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You get a default portal layout provided but you can assign a different one to each authentication scheme and this determines precisely what a user is allowed to access. You can display a message on the home page, activate the ActiveX cache cleaner, add your own custom banners and graphics, decide what pages are to be displayed and what services will be available. Specific applications can be defined within the portal although we had to modify Netgear’s predefined Office applications as they all pointed to the wrong executable location for Office 2003. It was also annoying that they can’t be edited but must be deleted and new ones created in their place.
Nevertheless, these will appear to the user in their portal and selecting one fires up a Terminal Services session over RDP5 for the selected application only. You can’t access anything else on the remote system and when you close the application the entire session will be terminated. You can access Windows XP and Server systems and for the former you need to make sure that the Remote Desktop function in the System Properties is ticked.
Selecting the VPN Tunnel option creates a virtual network adapter which takes its IP address from the range you defined on the appliance. This provides full access to the local network and shuts down the moment the browser is closed. If you want tighter control you can use the port forwarding option which is actually identical to Billion’s Network Extender feature and uses the same ActiveX control at the client which is a lighter version than the standard VPN Tunnel client. You use this is you want to define applications by their IP address and port number. You also get a Network Places option which provides a simple Windows Explorer style interface for browsing remote networks and uploading or downloading files.
For the price Netgear is offering a very well featured SSL-VPN appliance. It doesn’t offer the same firewall protection, traffic management, packet filtering and QoS features available with the Billion alternative but many businesses may already have these in place making the SSL312 a better choice for secure remote access.