FTIL tackles Web 2.0 security threats with content filtering

Financial Technologies adopts content filtering technology to monitor and manage real time Web 2.0 threats.

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The rapid usage of collaborative tools and social networking sites among enterprises and its employees has widened the scale of security threats. Protection against Web 2.0 threats have become top concerns of organizations. This is especially the case for businesses like Mumbai-based Financial Technologies India Ltd (FTIL), creator of software products for financial markets and exchanges. The thought of Web 2.0 threats could be nightmarish, felt Keshav Samant, head of FTIL's technology division. So when the parent company, Financial Technology Group, issued a mandate for protection of its software Intellectual Properties (IP) because of its 10 exchange networks and more than 350,000 trading licenses, the Indian company got into the act. Although FTIL already possessed web traffic monitoring technology, there was a dire need for more advanced solutions to monitor and manage Web 2.0 traffic.

FTIL's evaluation journey began with evaluation of some of leading vendor solutions in the market, and UTM offerings that offered content filtering as one of its feature. But Samant was keen on a focused solution. The company was unsure of hosting everything (firewall, content filtering, IDS, etc) from a single box. "The UTM market is evolving. We would like to wait and watch. I can probably have it as a level two defense," explains Samant. Finally, after much evaluation, the company decided to go in for Websense's Web security gateway solution that specializes in web 2.0 threat protection. The main evaluation criteria for selection of the content filtering solution were ease of use, quality of logging, reporting, and ability to monitor Web 2.0 as well as encrypted (SSL) traffic.

Making the choice
Financial Technologies made its choice. It was going to rely on appliance-based offerings instead of software-based approaches, as the former combined multiple services onto a single platform and helped save overheads of servers, rack space and power supply.

What is more, several traditional IT security and control technologies do not address the risks associated with accessing dynamic content in real time. Web security gateway addresses this with three main features -- real time dynamic threat protection, real time web content categorization, and SSL traffic inspection, says Samant.

There was a solution in place earlier, so we had to replicate every policy. We had to ensure there were no major disruptions and user inconvenience.
Keshav Samant
Head ITFinancial Technologies India Ltd

Real time dynamic threat protection allows FTIL's Web gateway to communicate with Websense libraries and get real time threat updates. This is important, because the company is exposed to plenty of Web 2.0 traffic due to increasing usage of collaborative tools like instant messaging and social networking sites. The company also provides payment solutions that require access to various sites. "While we provide access for business requirements, we need to ensure monitoring," says Samant. The real time web content categorization helps FTIL to create policies that permit good traffic while blocking components from the same site that are deemed to pose a threat to the security. SSL traffic inspection capability allows applying policies on encrypted traffic and control usage of illegal proxies though its infrastructure. Other solutions evaluated by FTIL also provided these features, but at an extra cost.

According to Samant, the intuitive graphical user interface and single window interface were also the decisive factors. The Web gateway solution offers a comprehensive management dashboard with log viewer and a report generator. It also offers ability to recognize Microsoft Active Directory users and apply group wise policy.

In September 2009, FTIL felt the need for content filtering solution. The testing took three weeks. FTIL's challenge was to deploy the solution within shortest time, as it did not have the luxury of longer downtime. "There was a solution in place, so we had to replicate every policy," Samant said.

As implementation is recent (November 2009), Samant is not able to specify any concrete benefits. However, he feels he has gained granular control over Web 2.0 traffic. The real time threat protection will also enable FTIL to develop a predictive approach towards security. He also expects to save bandwidth by keeping an eye on illegal traffic.

Samant feels that the heuristic and scanning capacity of the implementation offers a future roadmap for data loss prevention types of technology. The company is interested in adoption of DLP, document rights management and watermarking technologies in the future.

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