Check Point Appliance Ably Guards Networks

InterSpect 610 system provides innovative, but pricey, inside-out protection.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.s InterSpect 610 provides an Internal Security Gateway—an intrusion protection system designed to protect networks from exploits entering the network via laptops and mobile devices. However, although the appliance admirably protects the network core from attacks, its overall efficacy depends heavily on the users network architecture.

In eWEEK Labs tests, the InterSpect appliance effectively segmented the LAN and filtered exploitable LAN protocols for worms and exploits. Deployed between the workgroup switch and the aggregation switch in the network core, the InterSpect Stateful Inspection and Application Intelligence engines repel threats that get to the network behind perimeter defenses via mobile devices.

However, if code from an infected system infiltrates the network, the InterSpect cannot protect the rest of the segment from flash worms propagating via LAN protocols—a potential problem for companies with relatively flat network structures.

The InterSpect provides some HTTP and FTP defenses, but protection for other Internet protocols is limited; Check Point presumes that these protocols will be effectively trapped by other layers of network defense.

The InterSpect 610 started shipping in January and includes a one-year SmartDefense subscription in the base price of $36,000. Adding a year to this signature update service costs $1,000 per device per year. An additional quad-port Gigabit Ethernet interface costs $1,650.

Check Point also offers the InterSpect 410 model, with the same software build and hardware chassis—minus one CPU and redundant power—for $18,000. Although the 610 promises twice as much throughput as the 410 delivers, along with unlimited virtual LAN support, its a steep jump in price for $1,000 worth of parts. (Customers thinking of bumping up the components themselves should note that this will void the warranty.)

The InterSpect 610 comes pre-installed with Check Points Linux-based SecurePlatform operating system, housed in a 1U (1.75-inch) Dell Inc. PowerEdge 1750 server chassis, which includes two 3.06MHz processors, 1GB of memory, redundant power supplies and four copper Gigabit Ethernet connections.

The InterSpect 610 supports 10 Ethernet ports. One of the ports is a dedicated management port; filtering is performed on the others. The management port provides out-of-band access for a client with Check Points Windows-based SmartDashboard management client installed.

When we changed the IP address of the management port after initial configuration, malfunctions occurred because the integrated certificate authority is based on the initial address. Check Point will fix this in a future build, officials said.

When we infected an unpatched test system with the Nimda and Blaster worms, Blaster spread like wildfire to other unpatched systems in the segment. However, the InterSpect effectively blocked both attacks from reaching the network core, quarantining infected devices and logging alerts per our policy.

The InterSpect also performs some protocol anomaly and conformance checks. In tests, the InterSpect identified HTTP traffic with excessively long headers or binary data in the header.

Technical Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at