a central solution can sound very appealing. Antivirus is well suited to the plug-and-play nature of a network appliance. If you choose to pursue one of these products, depending on your company's needs, appliances that combine antivirus measures with other security functions like firewalling and intrusion detection, can be appealing. But don't overlook the ability of single-purpose appliances to mix and match products.

Following is a sampling of some of the antivirus appliances on the market:

About the author
Benjamin Vigil is a Technical Editor for SearchSecurity.com.

This was first published in September 2002

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