By Sean Wilkins
In December, Cisco Systems announced that it would be acquiring ScanSafe, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) web security provider. The interest of Cisco Systems is rather clear as they are continuing to build on their existing appliance based product lines which they acquired through their purchase of IronPort Systems.
Cisco’s existing product lines offer a number of different appliance options which allow companies the ability to block the various web based threats in existence. The problem that this type of solution has is that it does require constant tweaking of the filtering and analysis settings as well as someone to constantly keep an eye on current events as zero-day attacks become more prominent.
For many large corporations this is not that much of a problem as people are already in place that handle day-to-day network security and can easily perform these functions. However, in companies that do not have this capacity this is where this type of service is rather interesting.
ScanSafe offers three main services: Web Filtering, Web Security and Anywhere+.
Their Web Filtering product is targeted at those companies which are looking for a full featured web filtering solution which is managed externally and is always up-to-date, thus pushing the maintenance duties of an appliance solution to ScanSafe.
The solution offers complete control over all web content including SSL encrypted sessions. Web content is screened through their system (in the “Cloud”), which uses a number of different techniques to eliminate mal-ware and other threats. These technologies include an industry-leading (per ScanSafe) URL filtering database along with file type filters, and real-time scanning of search results. Web sites are also categorized in order to make management easy. Further granular inbound and outbound policies can also be created to monitor and prevent confidential and personal data security breaches.
Their Web Security product is targeted the same but adds some additional functionality which can be vital in today’s networked environment. This includes support for zero-day attacks. If you do not know what a zero-day attack is then an easy definition would be an attack without any lead time, thus making it almost impossible for any signature based system to detect it before the attack is already started or completed.
The Web Security product does this by building on their Web Filtering solution. The Web Security solution adds their Outbreak Intelligence engine. This engine combines a number of technologies which are used to detect a number of different attacks from various behaviors. These technologies include detection technologies, automated heuristics, and multiple “scanlets” which are used to analyze different types of web content in real time.
Their third product is Anywhere+; this product is aimed at the constantly rising number of remote employees who access the Internet.
The typical solution for dealing with Internet security for remote employees is to either have a client based anti-malware solution or to force all users back through a VPN through a corporate office web security solution. Obviously, neither one of these is optimal. Client solutions can be weak when working with corporate data and the added financial expense and additional response time make a VPN solution rather inefficient.
What the Anywhere+ solution does is provide the same functionality as Web Security but adds an added layer of encryption. All web data is encrypted and sent to one of the ScanSafe data centers for analysis, it is then routed out to its final destination already scanned.
It is obvious in today’s environment that security is one of the highest, if not the highest, thing on the minds of company management. Just a small data breach can cause many times the cost of good security solutions. The ScanSafe products offer a very competitive solution which enables companies without the interest in dedicated web security personnel to have best-in-class protection.
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