Surfing the Wild Web Responsibly

St. Bernard’s iPrism helps keep employees in check.

Sure, we all do it—surfing the Web on company time. What could it possibly hurt? Well, you may not be concerned, but the CEO and HR manager probably are. From the CEO’s perspective, you’re not being paid to surf on company time; from the HR manager’s perspective, downloading Internet porn, jokes, music and so on probably doesn’t fall within your job description. This month, I take a look at an Internet appliance from St. Bernard Software that will help corporate employees toe the line in compliance with a company’s Internet Acceptable Usage Policy.

Product Information
$2,195, plus user licensing fees
St. Bernard Software

iPrism is a self-contained Internet appliance that compares outgoing URLs to a dynamic database of restricted sites to block access or simply monitor. The appliance was extremely easy to set up and configure. For the hardware installation, I simply attached a network cable between iPrism’s internal interface and the local switch, along with a crossover cable between the external interface and my Internet router. Effectively, all Internet traffic at that point must cross through the device. The iPrism setup software was just as easy to set up. I configured the appliance as a transparent bridge where both interfaces shared the same IP address. In this configuration, there was no need to install any additional software on the client computers. Clients send their Internet-bound packets out normally, and iPrism intercepts and filters the outbound HTTP requests.

All iPrism administration is done through a browser-based Java applet. I did have to install Windows XP Service Pack 1 to get the Java runtime environment, which turned out to be the most time-consuming part of the whole installation. There’s also a console port on the back of the device for out-of-band management. The iPrism manager software provides detailed, Web-based reporting through a predefined set of reports.

iPrism’s URL database is automatically updated daily from the St. Bernard Web site. Obviously, there are millions of sites on the Web and you can’t expect all of these to be rated, so you have the option to contribute unrated URLs to the central St. Bernard database where they’re manually verified by St. Bernard.

I did a Google search for the word “sex” and clicked through the first three pages of results. iPrism correctly blocked all the blatantly “inappropriate sites,” as well as some sites that—although adult in nature—weren’t necessarily pornographic. You can restrict sites based on 60 category filters, which can relate to anything from sexuality and profanity to religion and politics. iPrism is smart enough to do reverse lookups on all IP addresses submitted in a URL to prevent users from trying to bypass a filter by not using a fully qualified domain name.

St. Bernard Software iPrism
When a site is blocked, the user can request an override of the filter. (Click image to view larger version.)

If a site’s blocked, users are shown the page depicted in the graphic. At that point, if their user accounts were previously granted the privilege to override the filter, they can click the Override/Request Access button and log on with their iPrism accounts. If they weren’t granted this privilege, they may request an override from the administrator. The iPrism administrator will then have to grant or deny the override manually. An NT 4.0 domain or any LDAP-compliant operating system can handle user authentication and be used to configure per-user iPrism profiles. You can use these profiles, for example, to grant the override privilege to specific users.

Face it, the Internet is a zoo, and corporate employees may be having just a little too much fun on company time. If you want to regulate that access, you’ll need a usage policy and some means of enforcing it. iPrism is a great solution for keeping users “honest” and in compliance. It’s easy to configure and administer and gives your users the flexibility to override a filter. In short, iPrism will make the CEO and HR manager happy and your employees more productive.

About the Author

James Carrion, MCM R2 Directory, MCITP, MCSE, MCT, CCNA, CISSP has worked as a computer consultant and technical instructor for the past 16 years. He’s the owner of and principal instructor for MountainView Systems, LLC, which specializes in accelerated Microsoft Certification training.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Oct 31, 2012

I am currently at home, and it blocked nearly all fun sites, and email.

Tue, Jan 18, 2011

The genius engineers at Edgewave (formerly St. Bernard) pushed out an upgrade with no advance communication that turned our device into a glorified boat anchor. Sorry that functionality no longer works. Then it took 8 hours for them to explain how to correct their screw-up.

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 ratdude747 New Albany

my high school has it... it sucks... i can understand porn and facebook... but forums? BLOCKED. games? BLOCKED. the only thing not blocked is gmail, and they kick us off the computer if we are caught using it (they claim that becaue we are all a bunch of "pornheaed virus carriers"). it really sucks.

Wed, May 27, 2009 flynn wagner Pissed off land

this sucks, can't do anything in any class involving computers because it blocks off game sites completely

Fri, Feb 13, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous

i hate your blocking system you made you get screen doored on

Thu, Oct 16, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

I thinl iprism is junk!!!! school was more fun without it!!!

