Hybrid Approach To Filtering Web Content: Managed Service + Appliance

Managing and securing your corporate network and computers is more than than making sure hackers can’t hack into your network from the outside.
A big part of network security and management is also about monitoring what your employees are doing and ensuring the content they are viewing/downloading and what they are sending out is according to corporate rules and regulations.
Currently, there’s 3 main solutions that businesses have for content filtering: software solutions installed on individual computers or servers; appliances; or managed services (software as a service).
Each of these options has their pros and cons. Towards the end of October, security company St. Bernard, introduced a new solution – a Hybrid Web Filtering Solution.

Over some pizza, Andrew Lochart, vice president of marketing and product management at St. Bernard, explained that previous to this announcement St. Bernard had solutions that offered traditional security appliances to customers or managed services, but not both.
Appliances are good because the customer has direct control of how the appliance is configured and maintained. Since the appliance is not dependent on outside services or software it’s more stable and secure in some ways.
On the other hand, if you want to add capacity to the appliance or increase its performance you’ll have to add more appliances or replace the appliance with a more powerful one.
Managed services are useful because external threats never get to your network – the hosted service stops it. A managed service also puts the burden of managing your network onto your service provider. If you don’t have an IT staff, a managed service is almost a given for you.
The downside of a managed service is that you have less control over its management and configuration.
St. Bernard’s hybrid solution gives you the control and management of an appliance with the scalability of a service, while keeping costs low. Read its white paper about its hybrid security solution here.
St. Bernard competitor Sophos has a managed appliance solution, which gives St. Bernard some direct competition.
According to Sophos demo, Sophos manages the appliance by a) updating it with new content filtering every 5 minutes b) if there’s a problem Sophos will alert the administrator and take corrective action c) Sophos can also offer remote assistance to the administrator.
If you’re looking for a robust solution to protect your network, small businesses only have one choice: outsourcing to an expert. The question for you is which expert and how its implemented.
PC Magazine has a nice story about content filtering here.