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‘Early Warning’ Safe Search Service Reduces Unwanted Web Surfing


LONDON & SAN MATEO, Calif. - According to ScanSafe, a provider of Web Security-as-a-Service, companies that use SearchAhead experience a 28 percent reduction in visits to sites that violate corporate Web usage policy.

SearchAhead scans results from popular search engines Google, Yahoo! and MSN in real-time, providing advance warning of any malware and guidance on acceptable or unacceptable websites, based on the customer’s Web filtering policies. The service represents a significant advance in Web content security because it provides users with an ‘early warning’ system for Web threats. Since its launch, SearchAhead has been used in nearly 10 million searches and has served up over 90 million safe search icons, allowing its customers to educate users and enforce policy.

“For most users, Internet search engines are their primary entry point to the Web,” said Dan Nadir, vice president, product strategy, ScanSafe. “However, while Google and the others are really good at providing relevant search results, none of them address the potential policy or security problems associated with search results. By proactively educating and warning users, users can no longer claim that they ‘inadvertently’ visited sites that violated their usage policy.”

According to the company, over 90 percent of new sites visited are found through Internet searches and one in five Internet search result pages contained either malware or offensive content. Offensive content represents the greatest risk, accounting for 80 percent of total search blocks. In March, ScanSafe reported that 49 percent of all Web browsing at work is non-productive. This highlights the increasing risk for corporate users: search results can negatively impact productivity if not managed correctly and also represent risk vectors for information leakage and legal threats.

“As a marketing research firm, we have a real need to allow our account executives and project managers access to the Web and search engines in order to gather relevant information,” said Michael Gray, chief technology officer, Socratic Technologies, Inc. “SearchAhead allows our employees to learn which search results are acceptable and safe. It reduces Web blocks and fosters safe Web surfing. SearchAhead helps educate users about our Web use policy and puts them in control of ensuring they don’t violate it—they can police themselves. It gives us input and control without restricting them from performing at their jobs. As a result, our IT staff no longer has to spend time being the ‘bad guys’.”

ScanSafe also reported that the most requested search terms on SearchAhead since the feature’s launch in February were:

1. match

2. hotmail

3. drudge

4. ebay

5. trip advisor

6. weather

When the SearchAhead feature is enabled, it automatically annotates all search engine results with no additional hardware or software required. Because each search result is scanned for malware and unwanted content in real-time, users can be certain that the sites they visit are safe. Search results are traffic-light color-coded according to their status and these warning icons let users know in advance when a particular link will be blocked or logged. Users are presented with a detailed explanation for any warning with the aim of preventing users from accidentally visiting unauthorized sites and breaching their organization’s Web usage policy.


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