Curb unwanted Internet usage

The Internet lets you expand your business network, but Internet access can cause decreased employee productivity, a larger demand on network bandwidth, and legal liabilities. You can prevent these problems with Elron Software's CommandView Internet Manager 4.7.

This software helps you track and control Internet access in realtime, so you can review comprehensive reports for a network's users, groups, and workstations. The product installs between your Internet gateway and the rest of your network so that it can control and capture all network traffic related to Web, FTP, Telnet, usenet news, and gopher sites and record this information in a relational database. CommandView Internet Manager also supports utilization reporting of Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) news groups. Screen 1 shows the software's reports.

You can integrate the product into networks that use proxy servers or segments so that only certain workstations have Internet access. The product has four components: the Internet Manager Web Server, the Internet Manager Filter, the Real-Time Monitor, and the Internet Browser.

The Internet Manager Web Server provides an HTML interface to view information that the Internet Manager Filter collects. The Internet Manager Filter service monitors, collects, and logs all network traffic based on the configuration you set with the Real-Time Monitor. The Real-Time Monitor lets you view users' network requests and provides an interface to configure the Internet Manager Filter. The Internet Browser lets you view and print realtime information and perform administrative tasks.

I tested CommandView Internet Manager on a Windows NT 4.0 server and several NT 4.0 workstations. Installing the product was straightforward. I chose a port for the Web service component to use, selected an installation directory, and selected a Start menu program folder. The setup wizard copied the software onto the system and automatically started the Real-Time Monitor.

To configure the software, I logged on with the software's default username and password. Next, I chose Workstation Management, then License Masking, where I defined the IP addresses for the network clients I wanted to control. The software doesn't require you to reconfigure gateway addresses on network workstations. Instead, the software sends a connection termination packet, which stops unwanted site access.

The software limits the sites that users can access with SmartLists, which contain forbidden URLs and keywords. The product blocks certain URLs outright, and when it sees a defined keyword in a site's description, it can automatically add the site's address to the list of restricted sites.

The software has preconfigured lists but doesn't rely on subscriptions to third-party word lists, so you must manually define dictionary words and URLs. You can add words to a dictionary and set the product to prevent site blocking if the words are present (e.g., you can block sites that contain sports, but not if they include Yahoo).

The product's Open Enrollment lets users sign up to use the Internet in a free-form style without a set name or an imported name list. The Unrestricted IP list lets you implement Forced Login for access to all external Web sites but allow access to specified internal sites without requiring the user to authenticate first.

The software also supports customizable block messages that it can send to users it blocks from reaching a site. These messages can contain links to other Web pages, such as an Acceptable Internet Use Policy page.

This software is good for controlling and reporting network users' Internet access. The product can pay for itself by recovering misused bandwidth and misspent employee time.

CommandView Internet Manager 4.7
Contact: Elron Software * 617-914-5000 or 800-767-6683
Web: http://www.elronsoftware.com
Price: Starts at $895 for 25 users
System Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 with Service Pack 5 or later, 90MHz Pentium processor or better, 32MB of RAM, 15MB of hard disk space