Web security buyers' guide



Web interactivity increasingly relies on user- and third-party-generated content built on rich backend database systems, which are easily exploited. This has created a breeding ground for the distribution of malware-even among the most trusted and popular web sites and applications. This dramatic change in the nature of web threats has rendered traditional web filtering technology completely ineffective. Simply blocking access to sites that may host malware is no longer a viable solution - as that would now include each and every site on the net.With the web now a mission-critical tool in most organizations day-to-day activities, it's critical to equip yourself with a security solution that enables the users to be productive, while also providing the security essential to ensure a risk-free experience.Organizations looking for protection against modern web threats need a solution that demonstrates security attributes that combines powerful application, site and content controls with proactive malware detection. In today's economy, best-of-breed security must also embrace low-impact, effective administration enabling organizations to do more with less. At the same time, the solution must meet end-user expectations and requirements for speed, efficiency, and open access to the tools and sites they need. Solutions which fail to meet these demands for security, control, performance, value and accessibility will ultimately fail the organization.

Introduction
The web is now the number one vector of attack for cybercriminals, with a newly infected web site discovered every few seconds. Hijacked trusted sites, poisoned search results, fake AV, and phishing sites are all finding their way into our browsers at an alarming rate. As a result, Internet access creates a dilemma for you: on the one hand, the risks presented by allowing unfettered access to the web are enormous, yet the Internet is undeniably becoming a mission-critical business tool. Social networking sites, blogs, forums and media portals have all become important instruments for employee recruitment, viral marketing, public relations, customer interaction, and research. They cannot be blocked without seriously impacting business productivity and effectiveness.A new approach to web security and control is required that fully supports the needs of businesses, equipping users with the tools they need to be more effective while eliminating the associated risks of potential infection from trusted legitimate sites. In addition to good preventive practices, such as rigorous patching and educating users about the risks of browsing, it is vital that organizations implement a comprehensive web security and control solution.


Web Security and Control Overview
Application Control
Web application control is not just about productivity - it's an important foundational layer to an effective web protection strategy.
Most web malware utilizes commercially available exploit packs that contain dozens of different vulnerability testers, redirectors, and actual exploit code that attempt to test for and exploit a myriad of vulnerabilities that exist in applications on the user's system. These kits are designed specifically to prey on users who aren't diligent in keeping their software and operating system patches up to date. It's therefore critical to not only keep your applications patched and up-to-date, but also minimize and limit the number of web applications in your environment to an absolute lowest common denominator standard set of business related programs and tools.
Unfortunately, traditional application controls at the gateway rely on port or packet inspection to identify and control instant messaging, peer-to-peer and other non-browser web applications. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't prevent these applications from being installed and ultimately exploited. This is where a security suite that integrates both endpoint and web protection together can offer enormous benefits, by controlling unwanted applications on the desktop, before they can become exploited and infected.


Security and Control Components:
  • Application control
  • Productivity and reputation filtering
  • Proxy filtering
  • Real-time malware filtering
  • HTTPS filtering
  • Content-based filtering
  • Data loss prevention
In addition to best-of-breed security, the solution must also fit seamlessly into your organization.
Deployment, Management, and Vendor Capabilities:
  • Low-impact end-user experience
  • Flexible easy deployment
  • Minimal administrative burden
  • Intuitive management console
  • Rich dashboard and reporting
  • World-class vendor services and support
Finally, the solution must be affordable, providing maximum value for your investment.
The rest of this document is dedicated to articulating the key components of an effective web security and control solution.


URL and reputation filtering
Traditional URL filters rely on vast, regularly updated databases of sites classified into different categories for the purposes of controlling productivity and enforcing acceptable use policy. URL filtering was once considered an acceptable web security solution, but the presence of web malware has shifted dramatically from dodgy porn and gambling sites to much more popular mainstream websites across all categories. So while URL filtering plays an important role in optimizing network performance and staff productivity by blocking access to illegal, inappropriate, or non-business-critical web content, it is not an effective security solution against modern threats to hijacked trusted sites. Reputation-based filters are designed to augment URL filtering and act as the first critical component in the fight against modern web-based threats. They prevent access to a continuously growing catalog of sites across all categories that are known to be currently infected or have hosted malware or other unwanted content in the past, by filtering URLs based on their reputation as "good" or "bad." Reputation filtering is now considered a proven and essential tool for successfully protecting against already known web-based threats across all site categories.

