I have to admit, I was looking forward to putting Securespot through its paces—especially content filtering. From the management console, I selected "craigs_toshiba" and clicked on "Custom" to create some custom filters. However, I discovered that when I tried to save them, they weren’t being saved properly. A call to tech support yielded that there is a problem with the current "custom" filter function. A patch will be forthcoming "soon."
For my test, I added some additional categories such as Health/Medicine, Political Opinion, Personals/Dating, Sports, and Comics. I started out with the Political Opinion category. To test, I entered "political opinion" into Google’s search. I then clicked on some of the resulting links, including www.conservativevoice.com. Virtually none of my selections was blocked. I also tried some other sites not on Google’s first page, including www.alternet.org. That also was not blocked. I contacted Bsecure’s tech support and they confirmed that those sites were not tagged as "Political Opinion," but rather as "News."
Next, I tried the same test, i.e., entering the Bsecure category name "personals/dating" into Google and trying some of the top links. personals.yahoo.com was not blocked. Nor was eharmony.com. However, match.com was blocked. Again, I contacted tech support and they confirmed that personals.yahoo.com was coded properly, but also came through unblocked. About an hour later, personals.yahoo.com was being properly blocked, as were sites that I reported in other categories, including webmd.com that was previously unblocked in the Health/Medicine category.
It was interesting to observe the filters tightening up over the four-day course of my testing. Suddenly, category names were being blocked when I tried to access them through Google as well as other search engines. Not that I have great expertise or experience in this category, but I did find that Bsecure did a very credible job in blocking pornographic sites—probably one of the first categories that Bsecure tackled. Many were blocked at the search engine level, as were terms like "XXX" or "hot babes."
The mail notification feature worked as expected. My inbox quickly filled up with email notices as I intentionally tried to access sites that Bsecure properly blocked.
From the management console, for each client that has the Bsecure thin client installed, you can see that the protection is enabled for that computer. You can’t, however: schedule AV scans, view AV scan logs, update signatures, or view quarantines for any of the "managed" clients. Nor can you configure identity protection and the popup blocker for client machines from the management console. You have to create those settings on each client computer.
To me, the idea of a management console is to centrally manage clients without having to leave my desk. However, there’s good news. The next version (Version 2.2) is supposed to add the ability to manage endpoint client security from the management console. Version 2.2 is expected to be released in mid-July.
I realize that keeping up with the ever-expanding universe of web pages and blogs has to be a gargantuan task. Finding new sites and properly categorizing them would undoubtedly take a small army of people to do. Nevertheless, that’s the business that Bsecure has chosen to be in and it’s not like they just got into the business.
This is the second version of a product that has been around for almost two years and it’s not presented as Beta. Frankly, I’m very disappointed that for the fairly simplistic tests I ran, so many websites I expected to be blocked were not blocked.
Although Bsecure responded swiftly in closing the holes that I found, I shouldn’t have found them at all. Bsecure’s explanation is that a number of additional categories had been added to Securespot, but data from their existing database hadn’t been completely ported to the new categories.
If there is good news in this, it’s that the underlying mechanism appears to work if the database is properly coded. Moreover, since the content filtering is done "in the cloud" rather than locally, updates to the databases, as I learned, take effect immediately.
I was also disappointed in the handling of managed clients. In my perfect world, the management console should actually manage the clients. Fortunately, Bsecure is already addressing that concern with a planned future revision. I’ll be holding onto the DIR-625 to see how well the next revision works.
Securespot 2.0 is free to try out for 30 days when you buy a DIR-625. Thereafter, it’s $60/year—a fee that includes McAfee licenses for up to three computers. Additional licenses are $20/year. The annual fee also includes content filtering for all of the computers on your network—there’s not a "per seat" charge for content filtering.
In today’s constantly changing and often-dangerous Internet environment, a consumer-oriented, affordable managed service is long overdue. Corporations have been using a combination of perimeter security and client based security for years. Securespot is trying to make that level of protection affordable for the consumer. However, it still has a way to go before it is a service that I would heartily recommend.
That said, there are plenty of other good reasons to buy the DIR-625, even if you decide that Securespot 2.0 managed services is not for you. You’re still getting a great wireless router at a bargain price.