Whisper tweet nothings

The combination of evasive consumer applications and enterprise-class UC platforms is leading to an increasingly heterogeneous and complex environment that multiplies the security, management and compliance challenges faced by IT today. FaceTime helps businesses realise the benefits of Unified Communications by delivering security, management and compliance across the broadest set of platformsThe rise of social networks and micro blogging sites such as Twitter has changed the communications landscape beyond recognition, but with it has come not just an increase in malware, but the spectre of data leakage. Whether accidental, for financial gain or just a disgruntled employee, Web 2.0 applications now make it incredibly easy for information to leave organisations faster, and unseen by traditional security measures, than ever before.
Connectivity & collaboration
Today’s internet is dominated by connectivity and collaboration. Alongside enterprise tools such as Microsoft Office Communications Server and IBM Lotus Sametime most users rely on a range of publicly available networks, sites and applications everyday. Even the local MP is on Twitter. However, more than 50 per cent of these applications are evasive. They port hop, they tunnel through open ports – even HTTP, and they circumvent traditional security tools, such as standalone URL filters, providing the perfect opportunity for malware and spyware to enter the network, and for information to leak out.
An example of the way these applications manage to infiltrate even the most secure network was shown recently in an evaluation of FaceTime’s Unified Security Gateway by a large UK county council. Reports received after a two week evaluation showed unauthorised use of P2P file sharing and Skype, but more tellingly, thousands of hours spent on social networks – which were disallowed by policy, but where this policy was not enforced by technology. This local government network was protected by a major firewall vendor, an intrusion detection system, two leading web security products and anti-malware and anti-virus protection on the desktop.
Despite claims to the contrary, there are few solutions that can provide comprehensive visibility over Web 2.0 and its applications, most simply cover the top 200. At the last count FaceTime covers over 3600 – and that doesn’t include the 44,000 applications that FaceTime controls on Facebook.
For many organisations, the benefits of allowing access to Web 2.0 applications often outweighs the risks or they do not consider themselves to be targets, that is of course until they are hit by an IM Worm that takes out hundreds of computers, as happened to one major UK charity or until they discover the volume of social networking use in the organisation.
Until now, organisations have simply controlled and logged real-time communication applications such as instant messaging, where the native application resides on the desktop. Only now, with the massive growth of web based IM, webmail, blogs and social networks, has it been deemed necessary to control other content posted to the web from the organisation’s equipment. Whether this is to social networks, Twitter, blogs or sent via web, mail is no longer simply down to whether the user can access the appropriate site though simple URL Filtering.
The power of collaboration
Now organisations can take full advantage of the power of the collaborative internet, without neglecting their duty to comply with regulatory legislation and good practice. The latest version of FaceTime’s Unified Security Gateway (USG) solves this issue by enabling content that is posted from within the organisation to a social networking site or blog for example to be monitored, secured and recorded – reducing outbound data leakage and enabling compliance with regulation and legal discovery requirements.
For organisations that have a presence on sites such as FaceBook or Twitter, which offer no logging systems themselves – nor guarantees that information posted today will be available tomorrow, this latest update will relieve a lot of pressure. It also means that organisations can consider opening up usage of personal email accounts such as hotmail or gmail, without putting themselves at risk, because these can be content controlled and logged too. With granular control, access to potential “time-wasting” applications can be limited to so much time per day, only during lunch hours or even by bandwidth utilisation.
Broader view
Rather than address the malware security problem with the traditional ‘point solution’ approach, FaceTime takes a broader view. Spyware and malware exhibit many of the same traits as legitimate Web applications evasive network behaviour and stealthy end-user deployment. For this reason malware, unlike viruses or worms, can be delivered by a plurality of vectors, and so poses a different prevention challenge, which is why FaceTime takes a multi-layered approach.
Data leakage through Web 2.0 applications will never be completely solved, as Lionhead Studios found when TV and radio presenter Jonathon Ross revealed on Twitter that he had been asked to do a voice part in the yet unannounced sequel of Fable, a hugely popular video game. However, with the right tools in place, an organisation can at least be confident that a leak didn’t come directly from their network.
FaceTime Communications can be found at stand 322 at IPexpo, Earls Court. Demonstrations of USG’s capabilities are available along with sample report of information that can be gained from a free evaluation.

For more information
Tel: +44 (0)1189 637 469
Fax: +44 (0)1189 637 532
E-mail: EMEA@facetime.com
Web: www.facetime.com