Proxy filtering
Anonymizing proxies are specially designed sites that enable users to browse blocked sites anonymously and free of company web security filtering. Obviously, these kinds of sites can completely undermine an effective web security and control solution, exposing users and the organization to significant security risks, legal liability issues, and productivity losses. To prevent users from bypassing filtering controls, the following two components are critical in forming a defence against anonymizing proxy use:

  • A reputation-based service that actively seeks out new anonymizing proxies from a variety of underground sources as they are published and updates the filtering database at frequent, regular intervals.
  • A real-time proxy detection engine that automatically inspects traffic for signs that it's being routed through a proxy, effectively closing the door on private home-based proxies or other proxies not identified through the reputation service.

Real-time malware filtering

Real-time predictive malware filtering goes a long way toward closing the gap left by reputation-based filters. With this kind of filter, all web traffic passes through a scanner designed to identify both known and newly emerging zero-day malware. The malware engine is optimized for low-latency scanning. Whenever a user accesses a website, regardless of its reputation or category, the traffic is scanned using a combination of signatures and behavior-based technologies.It is worth noting that this type of real-time scanning has a further advantage over traditional URL filters: the filtering is, almost by definition, bi‑-directional - both the user request to and the information returning from the web server are scanned. In addition to detecting known malware as it moves across legitimate sites, this bi-directional filtering can also provide protection against new threats regardless of where they are hosted.


A real-time malware scanning engine is not only the most critical component of an effective web security solution, it is a key point of differentiation among vendors. As a result, buyers should pay particular attention to the capabilities of their web security solution short list, and focus on some key considerations related to malware scanning capabilities:
  • Real-time: looks at content as it's accessed or downloaded
  • Behavioral: goes beyond signatures to analyze code for malicious intent before it executes
  • Script emulation: will decode and emulate obfuscated JavaScript before passing it to the browser
  • Bi-directional: inspecting both outbound requests and incoming content
  • Multi-vector: provides integrated malware detection across several vectors including the gateway, the browser, and the desktop
  • Low latency: can scale and handle peak loads efficiently to ensure a seamless user experience
  • Update frequency: signature and threat identity information should be provided at intervals measured in minutes, not hours or days
HTTPS filtering
With up to 40% of web applications and protected web sites now relying on port 443 Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), this is an increasingly popular vector for malware distribution and therefore a critical component of an effective web security solution. Since SSL content is encrypted, it can't be intercepted by most traditional web security solutions, which leaves IT completely blind to this traffic. It's no surprise that most proxy sites, phish­ing attacks, fake AV sites, and other malware attacks increasingly utilize this highly vulnerable point of entry. This major blind spot in security can also be a significant liability for data leakage, unwanted downloads via web­mail solutions like Gmail, and bandwidth consumption.


HTTPS traffic inspection that enables a balance of user privacy with organizational security is critical to an effective web security and control solution. What's essential is a flexible solution that provides certificate validation with legitimate sites like financial institutions, while fully proxying and scanning other HTTPS sessions for signs of malware, unwanted content, phishing attacks, malware calling home, and proxy use.
Content-based filtering
Content-based filtering analyzes all web traffic on the network to determine the true file type of content coming back from a website. It can then allow or disallow this traffic, based on corporate policy.
Content filters scan the actual content of a file, rather than simply looking at the file extension or the MIME type reported by the web server, and so can identify and block files that are masquerading as innocent or allowed file types but really contain unauthorized content. A file might, for example, have a .TXT extension but in fact be an executable file.
By enabling enforcement of only business-type content, this pillar of protection enables organizations to create policies around a variety of content types that are often used to send malware, thereby dramatically reducing the risks of infection. For example, incoming Windows executables or screensavers might be disallowed. Content-based filtering can also be used to improve bandwidth optimization by blocking large or resource-hungry content, such as streaming video.


