SurfControl has long been a name in internet security, with its CyberPatrol product one of the best known applications for home use, and its Web Filter application is an excellent business tool for micro-managing users' access to the internet.
SurfControl Web Filter is designed to allow different users or groups different degrees of access to the internet. At the most basic level, there is a list of URLs, updated daily, which no user can access. This is completely customizable, but the supplied list, with 40 categories, should be sufficient for most companies.
Rather than waving a big stick at anyone who dares to surf outside permitted sites, SurfControl Web Filter allows you to decide the severity of the warning you show users when they stray. A sports site can provoke a mild telling off, while a hard-core porn site can be reported to the administrator and leave the user with a very firm reminder that such sites are not allowed at work.
SurfControl Web Filter also offers extremely fine-tuned bandwidth control. You can set it so that users are allowed to download large files or streaming media from specific types of sites at particular times - or not download at all, of course.
To ensure the best use of the product, care must be taken as to where in the network it is placed. Ideally, it should be installed as close to the network edge as possible, otherwise there is a danger that it will be unable to see all the traffic that passes through from the internet. Installation is very simple, and configuration is performed through the Rules Administrator window, which is a well-thought-out GUI that enables you to set access rules with the minimum of fuss.
All monitoring is carried out via the monitor window; this shows all users and the sites that they are visiting or attempting to visit. One very useful aspect of this is that you can drill down into the list, which means that you don't have to constantly run reports.
The level of granularity offered by this product makes it one of the most powerful tools in this Group Test. It is perfect for business environments that permit a limited amount of 'free range' internet access but still want to ensure that misuse doesn't occur.