ZScaler Web Security Cloud for Small Business - Page 2

By Joseph Moran
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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.

Similarly, we set up policies to permit access to social networking sites including Facebook and LinkedIn, but disallowed posting. And we could also blocked uploading clips to video-sharing sites YouTube while still allowing users to view videos.

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 Web Security Cloud for Small Business; small business security
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.

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This article was originally published on December 29, 2010
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