Data loss prevention
Data loss prevention is an increasingly important element of an effective web security solution in the Web 2.0 world. With strict privacy and data confidentiality regulations and requirements becoming common in most jurisdictions, it's becoming critical to enforce a comprehensive data protection strategy that governs mobile computers, removable media, devices such as USB sticks, traditional email, and of course Web 2.0 applications.For a DLP engine to be effective, it must be able to scan and recognize sensitive data types such as credit card numbers, personally identifiable information, bank account information, social insurance numbers, and more. Predefined content control lists (CCL's) that cover hundreds of different sensitive data types across multiple localized geographies are critical to making DLP manageable and effective.Furthermore, the most effective DLP will be that which can cover all potential exit points including removable media, devices, email, web and social media applications and stop sensitive data from being exposed at the source - right on the user's desktop. It should also integrate tightly with encryption solutions to facilitate the movement of sensitive data that does need to leave the organization.

Key Buying Criteria

The following table fully articulates the key buying criteria you should consider when evaluating a potential web security and control solution. Use this as a guide for your online research, vendor discussions, or RFP. Be sure you are getting the most value for your investment in web security and control by ensuring your vendor is providing you with a complete solution that is simple to deploy and administer, from a trusted source that provides the service and support you require.

Web application control:
Control and limit the number of web applications in the environment
to reduce the threat surface area from exploits

What to look for: Look for an application control solution that runs on the endpoint and can block unwanted applications at the source - on the desktop. Solutions that simply inspect ports or packets at the gateway are ineffective at controlling the risk of being exploited - stop these apps from running in the first place. Also look for a solution which can identify applications based on identity signatures rather than relying on common path and file names to avoid masquerading apps from side-stepping controls. Also ensure the solution enables easy control over categories of applications with granular control as needed and provides regular updates to the app control lists on a regular basis to make administration easy.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your app control block applications from running on the desktop?
  • Does your app control rely on signatures or file and path names?
  • How many application identities does your solution include?
  • How often is the database of apps updated?
  • Do you support flexible, easy to use policies with app categories?


URL filtering database:
Categorization of websites with block/allow policy options

What to look for:
While URL classification databases are largely a commodity, select one that has categories that make sense for your organization. More categories are not always better as it may create added complexity for your policy management. Ensure multiple languages are provided and the URL database is significant in scope and updated regularly. Also ensure that policy controls are simple, wizard driven, and enable policies set by user, group, time, site, or category with flexibility to easily create custom policies.
Specific questions to ask:
  • How many languages does your database cover?
  • How often is the database updated?
  • Who updates the database and what resources do they have/use?
  • Are your policy settings wizard driven? Do you support custom policies with site tags and special hours?


Reputation database:
Augments URL filtering with reputation and risk classification
to ensure risky sites in any category are scanned or blocked

What to look for:
 A reputation database that is maintained by a top-tier security company that invests heavily in web malware research and provides frequent updates. Also, look for a solution that protects both networked corporate users as well as mobile or remote users who may not be operating on the corporate network.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your reputation database protect mobile and remote users outside the office?
  • Do you track site reputation across categories?
  • How does your solution deal with risky sites within allowed categories?
  • How often is the database updated?
  • Who updates the database and what resources do they have/use?


Anonymizing proxy detection:
Blocks users from using proxies to bypass web filtering

What to look for:
A combination of real-time proxy detection to identify new or obscure proxies, coupled with a comprehensive proxy discovery service to ensure policy compliance. Inquire about what sources your web security vendor uses to catalog anonymizing proxies, how many they catalog every day, and how often they provide updates. Avoid any solution which cannot detect anonymizing proxy use in real-time as users initiate a connection through one, as there are plenty of obscure or home-based proxies that any reputation service will never find.
Specific questions to ask:
  • How often do you update your catalog of anonymizing proxies?
  • How many new anonymizing proxies do you detect daily?
  • How does your solution handle obscure or private/home-based proxies?
  • Who updates the proxy catalog and what resources do they have/use?


