One of the largest problems faced by organizations of any size is effectively controlling user internet access (from laptops, mobile devices, workstations etc), minimizing the security threats for the organization (ransomware – data loss prevention), user copyright infringement (torrent downloading/sharing movies, games, music etc) and discover where valuable WAN-Internet bandwidth is being wasted.
Organizations clearly understand that using a Firewall is no longer adequate to control the websites its users are able to access, remote control applications (Teamviewer, Radmin, Ammyy Admin, Remote desktop etc), file sharing applications - Bittorrent clients (uTorrent, BitComet, Deluge, qBittorrent etc), online cloud storage services (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, Hubic etc) and other services and applications.
The truth is that web monitoring applications such as GFI’s WebMonitor are a lot more than just a web proxy or internet monitoring solution.
Web monitoring applications are essential for any type or size of network as they offer many advantages:
- They stop users from abusing internet resources
- They block file-sharing applications and illegal content sharing
- They stop users using cloud-based file services to upload sensitive documents, for example saving company files to their personal DropBox, Google Drive etc.
- They stop remote control applications connecting to the internet (e.g Teamviewer, Remote Desktop, Ammy Admin etc)
- They ensure user productivity is kept high by allowing access to approved internet resources and sites
- They eliminate referral ad sites and block abusive content
- They support reputation blocking to automatically filter websites based on their reputation
- They help IT departments enforce security policies to users and groups
- They provide unbelievable flexibility allowing any type or size of organization to customise its internet usage policy to its requirements
The Risk In The Business Environment – Illegal Downloading
Most Businesses are completely unaware of how serious these matters are and the risks they are taking while dealing with other ‘more important’ matters.
Companies such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are in a continuous battle suing and fighting with companies, ISPs and even home users for illegally distributing movies and music.
Many users are aware of this and are now turning to their company’s internet resources, which in many cases offer faster and unlimited data transfer, to download their illegal content such as movies, games, music and other material.
An employer or business can be easily held responsible for the actions of its employees when it comes to illegal download activities, especially if no policies or systems are in place.
In the case of an investigation, if the necessary security policies and web monitoring systems are in place with the purpose of preventing copyright infringement and illegal downloading, businesses are less vulnerable to the illegal implications of their users, plus it allows them to track down and find the person responsible.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) – Stop Users From Uploading Sensitive/Critical Documents
While illegal downloading is one major threat for businesses, stopping users sharing company data and sensitive information (aka Data Loss Prevention or DLP) is another big problem.
With the explosion of (free) cloud-based storage services such as DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive and others, users can quickly and easily upload any type of document directly from their workplace to their personal cloud storage and instantaneously share it with anyone in the world, without the company’s consent or knowledge.
The smartly designed cloud-storage applications are able to use HTTP & HTTPS to transfer files, and circumvent firewall security policies and other types of protection.
More specialised application proxies such as GFI’s WebMonitor can effectively detect and block these applications, saving businesses major security breaches and damages.
Block Unauthorized Remote Control Applications (TeamViewer, Ammy Admin, Remote Desktop, VNC etc) & Ransomware
Remote control applications such as Teamviewer, Ammy Admin, Remote Desktop and others have been causing major security issues in organizations around the world. In most cases, users run these clients so they can then remotely access and control their workstation from home, continuing their “downloads” or transfer files to their home PC and other unauthorized activities.
In other cases, these remote applications become targets for pirates and hackers, who try to hijack sessions that have been left running by users.
Ransomware is a new type of threat where, through an application running on the user’s workstations, hackers are able to gain access and encrypt files found on the computers, even network drives and shares within a company.
In late 2015, popular Ammy Admin – a remote control software, was injected with malicious code and unaware home and corporate users downloaded and used the free software. Infected by at least five different malware versions, they gave attackers full access and control over the PC. Some of the malware facilitated stealing banking details, encrypting user files in exchange for money to decrypt them and many more.
In another case during 2015, attackers began installing ransomware on computers running Remote Desktop Services. The attackers obtained access via brute-force attack and then installed their malware which started scanning for specific file extensions. A ransom of $1000 USD was requested in order to have the files decrypted.
Blocking this type of applications is a major issue for companies as users uncontrollably make use of them, not realizing they are putting their company at serious risk.
Use of such applications should be heavily monitored and restricted because they pose a significant threat to businesses.
GFI’s WebMonitor’s extensive application list has the ability to detect and effectively block these and many other similar applications, putting an end to this major security threat.
The internet today is certainly not a safe place for users or organizations. Security threats resulting from users downloading and distributing illegal content, sharing company sensitive information, uncontrollably accessing their systems from home or other locations and the potential hazard of attackers gaining access to internal systems via RDP programs, is real. Avoid getting your company caught with its pants down and seek ways to tighten and enforce security policies that will help protect them from these ever present threats.