Its been a long time coming, but this latest McAfee product retirement symbolises the end of an era…
With all the nasty’s inhabiting our internet world, there has long been an approach to keep the unsuitable, inappropriate and corrupting content at bay. Back in the day, a variety of companies were quick to create lists of websites which in turn were categorised such that business and educational establishments could ‘control’ what was visible to the users– thus the Web Filtering Product was born.
One of the main Web Filtering products to emerge was SmartFilter – which in turn used technology born out of a little-known company in the US called N2H2. N2H2 was snapped up by Secure Computing in the early noughties and the list was integrated into its flagship filtering suite of products.
With the explosion of The Web, the manpower required to qualify and categorise websites increased to almost battery farm levels. Thankfully, techniques have improved such that the mainstream filtering products have a body of work which justifies the manpower input and new approaches to classifying content. However, with the shift to malware infecting known ‘good’ sites, zero-day attacks, SSL stopping traditional content analysis and not forgetting multiple sources behind your typical modern-day web page (visitor stats, Adwords, Chat Apps etc) the good ‘ol web filtering list just does not cut it anymore.
With this Web 2.0 world that we live in now, products like SmartFilter can no longer offer the level of cover to truly protect an organisation – which is why, although soon to be removed from the product line-up, SmartFilter has become an also-ran feature of the McAfee Web Protection portfolio. Rest-assured, there are still a bunch of people somewhere in the world maintaining this list (www.trustedsource.org for those feeling nostalgic), however these categorisations will be used in conjunction with other Web 2.0 technologies to give the level of protection we all need to use The Web safely.
For those out there still using list-based web filtering products, check out how many of your sites are ‘uncategorised’ – scary isn’t it? Maybe it’s time to look around for an alternative
SmartFilter will reach EOL on the 10th August 2014. The SmartFilter ‘XL’ database will continue to be maintained and feature in other McAfee/OEM products which continue to be supported until further notice.