Larry Rouse, the IT manager at 121 Financial in Jacksonville, Fla., said the $428 million 37,200-member credit union took a big step forward last summer when it installed the cutting-edge Bloxx Tru-View Web filtering solution.
Using what he calls a set it and forget it approach, the IT manager now can save his energy for marathon training, rather than running around the office.
Before, Rouse and his four-member IT staff were stretched thin to keep computer database settings up to date for 140 end users at 10 locations. A 20-year Navy veteran who joined 121 Financial in 2003 after serving as an electronics war technician on U.S. ships, Rouse is concerned with both efficiency and security.
“Our previous software was a problem, as it kept blocking websites that employees needed to access to do their work,” Rouse said. “For example, it would block the check-processing site we use. Every time that happened, our IT staff had to go in and manually unblock the site. We also had to help workers with various levels of security access.” When a new user came onboard, Rouse and his staff had to spend time determining their settings.
The installation of Bloxx Tru-View was seamless, Rouse said, “They sent a technician to set it up, but I could have done it myself. “
It’s been smooth sailing since then, Rouse said “Since July 1, we’ve only had one false positive. We used to have two or three a week.” The system updates automatically every 15 minutes.
At its best, Web filtering can increase employee productivity and lower costs, making for smoother and more reliable interaction with customers and business transactions. It also tracks employees’ online activities.
To filter Internet use, businesses used to erect firewalls, based on their lists of “good” and “bad” Internet sites. As the number of websites has grown, it’s no longer possible to maintain those lists of Internet addresses, or URLs. So web filtering companies have created databases of millions of web addresses, while giving IT staffs the ability to set parameters as needed.
But the Internet grows by some 7.5 million new or renamed sites per day, so it’s nearly impossible to maintain these URL databases.
As well, bad actors, including hackers from around the globe, keep finding new ways to interrupt Internet activities. URL database management is reactive –
first you suffer the problem, then you fix it. Common headaches include phishing and spear phishing emails that try to trick recipients into giving up personal information.
Bloxx Tru-View addresses these issues, said Eamonn Doyle, president of the privately owned company in Watertown, Mass. The Bloxx Tru-View technology uses real-time page scanning that can analyze patterns and text on a Web page at the time the page is requested. Tru-View compares that page to information it has previously gathered, using a number of specific categories chosen by the customer.
Page scanning lets Tru-View allow or block the new site before it gets to the user. Tru- view also incorporates other technology related to URL databases and key word scanning.
Bloxx is a step ahead of traditional list-based filters, because it can guard against anonymous proxies, Doyle said. “These hop-in sites are set up to allow users to bypass filtering.” There are more than 100,000 registered anonymous proxy sites. They forward users from one site to another, going around the blacklisted URLs of a typical Web filter, and potentially exposing an employer to risk. Bloxx can detect these sites in real time and block them from reaching the computer user.
For a business like 121 Financial, anonymous proxies are just one of 50 default settings, including categories for shopping and travel sites, that Tru-Views uses to filter up to 6 million web pages a day.
Bloxx customers include businesses, schools and other organizations around the globe, with more than 5 million end users. “Tru-View works well for credit unions, which typically are smaller companies with just a few IT specialists,” Doyle said.
Bloxx also tracks employee computer use at 121 Financial, Rouse said. The software generates weekly reports which human resources managers can easily access and review. “121 doesn’t want employees to become cyber loafers”, Rouse said. “But we have fairly liberal policies for personal use of computers.” Employees can check their Facebook pages or do some online shopping during lunch or other break time.
While Bloxx Tru-View is state-of-the-art, “There’s one thing we agreed that we won’t do,” Doyle said. “We can’t stop leaks,” that are caused by error or deliberate wrongdoing on the part of employees. It’s up to managers to keep an eye on employees who are careless with their laptops or share proprietary data.