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

 

Upgrade Today! New Releases for CyBlock and Cyfin

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

We’re thrilled to bring you more new features in our latest releases of CyBlock and Cyfin. In CyBlock Version 6.3.3 and Cyfin Version 8.3.3, we are happy to deliver you with the following:

  • Classification Policies. New classification policies can be created and saved for use in manual and scheduled reports. The policies can be created and selected from a new option on the Reports – Manual and Reports – Schedule screens. Two named classification policies are provided with this release: Default and No Classification. The default classifications policy is set at the Category Setup – Classify Categories screen, and no classification means that no classifications will appear in the report.
  • Dashboard Drill-down. Drill-down reporting has been added to the Dashboard Top Users and Top Categories charts. When clicking on a user from the Top Users chart, a User Audit Detail report will automatically run, and when clicking on a category from the Top Categories chart, a Category Audit report will automatically run.
  • Download Restore Points. The ability to download and save a restore point for product settings has been added. The restore points can be downloaded from the Administration – Restore – Download screen.
  • Email Notification When License Exceeded (CyBlock Only). If the number of filtered users exceeds what the product license allows, an email notification will be sent to the product’s administrator every three days.
  • Using Active Directory for Access Accounts. A “Lookup” link has been added to the Advanced Settings – Access Accounts screen. When using Active Directory authentication for access accounts, clicking this link will cause the full name and email address for the access account to be automatically populated from Active Directory.

To see the full release notes for your product, visit the Support Forum. You can download the latest release by going to the Administration – Product Update screen in your CyBlock or Cyfin product.

Wavecrest Computing: Fourteen Years of Internet Monitoring and Filtering

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Wavecrest Computing, a leading developer of Internet usage management products, has now been in business for fourteen years. Since 1996, from their base in Melbourne, Florida, Wavecrest Computing has developed, marketed and supported a spectrum of innovative Internet monitoring and reporting solutions. Their products help all types of organizations manage employees’ online activities and ensure compliance with acceptable use policies. Starting fourteen years ago with a single customer, their client base has grown to more than 3,000 organizations, many of them Fortune 500 companies and high profile government agencies.

What makes Wavecrest stand out from competitors is their on-going commitment to customer service. When customers call, they talk to a real person from Wavecrest’s Melbourne, Florida location, and they get personalized attention. Their support personnel know that customer satisfaction is key to the company’s (and their own) success. For years these dedicated men and women have listened to Wavecrest customers and made sure that Wavecrest consistently delivers the products and services needed to meet the many dynamic challenges associated with use of the Internet in the workplace.

Those challenges have certainly evolved over the years. Examples include the very real and seriously increasing risks of social networking, video streaming and other Web 2.0 technologies that produce productivity losses, bandwidth drains, legal liability, and network security threats in the workplace.

As the Internet grows and the challenges escalate, Wavecrest has kept pace every step of the way.

Taking a look at Wavecrest’s product history, they started with a basic software application called ProxyReporter. It read and analyzed employers’ outbound Web logs. From that data, it then produced reports that helped management and IT monitor employees’ use of Web access.

As the Internet became more sophisticated, Wavecrest went on to develop a series of increasingly robust Web-use monitoring and filtering products designed to suit a variety of customers and network infrastructures. Their monitoring products now include Cyfin Reporter–a highly sophisticated and scalable logfile analyzer/reporter–and Cyfin Proxy, a standalone Web proxy/monitor/reporter. Their combination filtering/reporting products include CyBlock for ISA/TMG–a combination filter/reporter system for use with Microsoft ISA and TMG products–and CyBlock Proxy, a standalone proxy/filter/reporting solution.

Wavecrest’s latest innovation is CyBlock Appliance, a hardware based Internet-usage management device. Designed to monitor and help control use of all Internet protocols, CyBlock Appliance is a standalone proxy, monitor, filter and reporter.

Through the years, Wavecrest products have been well received and proven to be highly reliable and cost-effective. They are all backed with a 90-day money-back guarantee. Wavecrest frequently incorporates new features to keep up with the ever-changing Internet and marketplace demands. Dennis McCabe, VP of Business Development, states, “Our main goals at Wavecrest are to provide outstanding customer service and a reliable and robust product that stands above the competition.”

About Wavecrest
Founded in 1996, Wavecrest Computing is a recognized B2B leader in policy-based Web-use management solutions. The company’s products are relied on by IT personnel, HR professionals and business managers around the world to proactively address issues of Internet abuse, legal liability, security threats, workforce productivity and misuse of bandwidth. Wavecrest has been profitable since 1997, and sales have increased steadily since then. Among their more than 3,000 clients are Procter & Gamble, British Telecom, US Department of State, Edward Jones, IBM, IKEA, MillerCoors, Siemens, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies.

Managing Categorization in CyBlock and Cyfin

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

CyBlock and Cyfin offers the advanced functionality for you to manage and customize the categorization of sites. By using these categorization features, you can maximize the overall usefulness of your CyBlock or Cyfin product. Follow these 5 tips to get the most out of categorization.

1. Keep your categorization list current via daily updates.
Wavecrest site analysts work continuously to update and expand the categorization list. In fact, the Wavecrest URL list is 100% human reviewed. These updates are available for download daily. It’s a simple process that can be done manually or on an automatic/scheduled basis. You can download the URL list or schedule the download to occur daily on the Administration – URL List screen.

2. Establish custom categories.
Augment Wavecrest’s standard 74 categories with custom categories. You can add up to 25 custom categories. You can activate and use as many or as few of these as you want, and you can easily give them specific names of your own choosing. Names are limited to 50 characters. These settings are found on the Advanced Settings — Category Setup — Name Custom screen. Once a custom category has been established, you can augment the Wavecrest URL List with URLs of your own choosing and place them in the custom category for subsequent monitoring or filtering. Custom categories also provide white list (allow-only) capability for CyBlock users.