Real-time malware scanning:
Scans all inbound and outbound web traffic in real-time

What to look for:
 Not all web malware scanning is created equal. Avoid signature-based scanning engines and select an engine that utilizes behavioral pre-execution analysis to determine code intent which will provide zero-day protection from new malware. Furthermore, inquire about obfuscated javascript. If the anti-malware engine cannot deobfuscate and emulate javascript in real-time to analyze its behavior before passing it to the browser, look for a solution that does for the best protection from server side polymorphing malware. Since malware scanning is particularly important, here's an additional checklist of important criteria:
  • Real-time: looks at content as it's accessed or downloaded
  • Behavioral: goes beyond signatures to analyze code for malicious intent before it executes
  • Script emulation: will decode and emulate obfuscated javascript before passing it to the browser
  • Multi-vector: provides integrated malware detection across several vectors including the gateway, the browser, and the desktop
  • Bi-directional: inspecting both outbound requests (for signs of malware on your network calling home) and incoming content
  • Low latency: can scale and handle peak loads efficiently to ensure a seamless user experience
  • Update frequency: signature and threat identity information should be provided at intervals measured in minutes, not hours or days.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your reputation database protect mobile and remote users outside the office?
  • Do you track site reputation across categories?
  • How does your solution deal with risky sites within allowed categories?
  • How often is the database updated?
  • Who updates the database and what resources do they have/use?


Call-home detection:
The ability to physically intercept and analyze outbound traffic through the gateway to identify infected systems or sensitive data leaving the organization

What to look for:
A system that intercepts and scans outbound requests as well as incoming web traffic. If your desired solution cannot scan outbound web requests, there's no way to prevent infected machines on your network from sending sensitive data or even identifying what machines on your network might be infected.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your system scan and analyze outbound requests and web traffic?
  • How does it identify machines that are potentially infected and calling home?


HTTPS scanning and certificate validation:
The ability to proxy and scan all web traffic including HTTPS encrypted channels often used by webmail, anonymizing proxies, etc., which are increasingly being targeted by malware

What to look for:
 A solution that can not only proxy and scan HTTPS encrypted connections, but one that can balance the need for end-user privacy with bank and financial institution exceptions. Also look for certificate validation to avoid phishing attacks that spoof certificates to fool users into believing they are secure.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your solution enable the proxy and scanning of HTTPS encrypted traffic?
  • Does it have the capability to exclude financial institutions?
  • Does it perform certificate validation?


True file type control:
Examines all file downloads to determine their true type to dramatically reduce the threat surface area from undesired
file types

What to look for:
 A solution that simply looks at file extensions or MIME types is inadequate. Only consider a solution that does true file type detection by inspecting the file header information. This is the only way to prevent content masquerading to reduce your threat surface area and keep undesirable or illegal content off your network.
Specific questions to ask:
  • How many file types does your solution identify and control?
  • What technique does it use to identify files (extensions or header analysis)?



Data loss prevention:
Examines content for sensitive data to prevent it leaving the organization through unauthorized means

What to look for:
A DLP solution should cover all vectors of potential data loss including removable media, devices such as USB sticks, traditional email, and Web 2.0 applications. Ideally the solution should block sensitive data leaks at the source - on the user's desktop. It must include a predefined list of sensitive data type definitions and must be updated on a regular basis as new sensitive data types are defined.
Specific questions to ask:
  • What is the scope of coverage of your DLP solution?
  • Where does it run and block sensitive data at?
  • How many sensitive data type definitions are included?
  • Can the sensitive data types be easily extended or customized?
  • How often are the sensitive data types updated?
  • Does the DLP solution integrate with encryption options for data that does need to leave?


Scalable:
A solution that scales with your growing business, from small companies to large, geographically distributed enterprises


What to look for:
A range of different hardware appliance models at price points attractive to organizations of all sizes that enables you to easily upgrade as your business grows. In particular, look for a solution that offers simple centralized management of multiple appliances in either a single site for performance and redundancy or across multiple sites for geographically distributed organizations.
Specific questions to ask:
  • What range of models do you offer?
  • Do you offer an affordable solution for small businesses or small
  • branch-office locations?
  • Do you offer centralized management for consistent and easy policy settings across a large number of appliances?


