Pearl Software Blog

Internet Monitoring and Web Filtering Topics

Malware vs. Spyware

Security is a growing concern for many businesses. With the number and scope of cyber attacks increasing every year, companies and organizations need to be aware of the different threats that face them, how to spot suspicious activity, and what to expect when a security incident occurs.

Malware and spyware are two terms often used when discussing cyber security. Although they are often used interchangeably, they actually carry different meanings. Malware and spyware are among the most common attacks that a company will experience, thus it is important to understand their differences and similarities.

Malware

Generally speaking, “malware” is a generic term for any piece of software that has negative or malicious intentions. Examples of malware include, but are not limited to, viruses, remote access tools (RATs), and trojans. Each of these types of software are used for specific purposes and carry different sets of consequences and threats. These applications can be used to control a victim’s computer, destroy software (and in some cases hardware), and even install other pieces of software without the victim’s knowledge. Thus, malware can be devastating in both personal and corporate contexts. More...

How Web Filtering Works

Internet Security has become an umbrella term encompassing everything from intrusion detection and antivirus to internet usage monitoring and filtering. This article discusses key concepts around the topic of Internet filtering and, more specifically, Web Filtering.

Leading Internet monitoring and filtering software solutions offer a combination of employee Internet management capabilities. Web Filtering is the method of blocking Web page access based on content classification techniques. Web Filtering is typically done either by contextual word analysis, flesh tone analysis, maintenance of a database of categorized Web sites or a combination of all three. Checking the context in which a word is used (e.g. sex as a verb versus sex as an adjective) and flesh tone analysis - looking for images that have flesh colors and thus a higher probability of nudity - provide the greatest incidence of false positives and thus tend to over-filter or over-block. More...

Senator Grassley – The NSF’s Worse Nightmare?

Last year Senator Grassley launched a probe to investigate reports that the National Science Foundation violated federal laws by approving use of taxpayer money for “unallowable expenses,” including alcohol, lobbying and extravagant parties.

A few years prior, the same Senator Grassley had his sights set on the NSF after hearing reports of the inordinate amount of employee time spent on explicit Internet activity.  Reports indicate that one NSF senior official was discovered to have spent 20 percent of his day “viewing sexually explicit images and engaging in sexually explicit online ‘chats’ with various women.”  Another employee was reported as having video chats to enable his on-the-job sexting.  The NSF has since implemented Web Filtering software. More...

Business Owners - Be Careful where you Sell End-of-Year Inventory

An online scammer recently tried to dupe the daughter of a Pearl Software employee.  The scammer was double-crossed, revealing his true country of origin, source IP and ISP.  The FBI is now involved.

For many small businesses, the lure of selling end-of-the-year inventory on eBay or Craigslist is tempting. The problem is that these sites can be littered with scammers looking for unprotected sellers that are not highly cautious during the holiday season. What follows are a few of the biggest scams that can cost businesses serious money and aggravation.

A scam that often occurs during the holidays is fake buyers who will complete the purchasing process through PayPal for items from a small business. Once the honest seller sends the item, the scamming buyer files a dispute or chargeback with PayPal saying that he or she never received the merchandise. This is dangerous because, in most instances, PayPal will side with the buyer if the seller has failed to take precautions. More...

Employee Privacy Expectations

It is strongly recommended that an Internet Acceptable Use Policy be developed and communicated to all employees when an organization begins using an Internet monitoring or web filtering product.

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an opinion in Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. considering whether an employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in emails she exchanged with her attorney via her web-based personal email account using a company laptop. In concluding that the former employee did have an expectation of privacy, the Court analyzed the adequacy of the notice provided by the company's electronic communications policy and the important public policy concerns raised by the attorney-client privilege. More...

Avoiding Wrongful Termination Actions

Terminating an employee for poor performance or misconduct is not simple. If inappropriate employee Internet usage supports your decision to remove an individual, it is important that you dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s”. The more documentation you have supporting Internet usage, the more likely you will be to prevail should an ex-employee file a wrongful termination suit against your company. More...

