Balancing Capability With Culpability

By Patricia Fusco | Posted April 22, 2003
In the right hands, Internet access and all its communicative capabilities can greatly enhance employee productivity. In the wrong hands, Internet access and all its trappings can greatly hinder employee productivity. What does it take to balance capability with culpability? It takes a little Web sense — or in this case, Websense — an employee Internet management solution.

Websense Enterprise v5 has helped thousands of larger businesses manage how employees use computer resources such as Internet access, desktop applications and network bandwidth. Bringing the benefits of its enterprise-class employee Internet management (EIM) solutions to smaller companies, Websense this week announced the launch of Websense Enterprise for Small and Medium Businesses.

Curt Staker, Websense president, said SMBs have the same need to manage the emerging Internet-based threats as larger companies.

"Companies of any size now have the ability to manage the growing threat that hacking tools, instant messaging, off-site Internet storage sites and others are now causing," Staker said.

Targeted at organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees, Websense Enterprise for SMBs operates on a single server without a firewall, cache, or proxy device. This allows SMBs to manage computing environments at the server, network, and desktop levels.

Websense Enterprise for SMBs is an ideal product for a small- or medium-sized business because it does not require any technical resources to integrate with firewalls, or other infrastructure equipment. The programs enhanced Web filtering features include:

  • Dynamic Protocol Management: Allows IT administrators to manage employee access to network protocols — updated daily through automatic database downloads — such as instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing, streaming media and those that tunnel over port 80. For example, the Instant Messaging (IM) Management function restricts specific users or groups of users and standardizes IM within a business by blocking employee access to all network-based IM protocols except the one designated by management. In a similar way, the Peer-to-Peer Management function enables businesses to block network-level protocols to protect against the security and limit legal liabilities that music and file swapping services sometimes carry.

  • Management Options: There are nine ways small businesses can enforce a customized Internet access policy by user or group. Options include permit, deny, time of day, yes lists, time-based quotas, continue, defer, password override and bandwidth. Using the time-based quotas feature, for example, a business can allocate 30 minutes of personal surfing time daily for each employee to use as necessary.

  • WebCatcher: Ensures that new or not yet classified Web sites visited by employees are categorized and added to the next download of the Master Database. Essentially, WebCatcher enables the program to customize itself to fit the surfing patterns of Websense customers — providing an extra layer of security protection.

In addition to its Web filtering capabilities, Websense provides in-depth trend and risk reporting, which allows business to monitor Internet traffic trends and highlight specific security risks related to employee Web surfing. Reporting tools include:

  • Websense Reporter: Provides more than 80 high-level reports of Internet traffic trends in order to analyze the effectiveness of an Internet use policy, including protocol and file-type use reports.

  • Real-Time Analyzer: Gives IT managers an immediate graphical snapshot of network traffic, including protocols, bandwidth and Web sites visited.

  • Websense Explorer: An upcoming Web-based, interactive reporting tool that enables non-IT-managers to click through employee Internet use to run instant statistical analysis to identify employees with the widest variance of Web usage within a company.

A one-year subscription to Websense Enterprise costs approximately $20 per user. There are no initial setup fees involved. Websense Technical Support is free and available by telephone during regular business hours. Additionally, Websense Enterprise v5 for SMB will be available for a 30-day free evaluation download at the beginning of May.

There are two add-on modules available to the base program — a Bandwidth Optimizer and a Client Application Manager. The premium group services cost about $5 and $10 per user per year, respectively.

The Bandwidth Optimizer improves overall network performance by reducing the use of non-work-related, high-bandwidth media-based programs in real-time. The Client Application Manager controls the launch of specific applications based of management specifications. It monitors high-risk applications, such as hacking tools, as well as known security threats, such as IM and spyware.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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