FaceTime's Unified Security Gateway 3.0: Regulating Social Media Usage At Work

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FTlogo The ever increasing popularity and usage of social networking sites, blogs, and instant messaging services in the workplace–while beneficial in many cases–is the cause of many security concerns for IT and security specialists. Human mistakes, such as disclosing private information through these portals and accepting malicious content via file transfers, coupled with newly enacted regulatory compliance which force many companies to record all of their electronic transmissions, stress the need for a new solution to combat these challenges. FaceTime’s newest product which is launching today, Unified Security Gateway 3.0, hopes to be this solution.

The product, which I have aptly dubbed “The Regulator,” moves FaceTime from their niche, Instant Messaging Compliance, where they track over 230 Instant Messaging Applications, to the overarching web security domain. Unified Security Gateway 3.0 will still monitor these IM applications, as well as web mail, social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and blogs.

“The need for such a comprehensive product arose from the fact that most IT and Security specialists within companies underestimated the actual usage by their employees of these platforms,” says Nick Sears, Vice President of EMEA. This discrepancy can lead to a false sense of security as companies are made to believe they are more secure from data leaks and inbound threats than they actually are.

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Many other similar products force IT admins to either allow or prohibit employees from accessing a certain portal, such as Twitter. But with USG 3.0, IT admins can allow portals, but then restrict what is seen or posted onto them. For example, a company can allow access to YouTube, and then filter out any search queries which include the words “Jenna Jameson,” or “Pamela Anderson.” Similarly, on Twitter, if someone tries to post harmful information, such as disclosing a coworkers Social Security number, USG 3.0 can be set up to monitor this, and then deny the employee from posting this information. Companies can install FaceTime’s lexicon library or they can install their own customizable one. Thus, companies can still continue to use the social media we so heavily rely on, without sacrificing security.

Another new feature of USG 3.0 lets administrators create policies for its users. These range from corporate wide policies to ones configured for individual personnel or groups. These granular policies can include a time of day restriction, a bandwidth quota, and a usage quota. For instance, an IT admin could limit my time on Facebook to 5 hours of week (or day, year, month), while simultaneously limiting my coworkers use of VoIP to a certain amount. If a certain project requires extra usage, I can request this through a simple process set up by USG 3.0, and the system admin can either approve or deny this request.

Trying to bypass these protections by using Google’s “Incognito mode” or website anonymizers proves futile: USG 3.0 has blocked these as well.

All of these features can be monitored by system admins through USG 3.0′s new dashboard. Instead of limiting system admins to pre-programmed reports and static dashboards, USG 3.0 lets them customize it any way they see fit. They can drill down to individual users, or see an overview of total social media usage.

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FaceTime also integrated an onboard virus checker to this version. This new addition makes them a compliment to proxy providers rather than a competitor as companies do not have to choose between their previous security software and USG 3.0 since they will work seamlessly together.

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FaceTime will see their biggest competition from other web security products such as Websense and McAfee. However, FaceTime is already established in a parallel market and is being used by the top 10 banks in the United States already.

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