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Sheriff shoots for channel partners

Sheriff shoots for channel partners

Internet management software developer Tel.Net has abandoned its online advertising products to focus on selling an Internet access security service.

Tel.Net has released a new software service called "Internet Sheriff" (not to be confused with online ratings company Red Sheriff), an Internet management tool organisations can use to restrict Internet/e-mail usage among employees.

The service is described by Tel.Net general manager Adam Barnard as a more sophisticated alternative to the "band-aid" solutions that network administrators often use to control Internet and e-mail usage, such as blocking certain file extensions in incoming mail (.mp3 or .mpeg, for example). Barnard said it is also an alternative to what he terms the "horse has bolted" strategy of monitoring log files to check which Internet pages users have surfed weeks or months later.

These kinds of policies are often looked at as employers taking on a Big Brother mentality by spying on their employees. Barnard instead suggests an Internet access policy, agreed upon by employees and their employer and managed through the Internet Sheriff service, can provide adequate balance. Organisations can choose to restrict the surfing of personal Internet sites to certain hours or under certain conditions, all managed with a drag-and-drop graphical user interface.

The service automatically blocks any sites deemed inappropriate by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, but unlike other services that send down lists to the management software to update it on a regular basis, the Internet Sheriff service operates in real time. Any request to access a site not categorised by the service is sent to a relay server, which engages in real-time dynamic modelling to categorise the site on the basis of information found in its HTTP header, word and graphical content, image quality and links.

The service is already being used by several ISPs such as connect.com and pnc.com.au as well as TAFE colleges and corporate customers such as TNT. But Barnard is keen to engage with value-added resellers to gain wider exposure for the product.

Resellers would need technical skills in either the Sun Solaris platform or the Linux platform. Sun Microsystems has already indicated interest in the product on behalf of its authorised resellers, according to Barnard.


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