Enterprise Security: Tackling the Proxy Menace

by Pankaj Maru    Mar 24, 2008

Internet misuse has been under the scanner recently by company managements and even governments of some countries, who are concerned over access by users and employees of pornographic, political and other unproductive content. Firewalls and other censorship tools have been introduced to tackle these, but Internet users have found their own technological means to overcome such censorship on the Internet.

One such means is the use of proxy sites or servers that are able to bypass restrictions or firewalls meant to block access to certain web portals and content. With these proxy sites people have found an easy way to over come any kind of blocking or restriction of web portals and as a result, today proxy sites have become highly popular among users across the world.

Basically, anonymous proxies are websites that not only allow the user to access blocked or restricted portals but also facilitate anonymity by allowing them to conceal their identity and make them untraceable on the internet.

Explaining the concept of proxy sites Anju Thapa, operation head (India) of Buffalo, says, “Proxy sites enable you to bypass your own Internet provider and browse through the proxy web site, which causes the security breach at your server. People use proxy servers to by-pass the security filter which causes diffidence to your system.”

“Proxy servers can only be useful for handling time -consuming operations and the time management can always be done without risking your security parameters,” Thapa added.

Recently, China banned some blog sites, which had posted messages against the political status of the country. Pakistan too banned access to YouTube — the video portal-for some time, keeping in view the political instability after the death of its national leader in a bomb blast. While political censorship is a contentious issue, installing controls on Internet usage at the workplace does have strong justification.

Among the major proxy site users, there’s a large section of employees from IT enterprises and organizations, who use these anonymous site for their personal motives.

Although they are barred from accessing social networking sites, surfing job portals, checking personal emails and using instant messengers at the workplace, they often are found guilty of using anonymous proxies for accessing these.

The result of such illegal bypassing of security norms by employees is not only productivity losses but also the exposing of the local networks and connected systems to high security threats such as malware, ad-ware, spy-ware, viruses, spam mails, hackers, and suspicious web sites.

This makes a complete mockery of the fact that enterprises spend large sums of money on security solutions and devices. Employees are found breaching the security shields easily with proxy sites for personal purpose and putting the entire organization’s network security at risk.

However, some organizations such as Aladdin Knowledge Systems have addressed this menace of anonymous proxies at large. The company has a comprehensive security product for enterprises — eSafe Secure Web Gateway, which is able to restrict access to proxy sites and claims to block 100% anonymous proxies.

It works on anti - anonymizer technology and proxy filters. “The technology has 3 layers - URL Filtering, AppliFilter and SSL Filter. URL Filtering works on traditional and non-traditional method, which keeps a check on all categorized as well as uncategorized URLs that are around 60 million sites,” says Shailendra Sahasrabudhe, country manager (India) of Aladdin Knowledge Systems.

In Thailand, Aladdin has deployed its security products at iSSP — a local internet provider that offers gateway security as an add-on service. This offers cover against cyber threats such as anonymizer proxies, mal-wares and viruses at the user end.

Similarly, Sify Technologies has an additional security for its users that is available on-demand. “We do have high security at gateway level, which is constantly being monitored and managed by security devices. In addition, we do offer an additional security as per user needs that also deals with proxy sites,” informed Shyam Nair, manager (Corporate Affairs) of Sify Technologies.

Organizations can augment their security layer at the gateway level by subscribing to this security service from their ISPs that will help to curb down the illegal use of proxies.

Related Link:

New Solution for Blocking Proxy Sites