Homelab Security

Sophos UTM Endpoint protection

I have been using the Sophos UTM Appliance at home for about 3 years.  It has been my internet gateway all this time and also has been useful for the lab I run at home.

It’s pretty much the full featured enterprise edition but its limited to 50 IP’s on the lan side.  The feature set is huge and needs its own blog post.

I am just going to describe the basic endpoint side here. It’s been on my todo list to blog about this but I saw a fellow vExpert’s elderly father in law fall prey to a scam that Sophos would have probably caught…

If your interested in the product you can obtain it  here.

To enable features in the UTM you typically turn them on globally then they can be configured.

Once this has been done you can deploy the endpoint package (encompassing the AV and control agent)

This can either be done with a direct download or with a unique URL see screenshot.   For any homelabers  a push with group policy is required.

After that its a next next installer

Im not sure what the third party software it removes is but its a nice feature.

And your done nice and simple.

Once the agent is deployed it updates itself and runs a full scan. This can be monitored from the client end but also centrally in the UTM console. 

The example above is one of my fileservers.

One of the really cool things is the tamper protection seen above which means if you or your try and uninstall the agent from the client you will get the below message. You need a password to uninstall!!

I am just running with the basic protection for me which includes all of the following


As you can see web protection and blocking of malicious sites is enabled.  This is fully customisable and able to apply the same filtering as the firewall implements. It has a large numbers of categories  and a policy checker to see how a site will be handled.    The best part of the UTM is these are applied when the device is not behind the firewall.   Think Kids or Old people etc.

I have this implemented for a few friends and family but with slightly different policies.



Money Saving ( UK Version)

I recently got back from an amazing conference in New Orleans. This was the VeeamON conference and I was invited as part of the Veeam Vanguard programme that I am part of.

A lot of the UK Vanguards all travelled out together and after numerous discussions, it became clear that a lot of them were paying more for UK and international banking. They were also not capitalising on the deals available for getting rewards where they did need to spend.

I will detail below what I currently do; who I bank with etc.  The deals I am on may not be available or right for you.   YMMV

I have split this across three posts as it’s very text heavy:

1. UK banking and rewards

2. Maximising credit card deals

3. Minimising costs when travelling


UK banking and rewards 

I currently have a number of UK current accounts

Barclays Bank (Main Account) This is my main account where my salary gets paid into.  Financially it is not an amazing account it pays 0 credit interest and is not very cheap if you go into the overdraft.  The overdraft is large (carry over from my student days).  Most of my direct debits are paid from this account and I try to have zero balance in this account all of the time.  There are three reasons why I keep this account around.  1. The iPhone app is amazing – it pretty much does everything I could want from a banking point of view.  Managing balances, standing orders, and direct debits is easy.  But the app also covers all the more complex features.  I have organised a loan and mortgage straight from the app (I did need to visit the bank for a quick meeting with them for the mortgage). The loan took about 5 mins, with 0 personal interaction.

2. Barclays is a fast bank.   It’s hard to quantify this, but I mean transactions show up much quicker than with other banks. This helps me manage money more easily.  I also have an SMS alert set up so if I am ever overdrawn I can move money from another account easily.

3. The final reason is I have Barclays Blue rewards.  For this, I pay £3 a month and they pay me £16, i.e. net £13.  This is broken down as £7 for standard banking, £3 for home insurance, £5 for Barclays mortgage , and £1 for the Barclays loan.

This gives me a net £156 per year, and is not classed as taxable income.

Nationwide FlexDirect 

Although the Flexdirect account is a current account, I use it primarily as a savings account. It currently pays a massive 5% on up to £2500, so I always have this balance.  This will pay me £125 for the year (gross).

By having this account I am also entitled to a Flex Regular Saving account. This also pays 5%, however you are limited to paying in £500 a month.   Over 12 months, this would give me £162.50 in interest (gross).

Nationwide FlexPlus

This is a new account for me. It costs £10 a month but the benefits are more than worth it.  I took it out mainly for the Worldwide travel insurance but it also includes mobile insurance and European breakdown cover, and a number of other perks.  Before I opened the account, I didn’t have mobile insurance and I have expensive phones so this increase in cover is useful. It will allow me to cancel my AA breakdown easily paying for the £10 a month account fee.  It also pays 3% interest, this will likely earn me £10-20 for the year.

TSB Classic Plus

The TSB account also pays 3% interest and I tend to split my spare cash between this and the Nationwide FlexPlus.  I have two small direct debits on this account, and they pay a £5 reward for this plus an additional £5 for using your debit card 20 times in the month.  This isn’t that hard to achieve.

£120 rewards

£10-20 Interest (gross)

First Direct 1st Account

First direct give you a good bonus if you switch to them £150 (which I did), they also give you a £500 overdraft on good terms (£250 free).  So I always have this account at -£250  and have that money in one of the other accounts listed above.   They also have a regular savings account that I take advantage of; putting £300 a month in (max allowed).  This should give me £97.50 for the year.

Total savings for current/regular saving


Total for the year should be £841, however I am likely to need to pay tax on some of the savings interest.