While the Websense URL database, for instance, categorizes several million known sites, there are over a trillion (with a "t") sites on the Net, and the number is growing larger by the second.
BorderWare's latest feature-add to its subscription-based e-mail and Web security platform approaches unknown Web sites your employees seek to surf to, and analyzes them for both malware infections as well as for appropriate (or, more accurately, inappropriate) categories and content, measured against the standards and restrictions established in your security/usage policy.
According to Shawn Eldridge, BorderWare vp of products and marketing, with whom I spoke recently, the real-time scanning and content analysis process is usually quick and essentially unnoticed by the user. "Large sites with lots of content take longer, of course," he says.
What's the advantage of on-the-fly inspection over traditional URL filtering?
"Both are important," Eldridge said. "But the Web is growing so rapidly that no database of URLs can keep up. Dynamic Inspection was designed to bridge that gap between known sites and the far larger number of unknown ones."
As an additional feature for the company's e-mail and Web filtering and security products, Dynamic Inspection offers an effective solution both to inadvertent encounters with risky URLs and the larger, I think, general problem of exuberantly surfing employees.
The feature is an add-on, which brings us back to a question we've looked at here before: Can your business justify the investment of thousands of dollars for filtering and Web monitoring?(BorderWare is sold through resellers, so I don't have specific per seat costs.)
Eldridge's answer was not dissimilar from others I've received:
"It depends on the nature of your IT resources," he said. "Take a look at the amount of time, personnel and money you spend on help desks and IT staff, and measure that against the cost of the service you're considering."
Fair enough: like any other business investment, you have to look at both your resources and your needs.
On the needs front, the question comes down to the volume of unwanted and potentially dangerous e-mail you're receiving throughout your organization. Get that number, then determine how much time and effort your IT staff is spending dealing with the stuff, and you'll have made a good start toward understanding the level of challenge you face, and the level of investment that challenge justifies.