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

 

New Minor Releases: CyBlock 5.9.0 and Cyfin 7.9.0

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

New versions of Wavecrest Computing’s CyBlock and Cyfin monitoring and filtering software were recently released.  They include the following new features and enhancements.

  • Enhancement – Array configuration. This release contains a useful new feature which will allow you to combine all of your proxy data into an Enterprise report.  It also lets you apply settings and policies from one ‘primary’ installation to multiple ‘secondary’ installations.  For Cyfin Reporter, this feature works a little differently.  Instead, it allows you to use multiple servers’ CPU’s to process logfile data, while leaving one ‘primary’ Cyfin Reporter machine free to run reports.
  • New Report – Site Audit Detail. This report lists all users that visited a particular Web site and shows the total visits.
  • Enhancement – Proxy Chain ability. CyBlock Proxy and Cyfin Proxy now have the ability to use a ‘downstream’ proxy in a ‘chain’ configuration.
  • Enhancement – Job Queue. New keyboard shortcuts allow you to pause and restart the job queue.  Also, all jobs are now numbered in the queue.
  • Enhancement – Logging optional. (CyBlock Proxy only) Logging of proxy data can be disabled without affecting the filtering policies in place.
  • Enhancement – New logfile formats supported. (Cyfin Reporter only) Cyfin Reporter extends support for Sidewinder Firewall G2, IronPort Appliance, Symantec Web Security and MIMEsweeper logfiles.

For full release notes on the products, please visit the forum at http://forum.wavecrest.net/index.php. Current customers can download the latest release from their product by going to the Administration – Product Update screen.

Controlling Spyware with Cyfin and CyBlock

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Introduction
Spyware – software that tracks Web surfers’ activity without their knowledge and sends the information back to a third party – is a growing concern for IT administrators. Spyware can compromise security, consume bandwidth and slow networks to a crawl. The good news is you can help protect your network from spyware with Cyfin and CyBlock software.

Spyware Problems
Spyware can get into your computer(s) very easily, and it can be extremely hard to detect. Most employees never realize their computers are infected, and those that do have no idea how it happened.

Because spyware enters a user’s system with “legitimate” traffic through an open Internet port, firewalls are not an adequate defense. Spyware remains undetected by firewalls designed to block suspicious inbound traffic rather than monitor the heavy outbound activity spyware generates. (Inbound spyware doesn’t look suspicious.)

Wavecrest Solutions
Your Cyfin web monitoring software or CyBlock web filtering software can help identify spyware and reduce your risk of downloading it in the future.

1) Use reporting tools to spot spyware activity with Cyfin or CyBlock.

A. Look for unusual patterns of Web activity. Run a Site Analysis report at least once a week and be alert to changes in the volume and pattern of outbound Web activity. For example, if a single user is suddenly logging thousands of visits a day, chances are it’s a spyware issue. That’s because “human” activity is usually more random than spyware activity. Here’s another clue. If you notice that every morning at 3 a.m. a user appears to be accessing the same Web site repeatedly, most likely the activity is being automatically triggered by a spyware program.

B. Watch the IP Address category. High activity in this reporting category should raise a red flag for administrators. Most spyware programs send information back to an IP address, while actual user activity is almost always driven by a domain name. Wavecrest software will categorize all IP Address activity automatically. High traffic volume here warrants further investigation.

C. Identify the source of the problem. Dig deeper by running a Category Audit Detail report to uncover both the spyware site and the affected user. If your Category Audit Detail report shows an unusual number of hits to a specific Web site, that site is most likely the source.

2) Use CyBlock’s filtering tools to control surfing.

A. Create a strict “allow” list. One way to prevent spyware is to strictly control employee Internet access. With CyBlock, you can limit online access to only the Web sites you know to be trustworthy and automatically block access to any Web site not on your “allow” list.

B. Block access to social networks high-risk sites. Another less restrictive way to minimize exposure to spyware is to block user access to high-risk site categories. These include spyware/malicious, hacking, phishing/fraud, music downloads, download sites, social networks, games, chat and pornography.

3) Update your Web-use management tools.

A. Update your Acceptable Use Policy. Employees need to understand the risks of Web surfing. Minimize risks of Internet abuse by implementing a policy to curtail at-work surfing and communicate it clearly to employees.

B. Update your Wavecrest list. The Wavecrest control list is updated daily, adding Web sites known to host spyware. We recommend downloading your Wavecrest control list daily to minimize the number of visits categorized as “Other” and ensure the best coverage possible. You can set Cyfin and CyBlock to do this automatically on the Administration – URL List – Schedule screen.

(Note: If you spot a Web site you suspect may be spyware, email it to us at sites@wavecrest.net. Our OtherWise research team will review the site and categorize it appropriately.)

C. Update your operating system. Download updates to your operating system on a regular basis. Spyware multiplies on your network by exploiting weaknesses in OS software. Frequent updates will help plug these holes and minimize the damage if you become infected.

4) Work with your employees.

Counsel employees about the dangers of spyware. Brief your employees on the dangers and detrimental effects of malicious software, and tell them about the actions you’re taking as well as the actions they should take and the sites they should avoid.