Review: Cisco Meraki MX64 Tightens Network Security

This network appliance offers budget-friendly protection and options to tailor access to different users.

Managing and protecting a busy network primarily for the benefit of inexperienced users, like those in a K–12 school, can be challenging. 

The obstacles are compounded by limited IT budgets and staff. Some schools and districts share those IT resources with other facilities in their county or state. And schools are subjected to the same types of cyberattacks that plague businesses and other organizations.

The Cisco Meraki MX64 cloud-managed security appliance can protect those environments from cyberthreats without taxing IT budgets. It can help with intrusion protection, anti-virus and content filtering, and can create secure VPN tunnels for authorized users. 

But unlike most security appliances, the MX64 can be installed in seconds and managed over the cloud. Here’s how that works: The appliance connects to a Cisco Meraki data center through the cloud, getting all of its firmware upgrades through an SSL connection. Administrators manage the device the same way, using a simple graphical interface. Technical expertise is not required to install the MX64 at a school and manage it remotely through the cloud — a plus for districts with limited IT staff.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Balancing Act: Cybersecurity in the Connected Classroom

Control User Search Options and Prioritize Bandwidth Use for Apps

The MX64 has Layer 7 functionality and automatically integrates with Microsoft Active Directory, which means it can enforce content filtering options for various groups, applications or individual users. The device’s features also include web search filters that are quite granular; for instance, granting teachers and administrators greater access than students or restricting a student’s access to content based on age or grade level. Google SafeSearch and YouTube for Schools are also included.

Different applications or users can be given bandwidth priority so critical applications aren’t slowed during periods of peak use. And regardless of how bandwidth is configured, the Cisco Threat Grid and advanced malware protection cover all traffic.

There is an entire line of Meraki security appliances. The MX64, designed for the smallest number of users, can simultaneously support 50 concurrent users as well as 50 VPN tunnels, and multiple appliances can be stacked for additional bandwidth if needed. Larger institutions can choose an enterprise model, such as the MX84 (which supports 500 users) or the MX450 (which can handle up to 10,000 clients).

Thankfully for schools, small IT budgets don’t have to mean weak cybersecurity. The MX64 offers protection while streamlining most of the administrative homework that such an effort would normally entail.

MORE FROM EDTECH: 5 Considerations for Buying Classroom Technology

Cisco Meraki MX64

Easy Integration with Other Networked Devices

Meraki devices are built with enough processing power and memory that none of the administrative functions or interactions with the cloud impact performance. Settings are stored locally, so an interrupted connection also won’t impact performance. Those rules hold true for the MX64. It never slowed, even when processing large payloads of data.

Cisco data centers run the Meraki cloud management platform, so all firmware updates to Meraki devices are provided securely without any user intervention. This also allows management and policy changes though the same SSL connection that each device creates with the data center.

Once installed, the MX64 immediately joins other Meraki devices and are easily linked. For example, the MX64 quickly routed and protected a Cisco Meraki security camera’s feeds, even giving it priority access after hours when nothing else should be running at our virtual school.

It’s good for schools and smaller institutions to have an easy-to-use security device. It’s great for them to have one that integrates with other devices and includes self-configuration and easy management features. The ability to securely manage the device along with potentially thousands of others from anywhere in world further elevates the Meraki functionality. Regardless of the size of a school’s network, the Meraki cloud management software that comes with the MX64 will keep schools and classrooms protected. 

CISCO MERAKI MX64

Firewall throughput:: 250Mbps
Max concurrent users: 1.3 million
VPN Throughput: 100
Operational power consumption: 10 watts
Dimensions: 5.2x9.4x1 inches
Weight: 3.09 pounds 

Dec 02 2019

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