Flexible deployment modes:
Different deployment options that enable the solution to fit with your IT and business objectives providing the ideal balance between security and ease-of-deployment and management


What to look for:
The ideal solution will support a range of options including explicit proxy mode, transparent mode operation, and support for Cisco's WCCP protocol. Avoid solutions that rely strictly on port-spanning operation.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your solution support explicit proxy mode?
  • Does your solution support Cisco's WCCP protocol?
  • Does your solution support transparent mode with directory service integration?
  • How long does it take to deploy and configure your solution?


Flexible deployment modes:
Different deployment options that enable the solution to fit with your IT and business objectives providing the ideal balance between security and ease-of-deployment and management


What to look for:
The ideal solution will support a range of options including explicit proxy mode, transparent mode operation, and support for Cisco's WCCP protocol. Avoid solutions that rely strictly on port-spanning operation.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your solution support explicit proxy mode?
  • Does your solution support Cisco's WCCP protocol?
  • Does your solution support transparent mode with directory service integration?
  • How long does it take to deploy and configure your solution?


Directory services integration:
The ability to integrate with your Microsoft Active Directory or Novell eDirectory services to identify and authenticate users automatically


What to look for:
Support for both Microsoft and Novell directory services with easy setup and integration for user-based policy settings and reporting.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your solution support Microsoft Active Directory integration?
  • Does your solution support Novell eDirectory integration?


Easy to manage:
A solution that is immediately intuitive
and doesn't consume a lot of your time and effort to set up and administer on a daily basis

What to look for:
If you can't get the system deployed in just a few minutes without a lot of documentation or several calls to your vendor's support line, then you have the wrong product. Select a solution with task-based, wizard-driven setup, policy administration, and reporting. Avoid any solution that's not immediately clear and intuitive.
Specific questions to ask:
  • What's required to set up and configure the system?
  • How intuitive is the management console?
  • Does the setup and configuration use wizards, or lots of screens with fields that are poorly labeled?
  • Does the solution provide thorough online help?
  • How many steps does it take to set up a typical policy?


Monitoring and alerting:
The health of the appliance or solution is monitored remotely and alerts are provided in the event of any malfunction

What to look for:
A solution that is remotely monitored for you by your vendor that will alert you immediately if anything is wrong.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Do you monitor the health of your solution for each customer?
  • If so, do you provide alerts and remote remediation?


Dashboard and reporting:
The ability to monitor your user, web traffic, and threat activity at a glance from a real-time dashboard,
and drill down into rich and sophisticated reporting for forensics and compliance insight

What to look for:
A solution that has an aggregate dashboard that can span multiple separate appliances and present real-time status on user activity, throughput, latency, threats, and other important Internet traffic metrics. It's more important that the reporting system provide the information you need in a simple convenient manner than try to wow you with the sheer number of different reporting options. Reporting should be simple and provide drill-down capabilities, with a variety of important user, traffic, and activity reports to satisfy all stakeholders in your organization. Look for solutions that can provide both ad-hoc up to the minute reports while also supporting a variety of parameters and export options including PDF output. In addition, regular scheduled reporting is essential to save you time and effort satisfying the needs of various stakeholders in the organization... Beware: once you have rich Internet activity reporting at your fingertips, everyone will want it.
Specific questions to ask:
  • Does your solution offer centralized reporting across multiple appliances
  • and locations?
  • Does your solution offer an aggregate real-time dashboard across multiple appliances and locations?
  • Does your solution offer up-to-the-minute ad-hoc reporting?
  • Does you
  • r solution offer PDF output for easy sharing of reports?
  • Does your solution offer regularly scheduled reports that are automatically emailed to stakeholders and easy to set up with a simple wizard?
  • Does your solution offer reports for network traffic, user activity, policy warnings and violations, top offenders and more?
  • What is the length of data retention for reporting?


Frequent updates:
Frequent updates to malware identities, risky or malware-infested sites, and anonymizing proxies

What to look for:
Ideally your solution should update as frequent as every few minutes as needed. Avoid solutions whose update frequency is measured in hours. By the time you get an update, it's likely too late.
Specific questions to ask:
  • How often do you provide threat updates?
  • Who maintains the updates and what resources do they have/use?


Easy upgrades:
Updates to product software are easy to deploy

What to look for:
Ideally your product should update automatically without any intervention and at no extra cost for minor or major version releases.
Specific questions to ask:
  • What's required to install a software update to the system?
  • How much do updates and upgrades cost?


