SummaryThis one took a reverse approach to the problems of web security and may have hit a home run. Purewire's approach is that web filters control users when the users really need to be protected. When the user is in the office, a combination of filters and policies protect the user to some degree. Outside of the secure environment there is no real protection. How do you fix that?
According to Purewire (recently acquired by Barracuda Networks), you do it by connecting through a security gateway that inspects the user's browsing patterns and the responses that the user gets from sites being browsed. The gateway looks at the overall browsing activity and allows or blocks certain types of activity. The gateway, provided as SaaS, acts as a sort of proxy that sits between the user and the web. It covers compliance and threat issues. That means that just about anything that can go wrong with a web browsing session can be detected and managed no matter where the user is.
To facilitate this, Purewire maintains many IP service points and network operations centers around the world. Think of the Purewire system as sort of a secure ISP. When the user is outside of the office - e.g., off of the controlled network - the user logs in through the secure gateway. The gateway inspects the session in a variety of ways that include both the user's behavior and the response from the site.
The gateway is set up for each customer using rules and policies. These rules are very easy to set up and deploy. It can perform a variety of functions, including blocking an activity or simply alerting. Overrides also are available in a variety of forms. Overall, the Purewire gateway service offers to all of the organization's users all of the protection that one would want on the organization's enterprise, whether the users are working on the web from the enterprise or not.
We thought that this was a superb idea. Apparently, Barracuda did too, since they announced at the SC World Congress that they had acquired Purewire . And we liked the presentation as well. The company was founded by CipherTrust veterans and the background shows. For example, understanding that the market responds to both agent and agentless approaches, depending on who you ask, the company offers both.
This is not an easy product to build - Purewire designs its own algorithms - but it is easy to describe. Purewire has a couple of excellent videos on its website that tell the story very well. Overall, we liked this one a lot and, even though they were a new and different company by the time they came to the Throwdown, the technology was still the same innovative approach to a tough problem and we liked that, new company or not.
Product: Purewire Web Security Service
Cost: $1-5 per user per month.
The problem it solves: Dangers of browsing on the web.
What we liked: Ease of use and innovative approach to web security through SaaS.
What we didn't like: Nothing. This is a first-rate approach to a nasty problem.