Content filtering becomes an escalating challenge as Internet users become more adept at sidestepping efforts to block their views. Today, Allot Communications Inc. is rolling out an upgraded version of its NetPure content filtering system, with added Russian and Spanish language filtering support and improved management capabilities.
Organizations across sectors are looking for ways to keep their network users focused on the job at hand, but users are learning how to bypass fixed filtering lists by pointing their browsers to proxy sites, such as translation sites. When even school children know how to sidestep English-language blockers, filtering systems need to stay a step ahead—a lesson that Internet Service Providers such as Pacific Island TeleServices are learning.
"I was called up to the high school here on the island two years ago," said Toby Lawler, co-owner of the sole ISP in Kaunakakai, Hawaii. "The kids were finding French sites, and the system that the school had in place didnt block them."
Lawler deployed Allots NetPure appliance on his network about a year ago to offer value-added services to his customers on the small island, and the system is working to his satisfaction.
"NetPure is not your standard look-for-key-words system. Its pretty smart," Lawler said. "And as an engineer stuck on a remote island, I really appreciate the tech support from Allot."
Today, Allot is rolling out a "fine-tuned" version of NetPure to better suit internal enterprise needs, enhancing the technology to block disguised off-limits sites and at the same time cutting back on over-blocking errors. NetPure uses artificial intelligence to analyze and categorize the HTML page of a requested site, looking at many characteristics of the page, including color, font, number of pictures, and word repetition.
Comparing unwanted Web sites to spam, P.G. Narayanan, CEO for Allot Americas, said that filtering cannot rely on periodically updated databases.
"On the fly we dynamically look at content," said Narayanan, at Allot Americas main office in Minneapolis. "On the fly, an IT manager can authorize someone to go through [to a site] or not go through."
Version 2.1 incorporates improved management and reporting capabilities, allowing network administrators to assign content access according to user name and password, and to generate reports by user name. Also, large enterprises are now able to deploy NetPure units in branch offices and administer a single policy for all locations from the headquarters.
Because of sexual harassment policies in place at a lot of large enterprises, content filtering is becoming ever-more important, Narayanan said. "You dont want someone looking at pictures of sexually explicit content with someone walking behind him in a cube," he said.