Web security can keep you out of trouble


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008

As anyone who reads the local news media knows, even prominent public officials can get into big trouble by sending offensive e-mails.

As should be obvious by now, allowing employees free reign on the Web can be a huge data-security, employee-productivity or legal issue.

“;It's not just about adult content,”; says Ho'ala Greevy, security expert and founder of Pau Spam. “;There's a potential minefield of online dangers for any company.”;

Mike Meyer, founder of Islanda Tech, agreed.

“;For just about any organization—for profit or nonprofit—it's critical to protect your company by controlling what data can be e-mailed by employees or what can be shared over IM links or on personal Web sites or blogs,”; he says.

So what can you do about it?

Large organizations, says Meyer, “;generally have full-on IT departments that can employ a Web-security appliance linked to firewalls that can report, filter and monitor Web and e-mail content.”;

They also always have established access and usage policies for all employees.

Small- and medium-sized organizations are a different story. They may not be able to employ in-house IT experts, but they still can put together access and usage policies. Meyers says there are a number of affordable Web-security systems to provide content filtering that prevent both inappropriate content and data-system threats. A good Web filtering system keeps “;malware”; from being imported and also monitors obvious sources of “;bad”; content, whether from peer-to-peer or Web 2.0 sites such as chat rooms.

  If the resources are there, a smaller company should consider outsourcing network and IT services. The “;bad guys”; have become extremely sophisticated, so if you're a smaller firm, having a full time pro managing threats to your data is preferable.

What kinds of packages are out there? If you go online and search the phrase “;Web security and filtering,”; you'll find a ton of products.

Meyer likes Websense, which is used by most Hawaii state agencies. Greevy is partial to outsourcing Web filtering, but otherwise recommends that nonprofits or very small businesses use a free service called OpenDNS ( to block sites that might be dangerous or undesirable.

In short, you'll need a good Web-filtering system. You shouldn't have to be reminded by stories in the press that this is a good idea.