Telemate.Net keeps an eye on e-mail

The issue of inappropriate e-mail usage is a very real one for many companies, according to Vijay Balakrishnan, the senior vice-president of marketing for Atlanta-based Telemate.Net Software Inc. So, to address that issue, Telemate.Net recently launched its new e-mail product, an expansion of another solution.

NetSpective for E-mail — which is available as a stand-alone application or can be used with the company’s NetSpective Internet usage management product — is not a content filtering solution, Balakrishnan pointed out.

“It takes log file data from e-mail servers, specifically Microsoft Exchange and Sendmail, and it passes the log file to get at specific pieces of information that would feed the reporting,” he explained. “That data is taken and populated into a database which is integrated with the product. Then the analytic engine looks at the data and creates reports for the network administrator.”

There are two types of reports that can be obtained. Summary-level data gives an overview of traffic patterns in and out of the enterprise, and detail-on-demand, which allows the manager or network administrator to drill down to specific departments or users to isolate the source of something they feel they need to have a closer look at.

There are multiple aspects to what enterprises are facing, he said.

“The productivity aspect to it is basically if employees are spending their time which should be devoted to doing work, to sending inappropriate e-mail or for that matter very closely allied activities — inappropriate usage of the Web in general. Companies are facing significant losses in productivity.”

NetSpective for E-mail also addresses security by helping network administrators to identify the source of large amounts of e-mail from single sources to multiple destinations. NetSpective itself is an application that deals with e-mail usage and reports on Web browsing by employees, according to Balakrishnan.

Jonathan Penn, a senior analyst with Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif., said it is important for enterprises to have an established policy regarding e-mail, and to ensure that they enforce it.

“E-mail usage concerns are certainly valid concerns to have, especially given the climate today,” he explained. “We certainly urge people to take a look and develop an e-mail and an Internet policy in general. You shouldn’t develop a policy unless you can enforce it. To do that means to monitor, and you can monitor actively and perhaps that involves blocking, or some kind of immediate notification of the supervisor quarantining a message, or it can involve going through logs.”

Going through logs is definitely less intrusive, he pointed out, and less offensive to users, but is also less effective, especially compared to some content filtering tools. An advantage to a tool such as NetSpective’s is that it does not slow down e-mail, he added.

The market for these types of solutions is fairly large right now, Penn said, and is growing.

“I think right now probably about 30 to 40 per cent of companies have some kind of tool in place to monitor usage in some way,” he said. “I think in the next two years we’re going to see it be fairly ubiquitous, especially with the attention that’s been cast on this area.”

When choosing some sort of solution, Penn said he would first suggest looking for something comprehensive that does Web and e-mail, and not necessarily pick different tools.

“I think it should be part of a comprehensive usage policy that’s fairly broad. It should not just include content — what people are sending — but virus detection. Ideally it should include tools for handling encryption, either decrypting files or encrypting them. And I think that’s where all of this is going.”

NetSpective for E-mail, available now, is priced at US$3,495 and includes the capability to report on one e-mail server. It also works in conjunction with the firm’s NetSpective Internet usage management product, available for US$1,995. For each additional server, the price is US$1,995.

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