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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

A fresh approach to blocking unsuitable web content.

23 April, 2008
Policy based classification of URL content with contextual text scanning sets Bloxx Tru-View Technology apart from the competition in terms of protecting organisations from sites which they deem unsuitable.
Standard web filtering is a scandal claimed the Bloxx stand graphics at InfoSecurity Europe, a bold claim pushed right under the noses of the web filtering community also exhibiting at Olympia in April. The scandal is simple â€" with reputation based filtering where sites accessed are compared to a table of black-listed sites before connecting, there is never an opportunity to fully cover the scope of sites to be filtered. Typically, such databases hold around 25 million of the available (and growing) 600 million that are unsuitable.

Realising that an environment of constant updates and poor coverage was ineffective, Bloxx decided to take a different approach and opted for real time contextual text scanning and URL classification at the time of access. In this way, web sites are assessed on an individual basis and not purely based on a look-up table, although a black list database is also used.

I asked Eamonn Doyle, the Managing Director of Bloxx, about the sensitivity of the text scanning since this approach has the potential of blocking sites that don't contain unsuitable content. A news site could contain the word pornography but without offensive content.

"Sensitivity levels can be adjusted to suit each organisation", explained Eamonn. "Shopping sites are a common example of this. Many sites have the ability to buy on-line but wouldn't necessarily be classified as shopping sites so our scoring system enables the sensitivity to be set to allow you to define what you want to let through the filter"

The classification of web-sites is elegant and simple to use enabling policies to be set against each classification including such favourites as shopping, gambling and social networking sites. One classification is anonymous proxies and this is one of the big advantages of Tru-View Technology. For anyone willing to take a few minutes to research the subject, they can access unsuitable sites through anonymous proxies, bypassing their filtering software â€" this is the favourite method for school pupils to bypass content management policies in schools. Tru-View Technology, however, recognises anonymous proxies and won't let them through the filter. This is virtually impossible using the traditional blacklisting approach because proxies are set up faster than they can be blocked, argues Eamonn.

"It works very well", continued Eamonn "you can tell by the hate mail we get from kids!"

The product itself is appliance based and doesn't suffer from latency. The interface is simple, straightforward to set up and apply policies and comes with a strong reporting function which ranges from drop down listings for selected parameters to full management reports based on policies making this an ideal tool for both executing your web access policies and managing your compliance to them.

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