Forging a Web 2.0 Shield

An early adopter uses URL filtering technology to guard against phishing scams and malicious intrusions

In 2006, just as the first tweet was being Twittered, BT Global Services launched an effort to keep its customers and 112,000 employees safe in a new world of Web-based communities and other interactive sites.

BT's security initiative started early, paralleling the emergence of collaborative Web 2.0 applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

"We see social networking sites as an enablement tool" to help extend BT Group PLC's reach to prospective customers while helping employees build new business relationships online, says Ray Stanton, global head of BT's business continuity, security and governance practice.

But while BT stands apart from many companies in that it lets employees visit social media sites within the constructs of its Internet usage policy, it still needed a way to protect the company and its staffers from potential security threats lurking in cyberspace. For instance, the vulnerability of mashups to data leakage "has been one of our critical concerns," says Stanton.

A user might, for example, gain access to a mashup that combines a service for finding local restaurants with information from a social networking or mapping site, says Stanton. "There is the opportunity if the information is not secured across all the boundaries [that] residual information could be left or leaked at any point in the process," he says.

A criminal could figure out where the employee lives based on the restaurant's location and the mashup of the mapping system, adds Stanton. "And yes, if you book online, then guess what, we know where you live [and] what time you're out," he says.

In addition to keeping its employees safe, BT also wanted to apply technologies that would enable it to enforce its Internet usage policies. After holding a series of technical workshops with a number of security software vendors, Stanton and his team decided to use a set of URL filtering and security technologies from Blue Coat Systems Inc. about three years ago.

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