Websense Checks Mobile Code

One consequence of Microsoft Corp.'s .Net platform is that mobile code (code that's downloaded from the Internet and executed on a local machine) will likely become much more prevalent.

One consequence of Microsoft Corp.s .Net platform is that mobile code (code thats downloaded from the Internet and executed on a local machine) will likely become much more prevalent.

IT managers can factor this into their strategic security plans with Websense Inc.s screening database called Premium Group III, which blocks access to Web sites that contain malicious mobile code.

In eWeek Labs tests, the Premium Group III database, an add-on that works only on the Websense Enterprise Version 4.4 employee Internet access management system, did a good job of protecting test machines from problem Web sites.

The Premium Group III database module became available last month and costs $5 more per user per year beyond the $15 per user per year subscription for the base Websense product. The base price is in the ballpark for Web monitoring and blocking tools from competitors, such as Secure Computing Corp.s SmartFilter and SurfControl plc.s SuperScout Web Filter, but the extra cost of Premium Group III should give IT managers pause.

The protection offered by the Premium Group III database was useful for our most wide-ranging Internet surfers but was seldom used during most Internet browsing. This is because most employees who know their Internet usage is being monitored and controlled will likely stay within the approved usage policy.

We had to aggressively search the Internet to get the Premium Group III filter to provide protection for the test systems.

However, researchers and users who routinely visit a variety of sites will likely benefit from a subscription to the Premium Group III database. As .Net and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java 2 Enterprise Edition Web services platforms gain greater presence, it is clear that products such as Premium Group III will play a greater role in blocking access to dangerous Web sites.

We installed Websense Enterprise Version 4.4 on a Dell Computer Corp. PowerEdge 6300 quad-processor server running Windows 2000 Server. Because Websense uses a proxy to monitor and manage employee use of the Internet, we also installed Microsofts Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000 and used a plug-in from Websense to integrate the two systems.

After that, it was a simple matter to order the Premium Group III service and get the additional information in our nightly download from Websense. Premium Group III is based on the URLs cataloged by Websense. The company scours the Web looking for sites that contain mobile code, then blocks sites that contain malicious code. This meant we could add a layer of protection against Web-based worms, viruses and Trojan horses.

Premium Group III is not a replacement for anti-virus software but is a good way to prevent users from ending up at a site that makes exposure to these threats a possibility. During tests, we found Premium Group III was very helpful in blocking and alerting us when users attempted to access sites that were blocked.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.