The Reality of Enterprise Web Access Today

Web access by employees from their company’s network is table stakes for just about every type of business. Regardless if the employee is local or remote, or if they are accessing the web from a company-owned or personal laptop, tablet or smart phone, it’s nearly ubiquitous, a mission-critical requirement. Just looking at the average number of web- and cloud-based applications in use within enterprises today – which for many companies is in the thousands – dictates employees need corporate web access just to do their everyday jobs and be productive. This is not even taking into consideration millennials, who oftentimes won’t even consider a job opportunity if there are restrictions on using their personal devices or attempts to limit their web access!

So, open web access to employees, right?

Well, not so fast: With full and unrestricted employee access to the web come serious issues. Recent industry reports claim employees today are surfing non-work related web sites between 60 and 80 percent of the time spent online at work1, with social media and news web sites as their favorite productivity killers.  So, compliance with corporate Web use policies – not to mention industry and/or government regulations – is an issue; as is saving precious network bandwidth for work-related needs. While no company wants to feel like a scold or be mistrustful of their employees, the truth is enterprises need to insure that staff isn’t wasting too much time and network bandwidth downloading the latest viral video, playing online multi-player games, or watching the latest sports action streaming in real time. And along with productivity issues, unfortunately there are also significant security issues, too: watering hole attacks, drive-by downloads, and targeted spear phishing attacks, just to name a few.

Today’s savvy enterprise realizes they need better controls and management for web access – for both employee and guest access.

Context-aware web access policies can secure a business, its applications, and sensitive data from potentially dangerous websites and malware-infected web applications. It can also identify and protect against new, fast emerging, sophisticated web threats, malware, and advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Controlling access and protecting against malware attacks and other threats is one thing. The ability to analyze, and then filter and remove malicious components embedded inside dynamic web pages is another. URL filtering and prescriptive URL categorization can deliver compliance with corporate, as well as industry and government regulations. URL filtering and categorization help mitigate exposure to Web-based threats and data leakage, and increase employee productivity and protect network bandwidth. Detecting and blocking web-borne malware and malicious scripts in web pages protects enterprise networks, applications, and data from gnarly malware infections and infestations, and insidious, rogue apps and data.   F5’s Secure Web Gateway along with our suite of inbound security features running on F5 platforms and context- and content-aware policies with our Access Policy Manager (APM), enables all of these capabilities, and more.

Protecting against both inbound and outbound malware is paramount for today’s business. Checking user devices and its applications for malware that might infect a corporate Web app, then checking their device, apps, data and any downloads again on the return trip to the corporate network to ensure that the web sites visited didn’t leave a little “something-something” behind to remember them by is vital. Plus, employers need to know who – as in which user – has been accessing the Web, and where they have gone on the Web, to address any issues, and to – if necessary – limit user access based on identity and other factors.

Most of all, business today needs an easy, centralized, “one-stop shop” to create simple yet sophisticated, content-aware and context-sensitive web security policies.
F5 Secure Web Gateway – with BIG-IP Access Policy Manager – delivers this, and more.


1 Study: Workers Spend 60% or More of Day Web Surfing for Personal Reasons”, Daily Tech, February 7, 2013

Published Feb 26, 2014
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