SurfControl rides Internet filtering wave

3Com and SurfControl are helping enterprises enact appropriate Web usage policies and block dangerous or inappropriate content, part of a growing trend to use the network to thwart malicious content.

3Com Corp. this week announced a partnership with SurfControl Plc to add Internet filtering capabilities to its flagship family of networking products, part of a growing trend as companies look to the network for content filtering.

Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com announced Monday that its line of OfficeConnect routers and VPN firewalls will now offer SurfControl's Web filtering service to protect networks from Internet content risks.

The Internet filtering software is provided as a managed service that filters out malicious and inappropriate Web content being accessed by users on a network. Moderation of this content is important because it could potentially add latency to the network, decrease productivity or create legal liabilities.

Artur Kocharyan, product manager for 3Com, said the filtering technology is ideal for customers who want to use one device to mitigate employee misuse of Internet content. Companies lose thousands of dollars per employee on an annual basis, according to Kocharyan, due to non-business-related Internet activity.

Kocharyan added that the service's deployment procedure makes it particularly effective for small and medium-sized business customers because the product is easy to install and maintain.

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Brett Matesen, vice president of business development at Scotts Valley, Calif.-based SurfControl, said a customer can register online and begin using the content management service without having to download software or upgrade hardware.

Because of a large demand for Internet filtering products, the 3Com and SurfControl partnership isn't unique. The Web filtering company also provides its technology to 18 other vendors including Nokia, IBM, Novell Inc. and Radware Inc.

Charles Kolodgy, research director at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass., said the content filtering market is hot right now due to the prevalence of spyware, phishing and malicious Web and e-mail attacks.

Kocharyan cited IDC research that forecasts the secure content market will grow to $7.5 billion by 2008, with the Web and e-mail filtering segments growing by 23% and 34% per year, respectively.

"Content filters, on the e-mail side, in and across networks will continue to grow," Kolodgy said. "I fully expect to see more and more groundbreaking as encryption and security functions develop relationships and cross over."

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