Web Controls, Bandwidth and Browser Restrictions
Beyond basic Web filtering and threat protection, Zscaler offers very flexible and comprehensive controls, including Web 2.0 Control, which comes in very handy in situations where completely blocking access to an online service may not desired -- perhaps because there are legitimate business reasons for using it -- but you still want to restrict how it can be used.
Case in point: we used Zscaler's detailed controls to let users access Webmail sites such as Gmail, but block their ability to send email attachments. We also allowed the use of application- or Web-based IM programs (e.g. AIM, Meebo) for chat purposes but not for file transfers.
One reason you might want to prevent users from uploading videos is the large amount of bandwidth the process tends to consume. Zscaler's top-level Premium service tier provides bandwidth controls that let you define a minimum or maximum amount of bandwidth available to certain application/data types. This prevents media streaming or large file transfers from interfering with, for example, a hosted CRM app or the weekly payroll transmission. One thing you can't do, however, is set up bandwidth rules on a per-user or per-group basis.
Zscaler offers granular Web controls that let you do things such as users access Webmail but not send attachments, or access social networking sites but not post to them.
(Click for larger image).
If you want to dictate which Web browsers and specific versions of each your employees may use, Zscaler will let you do that too. We were easily able to block employees from getting to the Internet with unauthorized browsers (Safari), outdated browsers (IE 6), and beta versions (IE 9, Firefox 4).
Also part of Zscaler's premium tier is a DLP (Data Loss Prevention) feature with pre-defined policies for HIPAA, GLBA, and PCI compliance; it successfully detected and blocked our attempt to email a list of social security and credit card numbers.
Network Security Reports
Zscaler's reporting capabilities are as extensive as its set of features. The aforementioned Analyze tab lets you see network transactions based on user, group, location, type of request, etc. in very nearly real time. Transactions show up here a few seconds after they occur, which makes it easy to respond to user queries without having to wait for periodic logs to be generated.
You can also choose from a menu of dozens of graphical reports that detail Web activity from almost any conceivable vantage point. A particularly useful feature is the capability to designate desired reports as favorites for easy access via a pull-down menu. You can also save any of the available reports as PDF.
These days more small businesses are considering moving various kinds of business applications from in-house servers and PCs to the cloud. Zscaler makes a credible case for doing the same for Web security.
Pros: no hardware or software deployment necessary; offers granular Web controls in addition to outright filtering; provides near real-time network data and excellent reporting capabilities; supports Windows, Mac and Linux
Cons: bandwidth control not available on a user or group level, SMTP and spam protection must be purchased separately
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.
|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!|