Product Reviews

Websense Enterprise

More than your average web filter.

It's an uncomfortable situation for the network administrator: You sift through web logs one Friday afternoon (because finally the network is running smoothly enough to allow you time to play catch-up), and you discover that John Q User has been visiting illicit, immoral, illegal and most definitely unproductive Web sites during working hours. You dust off your Internet Usage Policy and Procedure handbook to figure out what should be done. In the end you wind up with a chagrinned employee, an irate boss and an unhappy network administrator who now has the task of putting out an e-mail to remind everyone of the surfing policies.

Websense Enterprise 4.3 removes the need for all human intervention from the above scenario. Utilizing a database of more than 2.4 million sites, it works with an existing “integration provider” such as Microsoft Internet Security and Accelerator Server to filter URLs and to prohibit or allow sites based on more than 75 pre-defined categories, such as adult material, gambling, and health.

I chose to incorporate Websense Enterprise into an installation of Microsoft Internet Security and Accelerator server. Websense Enterprise installed without incident on my ISA server. After putting in the required registration key and downloading the 25M database, I loaded up my browser ready to be deterred from all of the illicit sites I was poised to test. I knew from the exceptional documentation that the global policy would immediately start filtering and blocking Web sites. I went straight to and was surprised to see the screen-full of pictures that I'm glad my boss didn't see. Forty-five minutes later, I decided to restart the Web Proxy service, which I finally realized I’d have to do to reload the ISAPI filter. I missed the part of the documentation that mentioned the need to do this; it would have been nice to have a dialog box during the installation mention this requirement. After restarting the Web Proxy service, Websense jumped into action and presented me with a courteous webpage informing me that "sex" was blocked. As I could no longer view illicit material, I figured I would book a flight to Mexico. Websense saw through my ploy and informed me that making travel arrangements, though permitted in this profile, was being monitored by Websense. So then I decided I would look for another job and was gracefully declined by the now-familiar Websense Web page. I was very impressed with how many sites Websense was aware of.

Websense Enterprise Manager includes a wide selection of pre-defined filter categories. (Click image to view larger version.)

Websense goes way beyond basic filtering and offers many advanced features. One of those features is the use of custom policies to limit the viewing time by category with a built-in time quota system. All in all Websense was very easy to install and implement and did everything advertised. The extended feature set is well worth the yearly cost per user of roughly $15 per year. After I was done testing, I immediately recommended to my boss that we acquire this service because, although we have a written policy for Internet usage in place, it would be nice to let Websense handle the ugly work when a user goes astray.

About the Author

Rodney Landrum is an MCSE working as a data analyst and systems engineer for a software development company in Pensacola, Florida.  He has a new book from Apress entitled ProSQL Server Reporting Services.


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