Pearl Software Blog

Internet Monitoring and Web Filtering Topics

BYOD Policies for the Enterprise - Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Although BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a landscape that is constantly in flux, developing a policy for BYOD security is a critical first step in stabilizing this environment.  Businesses and institutions need to understand that there are many things that they can do to create a strong security policy. This can be accomplished by realizing that there are a number of fundamental policy concepts that can provide a framework that will accommodate the changing landscape.

Since employees desire to use all manner of mobile devices in the workplace, security is the primary concern. Consequently, the policy must work hand in hand with the security measures that are enacted by the IT department. Although the goal is to clearly define those devices that can be used and how they can be used in the workplace, IT departments must work in partnership with other major departments and C-suite level players to make these determinations.

Not only should the BYOD policy clearly define accepted devices as well as the resulting security policy for each, they must also describe the security software requirements as one of the security that would be in place. Its best to choose a software solution that can allow remote monitoring, blocking and filtering of the activities on a wide variety of devices as well as respond to Apps, private clouds, Wi-Fi networks and remote desktop services. More...

Business Cyber Attack - A $50,000 Bitter Pill (If You're Lucky)

Commonly known as cyber-attacks, data breaches, or cybercrimes, data theft (whether it is internally or externally driven) can bankrupt the average business. During the fallout of a data breach, businesses can lose proprietary data that form the core of their capital-generating strategies. The aftermath of this can result in massive lawsuits. As these incidents increase, businesses are asking how much a cyber incident could cost them.

The U.S. government collects information on cybercrime and cyber espionage through various means. Yet, it is still difficult to accurately assess the cost of cybercrime for the average business because of varying business landscapes and the diversity of cybercrime attack methods. In addition, businesses are often reluctant to report these incidents due to the potentially devastating fallout or further exposing vulnerabilities that subsequent cybercrime provocateurs could exploit.

Many reputable cybercrime surveys peg the average business’s annual losses at anywhere from $1 million to more than $3 million. This falls in line with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey, which found that 7 percent of U.S. organizations lost $1 million or more due to cybercrime incidents in 2013. The survey went on to show that 19 percent of U.S. entities reported financial losses of $50,000 to $1 million, compared with 8 percent of worldwide respondents. More...


Bad Things That Happen Without Web Monitoring Software

Today, most businesses rely on having fairly unrestricted access to the Internet as a tool in bottom-line productivity. Without balancing that unrestricted access with the use of web monitoring software for employee computer and network users, the bottom line benefits to open access quickly erode. Here are some of the things that can happen without web monitoring and filtering software that lead to costs that outweigh the benefits of open access.

Web monitoring software for your business is actually about safeguarding your network, assets, investment and reputation. One of the chief ways that businesses can get burned without web monitoring software is by having a compromised network where data loss will likely occur.

When employees access compromised sites or download infected files, they can compromise the network and put proprietary data at risk. Even one computer that is infected with malware, toolbars, adware, and other “add-ons” can spread throughout the network and cause system instability. Once inside a network, worms can spread fast, and that one user’s misstep on the web impacts everyone and the daily operations of the business. The cost in time and money to get things back on track is always more than any business wants to expend. More...

Web Filtering: Choke-Point vs. Endpoint

There are generally two main enterprise architectures used to monitor and/or filter access to content available on the Internet: Choke-Point (web proxy, router, firewall, etc.) and Endpoint (client-server). Each has its advantages and disadvantages that we will explore.

Choke-Point Architecture

The Choke-Point architecture provides a central point of access to the Internet for all users.  The Choke-Point is normally a server, firewall or router with embedded filtering software or one or more “Internet appliances” – stand-alone devices for targeted applications.  Websense is an example of a caching Web proxy server that provides a nearby store of Web pages and files originating on remote Web servers, allowing local network clients to access them more efficiently.  When it receives a request for a Web page, a caching proxy looks for the content in its local cache. If the content does not exist in the proxy’s cache, the proxy server retrieves it from the appropriate Internet server in order to satisfy the request and saves a copy in its local cache for future requests. Sonicwall and Watchguard are examples of firewalls with embedded filtering software; usually third party URL filtering databases.  Since requests to access Internet sites are sent from each workstation in the managed environment, a decision about whether the site may be accessed can be made centrally at the Choke-Point. If a user requests a site that is determined to be off limits, the server or device returns a response to the user indicating that access is denied. More...


The Cost of Malware and Spyware

As businesses of all sizes increasingly use cloud storage and services and incorporate the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach to employee management, malware and spyware are growing threats that can financially cripple or destroy a business. While it is important to understand the true costs of these attacks on a business, it is best to start with an explanation of the difference between malware and spyware and approaches to removing them.

What are Malware & Spyware?

Malware, which is short for “malicious software”, is designed to infiltrate and damage a computer without your consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, scareware and more. It can be present on websites and emails or hidden in downloadable files, photos, videos, freeware or shareware.

Spyware focuses on surreptitiously collecting information about your usage through approaches like key logging to record your keystrokes. Spyware usually doesn’t self-replicate like other forms of malware. However, like other forms of malware, spyware can cause just as much harm to a computer, a network and a business. This can have dire financial implications for a business if the spyware is able to access the business’s or its customers’ financial data.

Prevention & Removal More...

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...