Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Effective Network Internet Control for Effective Security

The Internet has been a blessing to business, yet without effective network Internet control it can also be a curse. We can use the Internet to reach new clients, research new markets and communicate effectively over vast distances; but it also puts us at risk of infection from malware and viruses. These can compromise our data or even result in system downtime. Browsing, social media and file downloading are also a source of employee distraction and lost productivity.

So how can ensure that the Internet offers you far more blessings, while also being far less of a curse to your organization? By having network Internet control software you can keep your system safe, enforce reasonable use policies on browsing and maintain productivity at high levels. How? Read on to find out.

Proactive protection for your network

Employees love fast corporate Internet connections. They make browsing simple and are also great for downloading large files that would take far longer on their home networks. However, this can leave your organization to many risks, such as legal issues, licensing issues and of course, the risk of infection by malware and viruses.

Network Internet control software combats this by providing you with the ability to determine what file types can be downloaded. In addition, some software also integrates multiple antivirus engines that scan any allowed downloads to ensure your network stays safe.

Granular control of browsing

While most organizations do not mind employees engaging in a little Internet browsing, some users can abuse the privilege. Productivity is lost and time is wasted in social media sites and personal browsing. Worse, sites that offer streaming media, such as YouTube, can hog bandwidth and cause slowdowns for everyone else on the network.

This can be prevented by setting bandwidth thresholds for each user, and blocking heavy bandwidth sites. This can be done with granular controls, allowing you to give access to employees that may need access for their daily duties, while restricting access for those that don’t. In addition, effective network Internet control software also gives you the ability to employ soft-blocking, giving users a warning screen that the site they are about to access is in breach of company policy. In this way, users can police themselves.

Blocking social engineering

Phishing attacks and social engineering have become common attack vectors for hackers and others with malicious intent. These methods have the advantage of leaving the user unaware that their machine has become infected, allowing the hacker to have access to your system without raising an alarm.

Malicious websites that masquerade as legitimate ones; links that lead to sites which attempt to trick users into downloading software that appears harmless but which is actually malicious; and apparently genuine requests for information that allow a hacker to steal your confidential information such as usernames and passwords. These are all weapons in a hacker’s arsenal.

Network Internet control software can prevent these occurrences by accessing a database of known phishing websites and blocking access accordingly. Malware attacks are often the most powerful within the first eight hours of release, so having a constantly updated blacklist of infected websites is important for ensuring your protection. However, websites should be checked often and their blacklisting revised to prevent legitimate websites being permanently blocked as a result of temporary malware infection.

Access can also be restricted to specific groups of websites with some Internet monitoring software, allowing customizable whitelist and blacklist options. Reputation databases that categorize sites and which are auto-updated from your cache can also provide excellent protection from untrustworthy sites.

Having effective network control software offers multiple advantages to organizations. Lost productivity, downtime due to malware and virus infections, as well as theft of confidential data can all be costly in terms of resources. Using network control software for monitoring and security can help you to avoid costly mistakes, and thus offers excellent ROI on a minimal investment. So if you have dismissed this technology in the past, now may be the time to reconsider, before a saving on software becomes an expensive business mistake.

This guest post was provided by Christina Goggi on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on the importance of implementing network Internet control within your organization. All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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