Monitoring Internet Usage … From the IT Department

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

During July, August, and September of 2011, Commtouch assessed categories of Web sites most likely to be home to malware, below are the top ranking offenders.  The Portals category includes those sites offering free hosting which are often abused to publish malware and phishing content or will redirect to sites with this content.

What were the most-visited categories by your employees during 2011?

Are you currently monitoring and/or blocking the existing Spyware/Malicious, Phishing/Fraud, Public Proxy, and Hacking categories to help protect your network?

Source: Commtouch

In today’s wired workplace, internet security and bandwidth consumption are top concerns for IT professionals while employee productivity and legal liability ail management and HR professionals.  As a major contributor to the Web-use management effort, IT typically becomes deeply involved in planning, testing, selecting, installing, and administering Internet monitoring software.  With the different departments playing a role in deciding on the best product to fit their vast needs, most are left without a solution.  Fortunately, Wavecrest’s products have been reviewed by our customers as meeting each role’s needs most effectively, offering manager-ready, easy-to-interpret reports that can be accessed without the IT personnel in addition to providing a robust, truly scalable IT-friendly remedy.

With Wavecrest Computing, customers have the insight needed to proactively monitor / block the notorious malicious sites based on custom categories, the Wavecrest Control List, and a real-time deep packet analysis process.  Plus, our 19 comprehensive templates provide a variety of summarized and detailed Web-use activity reports on users, groups, categories, sites, acceptability ratings, and bandwidth consumption.  Conveniently import your current Web Use Policy to easily customize or classify categories, implement abuse thresholding, and monitor employee productivity while our Administrator and Operator Accounts allow for non-IT personnel to create and obtain their role-specific reports.

While serving a diverse mixture of commercial businesses, industrial firms, government agencies, military units, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations since 1996, our products continue to present the most up-to-date, proactive coverage in line with the one factor that underlies all Web-use management issues, human online activity. Wavecrest’s managers and developers understand human resource management well and we use that knowledge to develop features that prevent productivity losses, legal liability problems, network issues, and unnecessary costs.

What’s Hogging Your Company’s Bandwidth? Causes for Slow Network Speed this Holiday.

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

If you haven’t noticed, online holiday shopping lasts well beyond Cyber Monday.  According to a ComScore report, after the 2010 holiday shopping season, more than 85% of Americans online visited a retail site in December of last year.  Employees shopping online at work are likely causing critical applications, like Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing, to perform poorly if at all.  The last thing you and your company need is network latency or slowdowns due to non-work related online activity.  Many of our clients are seeing a spike in bandwidth usage from shopping websites and have quickly taken measures to filter browsing to that category.  Which sites consumed the most bandwidth for your company this month?  Determine what factors are impacting your network speed before you decide to purchase more bandwidth – an expense that could be avoided with the right tools and a bit of discipline.

With 19 different types of highly customizable employee Web-use reports, Cyfin Reporter offer insights as to which types of traffic consume the maximum volume throughout the workday.  Monitor, filter, and report over 500 million Web pages in 74 categories and set throttling thresholds for sites that are slowing your company’s Internet speed with CyBlock Proxy.  Now is the time to address your poor network performance, slow applications, and bandwidth congestion.

We’re so sure you’ll benefit from our solutions that we offer a free 30-day product trial. Both products provide quantified data to help IT personnel keep track of bandwidth utilization by users as well as by type of usage (appropriate versus not so appropriate). After you’ve downloaded our products, take advantage of the User Comparison Trend Chart to detect unexpected spikes that could indicate excessive bandwidth or Web use.  Then review your Top Sites Bandwidth Chart (example seen below) and find out which ten sites are consuming the most bandwidth or had the most hits or visits for the time period you specify.

Top Sites Bandwidth Chart

 

Top Sites Bandwidth Chart for both Cyfin and CyBlock

Online Holiday Shopping Can Cost Your Business More Than Time

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Online Shopping Risks

Cyber Monday is no more – in an uncertain economy, post-Thanksgiving online holiday shopping has increased since coined in 2005 and now lasts for one month with more than 50% of all online spending taking place during working hours1.  What does this mean for your business?  A large decrease in employee productivity, a boost in bandwidth consumption, and one of the most popular times for cybercriminals to attack your secure data.