Wed, Sep 17, 2008 My name doesnt matter Fuck yo No Ip

Please send my school a virus. bye

Mon, Apr 7, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

i hate it

Mon, Apr 7, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

i hate it

Mon, Apr 7, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

it sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fri, Apr 27, 2007 Mike Anonymous

The only decent site it lets me go on is Wikipedia. I hate it.

Tue, Mar 13, 2007 Anonymous Anonymous

Its easy.. type "" in the window and viola!!.. take that St. Bernard...

Mon, Dec 11, 2006 dudeman Anonymous

This software is crazy lame. Censorship is crazy lame, too. My school blocked ALL of Google Images. Now I can't look up pictures of eucalyptus trees, so I'm practically forced to waste my time looking at all the porno that is still easily accessible. Seriously, what's gained by censoring porn anyway? Kids can still look up pictures of smashed up bloody babies if they want, or solicit themselves as sex slaves to 40 year-olds who still live at home. But they can't look up pictures of eucalyptus trees. F*cking Puritanical Bible belt bullsh*t.

Fri, May 5, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

st bernard filtering system can go fuck themselves mongloidishly

Fri, Apr 21, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

My company uses itand is very happy with it. Only pervs are upset because they can't access the junk it blocks out. Congrats! to the network admins at these schools for using a good product.

Mon, Jan 9, 2006 Piece of SHIT EL Centro

I Just wanna play chess on Yahoo. I LOve chess and thats all i wanna do. Fuck u Bernard ass hole mother fucker!! I Just wanna Play chess is that too much to ask? Fuck You ALL!!

Wed, Oct 26, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

St. Bernard blocks Maddox. What the ****!?!

Mon, Sep 26, 2005 Agrivated Student Anonymous

I find it hard to beleive that my school paid two grand for virus protection....that doesn't work. Well, I can but thats beside the point.

We often have to much trouble not being able to access websites that we need to be able to view for school work purposes. Our teachers have given us assignments and then had to change them because the school would not allow us to do the needed research.

I know some of it is the schools fault because of what they have banned, but some of it also is the software. It blocks a lot of random website that would be very useful.

The school has also had problems with it glitching. It went total hardcore lock down on us once and registered everyone as elementary students.

Tue, Jan 18, 2005 Idiot His butt


Tue, Jan 18, 2005 Idiot His butt


Tue, Jan 18, 2005 Guy Pik Pik City

You should sign a petition to ban them from earth or put them out if buisness. I can't do my work and I got low marks for not being able to do my work. To the teacher it was another lame EXCUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I demand better service that they only get rid of the gay and porny stuff and that they leave my games and studies alone!!!

Wed, Sep 22, 2004 Student Anonymous

He's right, but, I'm on my school's system right now, and it already blocked half of this web page. What do they expect us to do after school? You see my point.
I mean yeah, block the porn and downloads, but the game sites and everything else like study sites? Now come on.

Sat, Aug 21, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

I am a computer science teacher at secondary school level.
This product is a piece of garbage. It blocks a large percentage of perfectly respectable sites.
Since my management insisted on installing it I have had to remove about 35% of my curriculum because those parts involve accessing the net.
I urge all teachers to resist using this product. I have decided to look for another job solely because of this crap.
St Bernard software, I hope you all contract horrible diseases and suffer for years.

Fri, May 14, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

yeah my school uses this software too and it's a fucking piece of shit. it blocks off random websites that I need to use to do my homework... just because there's too much bandwith or shit like that. my analysis: dumb dumb dumb!

Thu, May 13, 2004 Yhue Suk Fug-off NC

*My school internet is constantly blocked and it sucks. What am i suppoced to do when i finish my work in computer class. Maybe i could look up fun and interesting facts.* I agree with that statement and would like to add that iPrism is gay and i will find a way around other dumb products of its ilk!

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Fuck you Anonymous

My school internet is constantly blocked and it sucks. What am i suppoced to do when i finish my work in computer class. Maybe i could look up fun and interesting facts.

Sat, Nov 1, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Get a life you sterile imps

Wed, Mar 26, 2003 Randy Hughes Pine Ridge, SD

Looking to help customer move from current content filtering device to something better. James always provides excellent information. I feel much more confident about this product since he has installed it himself.

Tue, Feb 25, 2003 Brian Haines Los Angeles, CA

Extremely well written. We've used iPrism for over 2 years, without any issues. It's great. I highly recommend it.

Fri, Jan 3, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Very company is a very happy iPrism customer!

Mon, Dec 2, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Could do with some improvement

Mon, Dec 2, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Not bad does leave things out

Fri, Nov 15, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Well written.

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