Stealing WiFi to Bypass Copyright Laws

Tougher legislation aimed at protecting copyrighted materials is driving illegal file sharing underground and causing users to unlawfully 'Piggy-back' off wireless networks in order to download content anonymously, leaving businesses open to bandwidth abuse and theft. Many businesses have set up loosely secured hotspots for visitors or for convenience. Illegal access by outsiders may cause businesses new headaches as illegal file sharing is traced back to the point of access.

There is precedence, however, that may help businesses that get ensnared in this situation. In 2005, a 40 year old Florida man was arrested and charged with a felony for stealing bandwidth from a nearby WiFi connection. The man was charged under a seldom used-Florida law that prohibits accessing a computer or network knowingly, willfully and without authorization. The owner of the WiFi connection was concerned he might be linked to whatever the accused was doing such as accessing porn sites or child pornography.

IT is Not Your Internet Cop

A comprehensive reporting module is a “must have” with any employee Internet management solution. The reporting module’s purpose is to synthesize raw data and turn it into information that can be easily understood and used by MANAGERS to manage their employees. The amount of time and labor cost a user spends at sports related Web sites is an example of an informative report. The number of violations to your organization’s Internet Acceptable Use Policy is another. Reports should provide information graphically and numerically and should be able to be scheduled to be run and distributed automatically. Advanced features like report customization and distributed reporting can also be beneficial. In large or growing organizations you may want to have managers run their own reports however you may want to limit you manager’s visibility to data of only those employees for which they are responsible. More...

Pearl Software College Scholarship Awarded

Pearl Software received numerous submissions for our college scholarship program. The student with the most creative and well-written essay is Occidental College's Isaac Glanzrock who discussed the role of technology in today’s society. Thank you to all that applied and congratulations Isaac! We at Pearl Software wish you all success in your academic endeavors.  Isaac's essay follows:

A Word of Caution Against the Consumption of Technology
By: Isaac Glanzrock

Smartphones that unlock via face detection. Car navigation systems that respond to voice. Undoubtedly, the gadgets of today have come very far from days past. The constant evolution of new technology continues to enhance human life on a daily basis. Drivers can now be routed to the nearest gas station with one voice command; cell phone users can get restaurant recommendations with just a few screen taps. Platforms such as Google Drive and Skype allow for innovation on an entirely new level, increasing efficiency by eliminating the need for physical presence. Video calls and online collaboration are the new norm for businesses, permitting ideas to be developed in one voice across thousands of miles. More...




Pearl Software Introduces Cloud-Based Web Filter

Exton, PA (PRWEB) May 21, 2014

Pearl Software announced the release of Echo.Cloud.Filter™, its cloud-based Web filtering solution. The Echo.Cloud.Filter provides organizations with over 60 content categories to block including custom Web white and black lists. Because its Web filtering occurs in the cloud, the solution is operating system and device independent. Filtering rules can be implemented without installing software on endpoints or adding additional hardware on-premises. Administrators can be confident that access to Web content is in line with policy, even if users are guests on the network or bring their own devices (BYOD) to use on an organization’s Wi-Fi hotspot.

“IT staff has the incredible challenge of securing their network while trying to accommodate users’ as they detach from their desktop with their personal devices like smart phones and tablets,” said Pearl Software CTO, Joe Field. “With Echo.Cloud.Filter, users of an organization’s Internet are easily pointed to our filtered DNS servers where custom access rules are applied. Administrators log into the Echo.Cloud.Filter portal to view usage details as well as set policy.”

Echo.Cloud.Filter provides organizational-level reporting and filtering policies. The product is configured in minutes as there is nothing to install and nothing to maintain. The Echo.Cloud.Filter DNS servers are redundant and multi-tiered, capable of filtering every URL request and either honoring them or redirecting them to a default or custom warning page. The Web filtering rules are based on Pearl’s Echo.Fitlers™ URL filter database, a component of Pearl Software’s leading suite of Internet monitoring and control products. For organizations needing additional monitoring and control features, Pearl Software provides Website.Echo as well as its flagship product, Pearl Echo.Suite.