Service and Support:
The support experience

What to look for:
A company that treats you like a partner in protecting your organization, and that offers 24/7/365 support at no additional cost with immediate access to local front-line engineers who can actually help in your language. Also look for a solution that offers an advance replacement warranty on all hardware. Avoid vendors whose support is all overseas or who deal with both enterprise and consumer customers.
Specific questions to ask:
  • What support is included at no extra charge?
  • When I call support, who am I talking to and where are they?
  • Does your company support both corporate and consumer solutions?
  • What premium support options do I have?


Security labs:
The team responsible for threat analysis and security updates

What to look for:
Look for a solution backed by a top-tier global round-the-clock security labs operation that deals with blended email, web, and endpoint threats.
Specific questions to ask:
  • How many people work in your labs operations?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do team members specialize in certain threats or are the labs's research fully blended across spam, web infections, and viruses?
  • What level of automation and other resources do they utilize to keep ahead of the threats?


Buying Guide Checklist


Criteria
Sophos
Other
Security and Control





Web Application Control


  • Desktop control over applications
-
  • Uses Application Identities
-
  • Granular policy control
-
  • Frequent identity updates
-



URL Filtering


  • Multiple language support
-
  • Frequent updates (minutes)
-
  • Wizard Driven Policy
-



Reputation Filtering


  • Provided by top-tier vendor
-
  • Mobile/remote user protection
-
  • Frequent updates
-



Proxy Filtering


  • Real-time proxy detection
-
  • Proxy discovery service
-
  • Hundreds of new proxies added daily
-



Real-time Malware Scanning


  • Real-time
-
  • Behavioral
-
  • Script emulation
-
  • Multi-vector
-
  • Bi-directional
-
  • Low latency
-
  • Frequent updates
-



Call-home detection


  • Scan outbound requests
-



HTTPS Scanning


  • Proxy encrypted traffic
-
  • Financial site exclusions
-
  • Certificate validation
-



Content Filtering


  • Uses true-file-type identities
-
  • Granular policy control
-



Data Loss Prevention


  • Works at the desktop
-
  • Covers media, devices, web, email
-
  • Includes pre-packaged data definitions
-
  • Localized across multiple geographies
-
  • Easily customized data definitions
-
  • Frequent updates
-
  • Integrates with encryption
-



Deployment, management and vendor capabilities





Scalable


  • Multiple appliance models
-
  • Small, affordable branch office appliances
-
  • Centralized management/reporting
-



Deployment modes


  • Explicit proxy mode
-
  • WCCP mode
-
  • Transparent mode
-



Directory services integration


  • Microsoft ActiveDirectory
-
  • Novell eDirectory
-



Management Console


  • Up and running in less than 10 minutes
-
  • Intuitive user interface
-
  • Wizards for common tasks
-
  • Online help
-
  • Quick easy policy setup
-



Monitoring and Alerting


  • Remotely monitored by vendor
-
  • Alerting for trouble conditions
-
  • Remote remediation
-



Dashboard and Reporting


  • Scan outbound requests
-
  • Aggregate dashboard
-
  • Real-time dashboard
-
  • Drill-down dashboard and reporting
-
  • Well organized reports by stakeholder
-
  • Up to the minute ad-hoc reporting
-
  • Automated scheduled reporting
-
  • PDF output option
-
  • Multi-year data retention
-



Updates and upgrades


  • Frequent threat updates
5 minutes

  • Updates and upgrades are automatic
-
  • Free upgrades
-



Service and support


  • Included 24x7x365 support
-
  • Direct access to engineers
-
  • Local language support
-
  • Replacement warranty on hardware
-



Security labs


  • Global labs operation
-
  • Hundreds of analysts
-
  • Innovative automation
-
  • Blended virus, spam, and web threats
-

Source : http://web.sophos.com/sph/enterEmailAddress.jssp?PivotalWebId=sophos-web-security-buyers-guide-wpna&FormName=White_Paper〈=en&Resource=sophos-web-security-buyers-guide-wpna&returnUrl=/security/whitepapers/sophos-web-security-buyers-guide-wpna?action=lead_collected

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