Network security software and appliances are integrated devices dedicated to providing some or all of the usual network-related security functions. The network security appliance usually acts as the gateway between the unsecured outside world (Internet) and the hopefully secure inside world of servers, LANs, users and their applications.
A network security appliance can be a dedicated single purpose device, such as the iSentinal™, installed at the gateway to a LAN or as the front end to a single remote user. Some of the functions incorporated in a network security appliance are: firewall, HTTP proxy server (with or without URL filtering), load balancing or VPN tunnel provider. Or it can be a combination of some or all of the above. In many cases, the number of users being serviced behind the security appliance becomes the deciding factor as to how many network security applications are integrated into a single device.
In addition to properly performing all of the required security functions, a well-designed fully integrated network security appliance provides the network administrator with a suite of reports so that all aspects of network security can be monitored and easily evaluated. URL filtering generates reports identifying which users are attempting to access defined filtered sites, which sites and the time of attempted access.
A critical aspect of a properly designed network security appliance is the ease of installation and administration.