TMCnews Featured Article
February 10, 2009
Interview: Monitor Irregular Internet Activities with Phantom Technologies
By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor
Phantom Technologies, a provider of Web content filtering technologies, has come up with the new version of iBoss with automatic monitoring and recording features. The new tool enables enterprises to manage and document appropriate versus inappropriate Internet usage.
Technology Marketing Corporation recently caught up with Peter Martini, co-founder and the chief operating officer of the San Diego-based company, to gain perspective on the technology.
Our exchange follows.
Peter Martini: Phantom Technologies (News - Alert) was founded by Paul Martini and myself in 2002 and incorporated in 2004 when it released its debut product, the iPhantom security hardware. When installed, the iPhantom created an instant bi-directional AES encryption, gateway anti-virus, and anonymous feature providing the ultimate secure connection for both desktop and road warriors. In 2005 Phantom Technologies released the award winning iBoss Web Filter hardware which is now the company’s focus.
Phantom Technologies’ mission is to create robust Web filters that require no software deployment, operating system independent, simple to navigate, providing the latest in Web filtering technology and making it available to all sectors including residential, small business, and medium to large corporations.
Phantom is continually seeking new and innovative features that set iBoss Web filters apart. Phantom Technologies uses proprietary engineering and is designed in San Diego.
TMC: What is Phantom Technologies’ share in the Web filtering and Internet security market? How do you expect this to grow?
PM: Phantom Technologies currently has over 100,000 users worldwide and growing. Businesses today are looking for solutions that have low initial cost but still allow them the ability to expand at their pace especially due to the current economic environment. This was Phantom’s mission statement even before the current downturn of the economy and a good reason why we have seen the popularity of iBoss Web filters from its debut. Our products are sold with no per seat license and no throughput restrictions. All models include the comprehensive report manager at no additional cost.
By listening to our customers, it has provided us valuable information on trends and what they are facing on the frontlines. A good example was the release of the iBoss Pro80 SMB Web filter in 2005. This was the first solution for small businesses that were looking for Web filtering solutions priced in the sub $200 price range. Our small business customers with fewer than 25 employees were telling us that current appliances were too expensive and the only alternative was parental control software which was cumbersome and unpractical. iBoss Pro80 has seen double digit growth since release.
The new releases for 2009 continue our commitment to meeting customer needs with unique and powerful feature adds to the iBoss with no additional fees. Additionally, subscription cost never increase upon renewal and customers are locked into rates until cancellation.
TMC: There are many Web filtering technologies in the market. What is unique about Phantom Technologies’ iBoss Enterprise Web Filter? Are there any loopholes in the technology by which it can be misused?
PM: Besides features such as URL filtering, deep packet inspection, Web 2.0 filtering, proxy and torrent filtering along with other comprehensive alternatives, iBoss is different. What sets the iBoss Enterprise apart is features not found in competitive products. These features are designed for productivity, cost efficiency and security such as auto desktop recording, built in comprehensive report manager, real time logs, violations including video playback, expansion capabilities with the iBoss Pro120 units, and the highest throughput capabilities when compared to its competitors.
Phantom Technologies was founded on designing security and encryption products. The iBoss uses AES encryption to provide the utmost in security. An administrator has access to the iBoss and customers can create a separate login for access to the report manager to restrict access to only those authorized. Also, the desktop recording (DMCR) is only activated per customer request through Phantom Technologies to prevent unwanted access by certain customers. Violation and usage reports can even be defined for different levels of management such as HR, Management, Executive, etc. providing only the information necessary in the particular dept.
TMC: You said that customers can set categories of Web sites or applications to be watched so that they can monitor irregular activities “live.” How do you ensure privacy to users accessing the monitored Web sites or applications for ethical use – for example, sending chat messages to friends or family from an office?
PM: The DMCR allows the ability to record based on threshold. For example, any ‘2’ violations to an ‘adult’ site within ‘3min’, the desktop is recorded for ‘5min’. This will only record upon these violations and not a constant recording. The administrator can set the threshold based on their Internet Use Policy. This also protects employees from unintended violations resulting from pop ups, emails, etc. since the administrators will be able to confirm it was unintentional.
The DMCR does allow for live monitoring of user desktop if activated by the administrator. Depending on the customer, this may be in their Internet Use Policy. The administrator typically set a custom message when users open a Web browser notifying the user of the Internet Use Policy and of the possibilities of recording. Ultimately it is in the hands of the employer and also why we do not allow the DMCR to be activated on the client side. The end responsibility is in the hands of the customer.
TMC: While iBoss helps increase productivity, won’t it create insecurity and lack of freedom among people?
PM: We find that many employees benefit from the desktop recording as it protects them from unintentional violation that may be reported. Many employers were currently waiting for multiple violations from particular employees before confronting the employee in order to confirm it was an intentional violation. Worse yet, another employee approaches management when fellow employees use the Internet inappropriately. The ability to assess the violation, and take immediate action protects not only the employers from liability but fellow employees who are affected. We believe customers should have a clear and updated Internet Use Policy in place and educate employees of this. Open communication is the best solution in any work environment.
TMC: What is your advice to prospective customers concerned about hurting their employees?
PM: We are big supporters of open communication in an office. We stress the importance of going over an Internet Use Policy and having employees sign them. Employers should notify employees of the company’s Internet Use Policy when they are using any sort of Web filter or monitor. If an employer opts for DMCR they will want to explain how it works and the benefits to both sides. If employees have a clear understanding of these policies, it will reduce their concerns.
TMC: What future solutions are in the pipeline?
PM: Releases for 2009 include Home: iBoss N Parental Control.
The iBoss Home N parental control is an update from the current iBoss Home G parental control. This will provide home users with the same level of protection found in the iBoss Home G but with the extended wireless range of N. Compatible with all OS including Windows 7 which it was recently tested against, theiBoss Home provides comprehensive filtering for the home including URL, keyword, safe search enforcement, image search, domain extension, Web 2.0 application filtering and more. One subscription of $59.95 covers all the computers in the home including gaming consoles and PDA’s such as the iPhone (News - Alert)/iTouch.
We also have SMB: iBoss Pro120, an update from the Pro80. No software deployment means that is OS independent. This is a Web filtering solution for the SMB market priced under $200 and no per seat licensing.
The new feature allows you to set up an iBoss report manager at a central or HQ location and connect to multiple iBoss Pro120s at remote sites by simply dropping iBoss Pro120 in each location. No VPN to set up, or hassles to network. Each Pro120 will report all activity to the central iBoss Reporter and provide detailed information for each location while filtering these locations. Control each location centrally and even monitor real time activity. No need for the cost of setups or extensive upfront cost (Each Pro120 under $200).
TMC: What is the projected growth of Web filtering market?
PM: According to a report by Research and Markets (Report 358502), the Web filtering market has grown dramatically in the past 2 years. Another report by Frost Sullivan estimates that the Web Filtering market is expected to reach $5.6 billion by 2013.
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Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan