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Content Filtering: Websense Enterprise 5.5

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Websense Enterprise 5.5
Websense
Price: Starts at $15/user

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Websense Enterprise 5.5
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Employees often take advantage of their company's network to trade music and movie files, or chat on instant messager. Websense Enterprise 5.5 gives organizations a weapon against this abuse and lost productivity by adding peer-to-peer blocking to its URL filtering tool.

Websense's Web filtering is completely database-driven. Sites are added to the URL database using a process that includes some automatic classification algorithms. Daily database updates are included in the license fee, and real-time updates are also available as add-on modules. The database classifies some 6 million sites into 80 categories under themes you'd expect--entertainment, drugs and gambling. One of the package's strong points is the level of granularity within these categories. Setting up subcategories allows enterpries to filter URLs that violate policy, while allowing those with legitimate business/research value for their environment. The IM and P2P traffic filters funtioned effectively against MSN, AOL and Yahoo! IM applications. Websense also offers an add-on module that filters and generates reports on IM attachments.

The base package is a reasonable $15 per user, but with six optional add-on modules, priced at $5 per user each, this can quickly inflate the product to a hefty $45 per user.

The productivity, bandwidth and security "premium groups" are vital components of any Web filtering solution and shouldn't be viewed as "optional" products. Without these add-ons, Websense won't filter traffic related to advertising, stock trading, spyware, phishing and streaming media.

Exec Summary
Effective P2P and IM filtering
Customizable filtering categories
Easy setup and management
Robust reporting
Pricey with add-on modules

We had no problem installing Websense--with a little help from technical support. The system interfaced with our Active Directory using LDAP. It can also interface with popular firewalls, proxy servers and network devices.

We found that the management interface was so intuitive that we were able to create filtering rules without referencing the product documentation. The extensive reporting capabilities will satisfy even the most demanding data hound. Websense uses Crystal Reports to generate reports from templates; the Websense Explorer starts with a high-level overview and allows you to drill down. The Real-Time Analyzer reports current activity.

Websense Enterprise is a robust Internet filtering solution ideal for large enterprises with complex filtering needs. Smaller organizations could benefit from its capabilities, but may find it a bit pricy with the add-on modules.

--Mike Chapple

This was first published in January 2005

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