Lost productivity can mean big bucks for your company, reducing employee output to a mere 60%2.  A survey by CareerBuilder states that more than half of the 4,000 respondents polled intend on shopping online while at work with one third of those planning for more than one hour each day, in addition to the two typical hours daily already reported by respondents (time excludes lunch hour and scheduled breaks).  If you do not have a Web-use policy or Internet Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in place, one is necessary to help report, monitor, and prevent employee Internet abuse in addition to protecting your company from legal liability.

Downloading malware is another risk as employees use the Internet for personal reasons. Spyware and malicious code are big threats to company networks as they can consume bandwidth and compromise security.  Recent studies show that company networks are being infected with spyware and malicious code most often through employees surfing the Web; with the holidays increasing that risk, these threats make it imperative for companies to enforce an AUP to protect their networks. Wavecrest Computing suggests that companies monitor and/or filter employee Web use in order to better protect themselves from security threats. In addition to the inherent risks associated with hacking your online security – loss of company reputation, destruction of company data, and the downtime employees face while systems are restored – the costs to mitigate attacks are extraordinary and rising each year.  This year, U.S. companies are expected to spend more than triple the costs spent in 20063.

To ensure these threats do not happen to your company this holiday season, run through our checklist and remember to check it twice!

  • Install all applicable system and program updates to avoid malware from infiltrating any system frailty that could have easily been patched with an update.
  • Create a Web usage policy and clearly communicate it to your employees.
  • Be cautious prior to clicking on links to different websites particularly those found on social networking sites as they’re often a hotspot for malware.
  • Avoid the use of pirated / illegal software as many contain malware.
  • Never open email attachments from unknown senders and make sure to scan attachments you do decide to download.
  • Make steps to consistently back up your computer in the case that malware wipes your hard drive clean.
  • Monitor servers and security devices 24x7x365 for security issues and require preventative actions be taken on security threats in real time – this is where we come in!

CyBlock can be set up to block Web access by categories and by hour so employees can access shopping sites on their lunch break or after hours. This approach can help sustain morale while minimizing the risks associated with online shopping.  With Cyfin, you can monitor employees’ Web use to ensure that Web-use policies are followed or that unwanted spyware or malware is not downloaded as a result.  Let us guide you to a safer, more reliable, robust security solution with exceptional support at an unbeatable price!

Sources:

1http://blog.comscore.com/2011/11/cyber_monday_work_computers.html

2 http://www.wavecrest.net/editorial/costsavings.html

3http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/technology/1107/gallery.cyber_security_costs/index.html?iid=EL

 

The World Cup Means Time Wasted at Work

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup games begin today and will run until July 11.  Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a research firm that deals with lost workplace productivity, ranks the World Cup as one of the biggest time wasters in the workplace worldwide.  And it’s not just time that World Cup viewers will suck up in the workplace.  Bandwidth consumption will also increase with the availability of video streaming of the games.

While the World Cup ranks number 4 in the US as a top time waster behind March Madness, the Super Bowl and Fantasy Football, it will still cost American companies about $121.7 million in lost productivity.  The British economy, however, is looking to lose about $7.36 billion in productivity, according to the British law firm Brabners Chaffe Street.

Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products and services help all types of organizations manage and control employee Web activity. Cyfin and CyBlock products do this by monitoring and/or filtering employees’ Web use and reporting on the activity by content categories, e.g., sports, social networking, games, and others. Of particular note, with regard to the World Cup, CyBlock products can be set up to block Web access by categories and by hour so employees can access sports sites on their lunch break or after hours. This approach can help sustain morale while minimizing lost productivity and bandwidth associated with the World Cup.

Sources:
http://blogs.reuters.com/shop-talk/2010/06/08/world-cup-is-no-march-madness-in-sapping-productivity/
http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/blog/2010/06/world_cup_promises_some_kick_to_productivity_apps_aim_to_help.html
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/060608/8worldcup.htm

Wavecrest’s RealTimePlus Filtering

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

RealTimePlus is our customer-configurable three-layer filtering process. It uses three layers of screening based on: (1) custom categories, (2) the Wavecrest categorization (control) list and (3) a real-time deep packet analysis process.

