A Higher Tab Will Give Tighter Reins

NetSpective offers comprehensive monitoring of Internet use and network security-for a price.

Telemate.net Software Inc.s NetSpective 4.7 allows companies to extract data from an array of network sources, enabling them to monitor, analyze and manage both employee Internet use and overall network security. Its wide support for security appliances makes it a good monitoring choice for heterogeneous environments.

NetSpective 4.7 is on the expensive side; the WorkGroup edition is priced at $3,495. The Enterprise edition, which offers filtering and blocking of software applications, URLs and ports, and management of filtering levels, starts at $5,995. Support for additional data sources is $2,995 per source.

Smaller companies might consider a less expensive alternative such as WebTrend Corp.s $1,999 Firewall Suite 3.0 if price is a concern. WebTrends software monitors firewalls and supports vendors capably but does not monitor Internet use and falls short on reporting capabilities and ease of use.

NetSpective 4.7, which was released in late November, supports Windows 2000 security appliance firewalls from vendors such as WatchGuard Technologies Inc. and NetScreen Inc., as well as Cisco Systems Inc.s SAFE e-business security framework.

eWeek Labs tested NetSpective 4.7 WorkGroup on a single-server network running Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.s FireWall-1 Version 4.1 firewall. Installation was simple, but administrators should note that it will take a bit of time to specify the areas they wish to monitor.

The software is bundled with Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server 7.0 and Seagate Software Inc.s Crystal Reports Professional 7. We set up NetSpective 4.7 to monitor Internet use by individual users, departments and divisions and to provide network intrusion reporting and proxy caching.

No hardware hardships

The hardware infrastructure needed no modification, which was a pleasant surprise: Lower-end products from Websense Inc. and others require some firewall modifications to properly monitor activity.

We also did a trend analysis on Internet traffic and frequency. The SQL database allowed us to process large files quickly and offered a better format than Microsoft Access Database or Sybase Inc. databases for trend analysis.

Crystal Reports provided a customized, easy-to-understand business report for each data source we monitored. The reports for the firewall and Internet usage logs provided useful, accurate information at a glance.

Cost Allocation was another tool that stood out in tests. This function can be used for user and organization analysis of costs based on employees time spent on the Internet. We set up alarms to tip us off when users or groups spent more than their allocated amount of time and e-mailed warnings to the offenders. The application also allows administrators to send alarms via their companys intranet.

NetSpective 4.7 easily integrates with Web-based applications as long as the server itself is getting log information files, from which NetSpective can take data and create reports.