McAfee has produced a line of multi-purpose Internet security appliances for content filtering, taking its first step into gateway-based anti-spyware protection.

McAfee’s Secure Web Gateway, available as a 100Mbit/s model 3300 or a 200Mbit/s model 3400, fends off spyware and viruses and provides URL-based filtering. In a recent review, it earned the top score and was effective in detecting and blocking 90 percent of the spyware launched against it, narrowly beating out competing products from Trend Micro, Aladdin Knowledge Systems and Blue Coat Systems.

McAfee also announced a second appliance, the Secure Messaging Gateway, which filters out viruses and spam at the rate of up to 210,000 messages per hour.

A third appliance, the Secure Internet Gateway, combines Secure Web Gateway and Secure Messaging Gateway into an appliance for up to 1,000 users. It’s available in two models, the 3100, which can filter up to 60,000 messages per hour, and the 3200, which can filter 120,000.

All three appliances can be managed using McAfee’s central management console, ePolicy Orchestrator.

McAfee senior product marketing manager Jack Marsal said the new line replaces McAfee’s lower-speed WebShield line, which he acknowledged had been a sales failure.

Marsal said McAfee was neutral on the question of whether enterprise customers should use a gateway, desktop software or both to protect against spyware. "Both have their strengths, but we have no official recommendation for one or the other," he said.

Once a desktop becomes infected, desktop anti-spyware is an efficient way to remove the infection rather than struggling with it manually, Marsal pointed out. "But there is better price-performance on the gateway side."