In our previous article we analysed the risks and implications involved for businesses when there are no security or restriction policies and systems in place to stop users distributing illegal content (torrents). We also spoke about unauthorized access to company systems, sharing sensitive company information and more. This article talks about how specialized systems such as GFI’s WebMonitor are capable of helping businesses stop torrent applications accessing the internet, control the websites users access, block remote control software (Teamviewer, Remote Desktop, Ammy Admin etc) and put a stop to users wasting bandwidth, time and company money while at work.
GFI’s WebMonitor is more than just an application. It can help IT departments design and enforce internet security policies by blocking or allowing specific applications and services accessing the internet.
GFI WebMonitor is also capable of providing detailed reports of users’ web activity – a useful feature that ensure users are not accessing online resources they shouldn’t, and provide the business with the ability to check users’ activities in case of an attack, malware or security incident.
GFI WebMonitor is not a new product - it carries over a decade of development and has served millions of users since its introduction into the IT market. With awards from popular IT security magazines, Security Experts, IT websites and more, it’s the preferred solution when it comes to a complete web filtering and security monitoring solution.
Blocking Unwanted Applications: Application Control – Not Port Control
Senior IT Managers, engineers and administrators surely remember the days where controlling TCP/UDP ports at the Firewall level was enough to block or provide applications access to the internet. For some years now, this is no longer a valid way of application control, as most ‘unwanted’ applications can smartly use common ports such as HTTP (80) or HTTPS (443) to circumvent security policies, passing inspection and freely accessing the internet.
In order to effectively block unwanted applications, businesses must realize that it is necessary to have a security Gateway device that can correctly identify the applications requesting access to the internet, regardless the port they are trying to use – aka Application Control.
Application Control is a sophisticated technique that requires upper layer (OSI Model) inspection of data packets as they flow through the gateway or proxy, e.g. GFI WebMonitor. The gateway/proxy executes deep packet level inspection to identify the application requesting access to the internet.
In order to correctly identify the application the gateway must be aware of it, which means it has to be listed in its local database.
The Practical Benefits of Internet Application Control & Web Monitoring Solution
Let’s take a more practical look at the benefits an organization has when implementing an Application Control & Web Monitoring solution:
Block file sharing applications such as Torrents
Stop users distributing illegal content (games, applications, movies, music, etc)
Block remote access applications such as TeamViewer, Remote Desktop, VNC, Ammy Admin and more.
Stop unauthorized access to the organization’s systems via remote access applications
Block access to online storage services such as DropBox, Google Drive, Hubic and others
Avoid users sharing sensitive information such as company documents via online storage services
Save valuable bandwidth for the organization, its users, remote branches and VPN users
Protect the network from malware, viruses and other harmful software downloadable via the internet
Properly enforce different security policies to different users and groups
Protect against possible security breaches and minimize responsibility in case of an infringement incident
And much more
The above list contains a few of the major benefits that solutions such as GFI’s WebMonitor can offer to organizations.
Why Web Monitoring & Content Filtering is Considered Mandatory
Web Monitoring is a very sensitive topic for many organizations and its users, mainly because users do not want others to know what they are doing on their computer. The majority of users perceive web monitoring as spying on them to see what sites they are accessing and if they are wasting time on websites and internet resources unrelated to work, however, users do not understand the problems and security risks that are mostly likely to arise if no monitoring or content filtering mechanism is in place.
In fact the damage caused by users irresponsibly visiting high-risk sites and surfing the internet without any limits is way bigger than most companies might think and there are some really great examples that help prove this point. The USA FBI site has a page with examples of internet scams and risks from social media network sites.
If we assume your organization is one of the luckiest ones that hasn’t been hit (yet) from irresponsible user internet activities, then we are here to assure you that it’s simply a matter of time.
Apart from the imminent security risk, users who have uncontrollable access are also wasting bandwidth – that’s bandwidth the organization is paying for - and are likely to slow down the internet for the rest who are legitimately trying to get work done. In cases where VPNs are running over the same lines then VPN users, remote branches and mobile users are most likely to experience slow connection speeds when accessing the organization’s resources over the internet.
This problem becomes even more evident when asymmetrical WAN lines are in use, such as ADSL lines. With asymmetrical WAN lines, a single user who is uncontrollably uploading photos, movies (via torrent) or other content can affect all other users downloading since bottlenecks can easily occur when one of the two streams (downstream or upstream) is in heavy usage. This is a main characteristic of asymmetrical WAN lines.
Finally, if there is an organization security policy in place it’s most likely to contain fair internet usage guidelines for users and specify what they can and cannot do using the organization’s internet resources. The only way to enforce such a policy is through a sophisticated web monitoring & policy enforcement mechanism such as GFI WebMonitor.
In this article we analysed how specialized web monitoring and control application software, such as GFI’s WebMonitor, are able to control which user applications are able to access the internet, control websites users within an organization can access, block internet content while saving valuable bandwidth. With such solutions, organizations are able to enforce their internet security policies while at the same time protecting themselves from unauthorized access to their systems (remote desktop software), stop illegal activities such as torrent file sharing and more.