GFI WebMonitor Internet and Web Security Review

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Dan Dieterle

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Looking for a program that monitors your user’s internet use, allows you granular control over what sites and services they can access and when?

Coupled with comprehensive web security and threat detection that includes scanning with not one, not two, but three Anti-Virus engines?

Look no further than GFI’s WebMonitor. (click image to enlarge)

The wonderful folks at GFI recently provided me with a license key and asked if I would check out their software. Their timing was exceptional. I have been looking for a web monitoring solution for small to medium businesses. One that is feature packed, but easy to use. I fell in love with WebMonitor.

Here are some of the top features:

SITE BLACK LISTING

Simply select the website, IP address or user that you want to block access to and click add. Next, save settings and instantly the site that you do not want access to will be blocked (click image to enlarge):

Anyone trying to surf to a blacklisted page from your network will receive this error in their browser (click image to enlarge):

What is nice about WebMonitor is it also scans all downloads and looks for malicious pages as your user searches the web. If users try to search to a page that is suspicious, Webmonitor blocks it and the user will see this message (click image to enlarge):

WEBSITE RESTRICTIONS BY CONTENT TYPE

Want to block a user from certain websites by topic? Simply select the category from the list and select “Block” (click image to enlarge):

How about Streaming Media sites? (click image to enlarge)

Just select “Block” on any of the sites or media types that you want to block and streaming video will be blocked.

In the screenshot above we see that “Generic Site Streams” are blocked. So what will happen if someone tries to run YouTube videos? (click image to enlarge)

“An error has occurred. Please Try again later”. We could have just added YouTube to the black list and we would not have even been able to surf to the website. But this setting blocks streaming videos from all the websites. Nice!

BLOCKING BY POLICY

In almost every section of WebMonitor, internet blocking or restriction can be configured by user, by date or even by time. And again GFI’s easy to use interface really shines.

Here we see the policy enforcement calendar for streaming media, with just two mouse clicks I disabled the policy for the weekend network users (click image to enlarge):

SECURITY AND SAFETY

WebMonitor protects against malware masking itself in HTTPS traffic, and has the ability to block attempts to circumvent web filtering. Also, downloads are scanned by three anti-virus engines:  BitDefender, Kaspersky and Norman.

Why?

Because not every anti-virus will detect every single threat. Using several anti-virus engines increases the chances that malicious files will be detected. I have tested BitDefender heavily and it is VERY good at detecting and blocking encoded, obfuscated backdoor programs like the ones used in targeted phishing attacks.

And again the WebMonitor GUI makes it very easy to change AV settings if you don’t like the default values (click image to enlarge):

This is just a brief overview of some of the multiple capabilities of this feature rich program. I really didn’t touch on the monitoring side to much, but you can monitor all internet use and view it by user or computer.

Actually the GFI documentation recommends just letting WebMonitor collect statistics for the first week so you can see where your employees are visiting and how much time they are spending online.

Then you can go in and block or restrict usage as necessary.

GFI WebMonitor is a very powerful tool that is easily configured through an intuitive graphical interface. The only negative I encountered was that it does seem to draw a lot of resources. I ran it on my main desktop and it noticeably affected both boot time and surfing.

But as this is a full time monitoring and security system, you probably want to install it on a separate system or on one that is not used heavily for other functions.

GFI WebMonitor is the most mature and feature rich monitoring/web security program I have seen to date. I was very impressed with this product and highly recommend it.

Want to try it out yourself? WebMonitor is available for a 30 day free trial!

Cross-posted form Cyber Arms

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