1. Custom Categories (the “First Layer”). ‘Custom categories’ supplement the standard categories. This enables you to better identify and control your users’ Web activity.   For example, you can create a custom category to:

  • Serve as a “white list” that contains all sites to which visits are allowed (while blocking all others).
  • Track and possibly block access to ‘standard’ sites that are not in the Wavecrest URL List but are of special local interest or concern.
  • Serve as a “black list” that contains all sites to be blocked (while allowing access to all others).
  • Track (but not block) visits to internal servers (intranet sites) and/or partner sites.

You can add custom categories at the Advanced Settings – Category Setup – Custom Categories screen. Then use the Advanced Settings – Category Setup – Edit URLs screen to add sites into your custom categories.

2. The Wavecrest URL List (the “Second Layer”). To accurately identify and categorize the vast majority of visits, Wavecrest products use a large, mature categorization control list.  This ‘control’ list consists of 69 ‘standard’ content-identification categories that is updated daily with URLs from around the world.  We recommend that you download the list daily to get the best filtering and monitoring coverage.   You can setup an automatic daily download of the list at the Administration – URL List – Schedule screen.

Another great customization feature with the control list is that you can add and move URLs in the standard categories.  For example, if you use Twitter as a Marketing tool but want to continue to block all other social networking sites, you can simply add www.twitter.com to the Marketing category.  You can make this change at the Advanced Settings – Category Setup – Edit URLs screen.

Finally, set your block/allow policies for your custom categories and standard categories at the Advanced Settings – Filtering Settings – Block Web Categories screen.

3. Deep Packet Analysis (the “Third Layer”). Using real-time ‘deep packet analysis,’ CyBlock can determine if the content of a URL is Flash, video streaming, audio streaming, images, Active X and more.  Any or all of these could be considered “inappropriate” and can be blocked.  You can also add your own extensions to be blocked.  You can block these types of content or add your own at the Advanced Settings – Filter Settings – Block Web Content screen.

Other Features

1. Hourly Blocking. You can block or allow categories at specific hours during the day.  For example, you may want to allow access to some categories during the lunch hour. You can set these hourly policies by clicking on the clock icon at the Block Web Categories screen.

2. Customizable Blocking Message. CyBlock comes with a standard blocking message, but you can configure the product to point to your own Web policy or personalized blocking message.  You can set this custom message at the Advanced Settings – Filter Settings – Web Blocking Message screen.

Online Holiday Shopping: Here We Go Again

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

It’s that time of year again! The big Christmas shopping spree. As in previous years, the online version ‘officially’ starts on Cyber Monday – the day after the big T-Day weekend. And now this year we’ve got Green Monday (December 7) and Brown Monday (December 14). These are days on which, like Cyber Monday, online retailers put on a full court press to draw in ‘surfer-shoppers.’

And the whole circus runs through New Year’s Day.

The volume can be huge and problematical for employers. A survey conducted for ISACA, an association of 86,000 information technology professionals, states in part:

“Employees plan to spend nearly two full working days (14.4 hours) on average shopping online from a work computer this holiday season. One in 10 plans to spend more than 30 hours shopping online at work. Convenience (34%) and boredom (23%) are the biggest motivators.”

“… the second annual “Shopping on the Job: Online Holiday Shopping and Workplace Internet Safety” survey found that half of those surveyed plan to holiday shop online using a work computer.

“Dangers of shopping online include viruses, spam and phishing attacks that invade the workplace, resulting in financial losses due to reduced productivity and destruction or compromise of corporate data.”

In addition to generating network security and performance issues, online holiday shopping is a huge productivity waster for businesses. When workers are shopping, they’re not ‘minding the store.’ Accordingly, this is a good time for all types of organizations to take stock of their Web-use management practices and seek help if needed.

Wavecrest Computing is ready to provide that help.

Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products and services help all types of organizations manage and control inappropriate and risky personal surfing of all kinds, including shopping. Cyfin and CyBlock products do this by monitoring and/or filtering employees’ Web use and reporting on the activity by content categories, e.g., shopping, sports, games, and others. Of particular note, with regard to holiday shopping, CyBlock products can be set up to block Web access by categories and by hour so employees can access shopping sites on their lunch break or after hours. This approach can help sustain morale while minimizing the risks associated with online shopping.

For 13 years, Wavecrest Computing has been providing Internet filtering and monitoring solutions to business, government, and educational organizations worldwide.  Wavecrest’s customer base includes well-known names such as the HP, Procter and Gamble, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Bridgestone, Mazda and many others.