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Other Notes

In addition to the basic functionality that we have described so far, there are some other options/settings available on the SSL312 that I want to take a minute to mention since they offer a variety of configuration options, utilities, and information on the status of the SSL312. In the management side of the SSL312 under the System Configuration link, you will find options that allow you to work with SSL certificates, to change logging settings, to back up your SSL312 configuration, and to upgrade the firmware.

The SSL312 comes with a default certificate already installed; however, you can import your own certificate should you have one. Syslog logging is also supported by the SSL312 for logging if you have a syslog server. You can also set up the SSL312 to email log files to you every so often based on criteria that you specify. Under the Access Administration link, you can administer users, groups, and domains. You can also configure global settings for the VPN tunnel and port forwarding functionality.

The SSL312 has quite a bit of policy control designed to help restrict the operations users can perform. This area is also where you would configure an Active Directory domain if you want to use it as your user authentication source. The Monitoring link allows you to check up on the current status of the SSL312, see the active users, and check the event log. You can also remotely reboot the SSL312 from this area if necessary. And finally, the SSL VPN Portal link allows you to control the layout of what functionality is available for users when they login. It also allows you to have some limited control over how the portal will look by allowing you to do things such as uploading a custom banner graphic for the portal.

So how does the SSL312 compare to a free SSL VPN implemented with SSL-Explorer? One of the things that I liked a little better in SSL-Explorer was the overall look and feel of the GUI. It did not feel as polished as the SSL-Explorer GUI. There were times when I felt that some of the terms used to describe the various settings might confuse users. Both the user portal and the management components were similar in this regard. The port forwarding features were very much like SSL-Explorer and it performed similarly.

However, the VPN tunnel feature does not exist in SSL-Explorer unless you buy their Enterprise version, or recently-announced $99 home/academic version. In SSL-Explorer, the VPN tunnel functionality is currently implemented by a small JAVA client. Netgear appears to be moving in the same direction in order to "open up" usage by other popular browsers that do not support Microsoft's ActiveX technology. Another thing that is available in SSL-Explorer but that does not exist in the SSL312 is the ability to package custom applications (like TightVNC or WinSCP) for distribution through the VPN connection.

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