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Check Point Safe@Office 1000N: Enterprise grade security for branch offices

By James E. Gaskin, Network World
August 09, 2010 12:02 AM ET

Network World - It's hard to miss a Check Point appliance, because they all have bright orange boxes and bright yellow front panels. The 1000N is no exception, and the small metal box with the gaudy paint job stands out. Check Point has a large number of security products, but the Safe@Office 1000N and the wireless enabled 1000NW are the only small business specific products.

Supersize your WAN

All the connections are on the back of the box, with status lights on the front. There are four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports, one dedicated WAN port, a combo WAN2/DMZ port, and a console RJ45 serial port. Accessories include a serial to RJ-45 cable for command line fans, an Ethernet patch cable, a documentation CD, an illustrated Getting Started Guide, and a sales pitch for optional advanced services features.

Check Point calls the 1000N a firewall more than a router, and they advertise gigabit throughput, plus 400 VPN tunnels that can run as fast as 200Mbps. You can also run two 1000N units linked together for high availability.

Since there are multiple optional software modules, setting the price for the 1000N can be difficult. Check Point says the price starts at $750, but street prices range from $850 to $1,250 depending on the number of users and the installed modules. The price tag may give smaller businesses pause, but IT departments buying for branch offices can justify the price based on the firewall throughput speeds and comprehensive security modules available.

Installation and configuration

Following the Getting Started Guide is easy. Connect WAN1, connect your network and configuration computer, and turn on the 1000N. The client will receive a DHCP address in the 192.168.10.x range, slightly different than most default addresses. You don't have to remember that, however, to connect to the admin utility, because you use http://my.firewall to access the router.

The setup wizard forces you to set a password with at least five characters, then the Internet wizard takes over. Perhaps "wizard" is a little overblown, since it basically asks for the type of broadband connection, then tries to connect. We linked up first time with no issues. Almost immediately we had Internet access through the 1000N.

Changing the LAN IP address range was also simple. Both the LAN IP address settings and DHCP range are on the Network > My Network page, found by clicking the Edit icon on the LAN section. Reboots all around, and the LAN address is changed

Adding in the second WAN link was also simple. Network > Internet page, then edit the secondary WAN link. A quick trip through the WAN choices, rebooted the cable modem, and the 1000N grabbed hold and connected.

Just below the Internet connection listing is the WAN Load Balancing controls. They use a very simple metaphor: an on/off switch. Slide the switch to 'On' and both lines share traffic. You have no control over what type of load balancing is used, but you can set the ratios between the two WAN connections.

We found that the control is hidden far too deeply. You have to click through Network > Internet > Edit Connection > Show Advanced Settings, then scroll to the bottom of the page to the Load Balancing Weight field. The default is a 50/50 traffic split between broadband lines.

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