Symantec Web Security is a product specifically designed to monitor the content of HTTP, HTTPS and FTP traffic. It takes the form of a proxy server that sits behind your firewall; with most firewalls it will operate transparently, but you have the bonus of integration with Check Point's FireWall-1.

Virus protection is provided by Symantec AntiVirus, but this is beefed up even more by the addition of the Navex engine, which allows real time updates to AntiVirus without the need to take the application offline. LiveUpdate ensures the latest signature lists, with heuristic scanning adding another line of defense.

Symantec Web Security offers both specific URL blocking and content filtering. URL blocking is made simple by pre-defined category lists. However, Symantec Web Security's unique selling point is dynamic document review (DDR). This scans web pages on the fly, searching for forbidden key words and phrases - in context. Together, these two tools should provide ample security.

The management of individual users and groups is easy. You can specify a range of sites that particular users or groups can access, and you can also set time periods when certain types of internet access are permitted. This can also be used for bandwidth management.

Users who exceed a given number of content violations in a certain period of time will encounter the AutoLock feature, which will automatically lock the user out.

Installation (on Windows NT/ 2000 and Solaris platforms) is extremely easy, with configuration and management performed through a web-based console. One slight drawback is that the console could do with a bit of a usability overhaul: currently it gets a little confusing.

Documentation is up to Symantec's usual high standard, with a comprehensive implementation guide (both hardcopy and PDF) and a very useful quick start manual. There is also considerable online help, which proved invaluable when trying to navigate the configuration GUI.

A factor which is especially important for an application such as this is the availability of extensive and flexible reports, enough to keep even the most paranoid administrator happy.