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Barbarians at the gate? Not with this Web gateway

Stop malware with Webgate from Mi5 Networks

IT Best Practices Alert By Linda Musthaler, Network World
October 06, 2008 12:09 AM ET
Linda Musthaler
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According to Gartner, “The Internet and Internet applications will be the primary sources of malware infections in the enterprise in 2008 and beyond. However, most organizations do not effectively filter malware from Web traffic. Detecting and preventing malware infections will increasingly require a network gateway at the Internet edge.”

I don’t know if John Boline read that statement from Gartner before he went looking for a Web gateway product. Probably not. But Boline did start shopping for a solution after his company had a couple of events that let the IT department know they had a problem.

Boline is a service manager at Hagerman & Company, a provider of CAD/CAM products and services. Hagerman is headquartered in Illinois and has offices in 18 other U.S. cities. The company runs all Internet access from its branches through the corporate office. About a year ago, some employees were downloading work materials off a legitimate Web site that just happened to be infected with malware. Before long, local PCs at Hagerman were also infected and started serving up undesirable content. The devices had to be cleaned manually.

This sort of incident kept repeating itself. Boline says the company suffered a rate of malware infection of about one machine every week. The time and effort to clean these PCs was growing. He resolved to find a solution that would stop the malware from entering his network at the Web gateway.

Boline read an article about Webgate from Mi5 Networks and decided to check it out. He talked to an Mi5 systems engineer about Hagerman’s network configuration. Hagerman has one router going to the Internet in general, and another router that handles traffic to and from the branch offices. Above all else, Boline didn’t want to have to reconfigure his network to accommodate a Web security product. Once he was assured that Webgate could work in this scenario, Boline decided to evaluate the product for a month.

Boline installed Webgate and deployed it first in “monitor” mode, then in “block” mode. Setting up the gateway was straightforward, and minor configuration issues were resolved in half an hour. After that, he says the results “were amazing.” He saw devices on his network that were infected with malware and no one knew it; Webgate automatically cleaned them. Boline now uses Webgate to block access to undesirable sites, such as gambling, shopping, adult oriented, and even pop-up ads. The device allows content filtering within the parameters of their accepted use policy, screening out sites that have no legitimate business use.

Webgate also scans a Web site’s content before that content ever gets to the end user’s PC. That’s an important feature these days, as drive-by malware is cropping up on all sorts of legitimate Web sites to deliver payloads to unsuspecting visitors. This is what happened to Boline’s colleagues that prompted his search for Web gateway protection.

Boline has customized a warning for his users if they try to visit a blocked site or encounter infected content. They see a Hagerman & Company logo, along with a message that says that the content or Web site has been blocked for security purposes.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.

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