3. Add URLs.
You can add URLs to both the Wavecrest standard and custom categories. The applicable settings are found on the Advanced Settings — Category Setup — Edit URLs screen. You can also delete URLs here.

4. Change a URL’s category.
If you wish, you can change the category to which Wavecrest has assigned a particular URL. You can do this by simply adding the URL to the category of your choice. Your categorization will take permanent precedence over the Wavecrest URL list.

5. Participate in our OtherWise program.
To opt in our OtherWise program, you simply need to periodically run a Top Non-categorized Sites report and email a copy to sites@wavecrest.net. Our list technicians will research, identify and categorize the most popular unidentified sites, many of which will be of local or special interest to your organization. Then, after you download the next daily control list update, subsequent visits to those sites by your users will no longer be listed as “Other.” They’ll be properly identified and categorized. NOTE: We hold all customer information sent to us in strict confidence.

Cut Costs with Wavecrest’s Internet Filtering, Monitoring and Reporting Products

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

It has always been important to know that your company’s resources are being used properly and to the best of their capability.  Businesses want to ensure that their employees are being productive and not wasting the organization’s time and resources.

Internet access is one of those resources that can easily be abused, costing an organization time and money. Internet filtering and/or monitoring with one of Wavecrest’s Cyfin or CyBlock products can help preclude or drive down costs in at least four areas: productivity, bandwidth, legal liability and security.

1. Productivity

  • The average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time (America Online and Salary.com survey, 2006).
  • The average employee costs a company $29.71 per hour (including salary, overhead costs, benefits, payroll taxes, etc.) —- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics — March 2010.
  • Lost productivity costs the company $59.42 per day per employee (2 hrs x $29.71).
  • Average employee works 240 days per year.
  • Yearly loss per employee is $14,260.80  (240 x $59.42)
  • Loss per 1000 employees is $14,260,800 per year.
  • Average cost for a Wavecrest Internet filtering or monitoring product with a 1000-employee license is $3,500 per year ($3.50 per user).

Conclusion:  Cost of a Wavecrest license is less than three tenths of one percent of the cost of lost productivity. A well-communicated Web-use policy, coupled with an effective monitoring product, greatly increases productivity in the workplace.

2.  Bandwidth

Reliable studies indicate that as much as 70% of a company’s bandwidth is being consumed by non-productive pursuits. Activities such as online video, audio streaming, downloading movies or MP3’s are especially damaging.  It is quite clear that eliminating or significantly reducing bandwidth abuse can improve network performance and preclude or decelerate the need for organizations to support increased bandwidth use.

3.  Legal Liability

Web-related legal costs typically result from employees visiting pornography sites.  Many studies show this to be a serious problem. In fact, according to research by Nielsen Online in October 2008, one quarter of employees who use the Internet visit porn sites during the workday.  Hits to porn sites are higher during office hours than at any other time of day, according to M.J. McMahon, publisher of AVN Online magazine, which tracks the adult video industry.

This type of activity puts the employer at serious risk of being sued by other workers who are offended or upset by being exposed to pornographic images. Such suits usually take the form of sexual harassment or hostile workplace litigation and can be very costly in terms of damage to reputation as well as legal costs.

4.  Security

Studies show that approximately twenty percent of personal use of the Internet by employees involves activities that pose potential threats to employer network security. Examples include file sharing, the use of malicious code, spyware and more. Like bandwidth abuse, the associated costs are difficult to quantify, but such activities can easily result in network disruptions or slowdowns and/or loss or compromise of proprietary data; these all come with a cost.

Stop A Pornography Surfing Problem Before It Starts: Why Monitoring Is Important

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

USA Today reported today that “several top Security and Exchange Commission staffers surfed porn sites as economy teetered.”  While many of us like to think that “everyone” knows it’s inappropriate to surf porn at work using the office computer, time and time again stories like these still pop up.  While whether or not to allow social networking in the office and how to control the use of these sites seems to be the big surfing topic today, apparently we still cannot forget about pornography.  Pornography poses several risks to businesses and government agencies. These include productivity losses, security issues and legal liability.  No matter how strict or lenient your acceptable use policy is, one thing is clear.  Communicating your Web-use policy and regularly monitoring employees’ Web use is important.  You want to stop the problem before it starts or turns into an employee spending “up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography.”

Source: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/04/ig-report-several-top-sec-staffers-surfed-porn-sites-as-economy-teetered/1

New Categories Coming April 3!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

New categories and category changes will automatically be updated in your product on April 3, 2010 for CyBlock Versions 6.0.0 and later or Cyfin Versions 8.0.0 and later.  If you do not have these versions of the product, you will need to upgrade to the most current version in order to get the new categories and category changes.

For CyBlock, these categories will be allowed by default. Therefore, you will need to go to your Advanced Settings – Filter Settings – Block Web Categories screen and alter your policies.  For reporting and monitoring purposes, you may also want to change the new category’s classification statuses at the Advanced Settings – Category Setup – Classification screen to match your organization’s Acceptable Use Policy.

See the Category Update Data Sheet for a full list of categories and their descriptions.

New Categories Coming Soon!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

New categories are coming soon to all Wavecrest Products.  Some of the new categories include:

  • TV/Video Streaming
  • Shareware/Freeware
  • Online Meetings
  • P2P/File Sharing
  • Weapons
  • Online Storage

Keep an eye out on your product’s news, the Web site, Blog and Twitter for updates with more details on the new categories and when you can expect to see them in your CyBlock or Cyfin product.