Blue Coat tackles IM vulnerabilities

The advent of instant messaging (IM) has prompted new user alerts for enterprises. Blue Coat Systems is, however, introducing its range of ProxySG appliances to accelerate, control and secure both internet and IM access.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  October 30, 2003

ProxySG appliances|~||~||~|The advent of instant messaging (IM) has prompted new user alerts for enterprises. Not only can its use slow network activities and worker productivity, but it can also introduce new vulnerabilities into the workplace. Viruses can potentially be transmitted through the medium, sensitive information can be leaked through the platform and legal issues can be raised through inappropriate behaviour or language sent via IM in the workplace.

Research carried out by Blue Coat Systems supports many of these concerns. 65% of IM users admitted having personal conversations through the system during work hours, while only 11% of respondents are using IM for work purposes. Furthermore, 64% of survey participants use the chatting facility to negatively discuss their employers.

"While instant messaging has proven itself a productive business tool, our research validates that its free flowing and unmonitored nature is creating enormous legal liabilities, compliance and productivity issues for organisations worldwide," says Steve Mullaney, vice president of marketing with Blue Coat Systems. "Organisations must now integrate a policy for controlling and logging IM as part of the overall internet user policy," he continues.

While the definition and implementation of user policies falls to the enterprise, Blue Coat is, however, introducing its range of ProxySG appliances to accelerate, control and secure both internet and IM access. The solutions will leverage on the vendor's experience in caching to ensure network availability remains high, while integrating with the content filtering and virus scanning solutions from other security players.

The ProxySG appliances allow administrators to assume control of IM and internet applications and monitor user behaviour, as well as stipulate which users should have access to the internet or IM systems, at what particular time, for how long and so forth.

"By placing a proxy device next to the firewall, it gives organisations the ability to actually manage and control what is going on in their enterprise, instead of just making a yes or no decision," says Tom Ayers, vice president of global sales, Blue Coat Systems.

"People are using proxies to restrict access to unproductive sites. We can also administer across companies what is called a splash page, so when a user signs on they are reminded about company policies and if an employee forgets and goes on to a restricted site this screen pops up again to remind them," he continues.

Locally, the vendor also believes these solutions will prosper. While Blue Coat reveals that it has already secured deals with many of the region's telcos to improve their bandwidth efficiencies, it believes these products will help drive growth in the enterprise space.

"We have gained entry into the leading ISP marketplace. Qtel, Etisalat and many others have all adopted Blue Coat as their proxy to save bandwidth. But we have solutions that can benefit any company that has increased demand for the internet, and we're sure that the market here is going to expand exponentially," says Ray Kafity, general manager, Blue Coat Systems Middle East.

For Blue Coat, the products and, more importantly, the growth opportunities that they yield also have a greater significance. At a base level they represent the next step in the vendor's transition from being a pure play caching solutions provider. However, they are also driving it to profitability.

"IDC has identified a new market around content management and its recent data suggested Blue Coat was the leader of this new market. We have 33% of the market share at the current time and our closest competitor has less than 10%. Although it is a small market it is a very important leadership and one that we want to capitalise on," says Ayers.

"Our overall revenues are growing as well. Since the company began in 1996 it has never been profitable, but now we are very close to reaching profitability. And that is very important for establishing long term viability... We believe we will be profitable no later than this fiscal year," he adds.||**||

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