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Thread: Format Wars, Standards & Competition

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One world --- Or none!

The mysterious Sqworm


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 19:21:59 +1100

There has been quite a bit of feedback about Sqworm lately. I am sorry not to have responded to those people who asked me about it. It seems that Sqworm comes from a company called Websense.

According to their advertisements Websense offers a server-based, Internet content-screening system, to allow organisations to monitor and/or block network traffic to inappropriate Internet sites. Here is how they say it works:

They offer products for the following platforms:

There may be others. Since some of this information was gathered from old advertisements. I could not get access to their site unless I registered.

Websense make a pitch to schools and parents who might be concerned about what their youngsters might be viewing on the Internet.

I get the impression that Websense are now focusing on the Corporate sector, and offering services that limit employees' Internet access.

Apart from being a less lucrative market it would seem that the domestic market has some potential flaws. The effectiveness of the solution would be dependent on the supervisor (parent/guardian) being a more sophisticated and informed computer user than the person who is being supervised (child/youngster). From my own observations of many households this is not often the case. Or if it is, it is only a temporary state of affairs.

Nevertheless when I went through their 80+ categories it seemed they have not given up on the domestic market.

The only way I could get a look at these categories was to sign-up and give them my e-mail address.

The Websense site uses IIS version 5.0 with PHP version 4.3.7, and ASP. The webpages are prepared with the aid of software from WebSideStory. It is not W3C.

The list of categories is remarkably long. It seems hard to believe that a single company such as this would have the resources to categorise these sites accurately.

They may have quite a few schools amongst their clients.

Out of curiosity, I ran the following sites through Websense:
URL Category
http://www.danbyrnes.com.au Network Errors
http://www.pgts.com.au Information Technology
http://www.voyeurmagic.com.au Travel
http://block.blars.org Personal Web Sites
http://www.biblegateway.com/ Network Errors
http://www.cutecandy.com Sex

The last one (Sex), comes from the PGTS agent_string database. It was attached to an agent_string that pretended to be "grub-client" (or it may actually have been a "grub-client", with a customised agent string). There were HTML tags embedded in the string which pointed to a porn site. Unfortunately it was during a period that the database was neglected, and I did not discover it for a while. I have since updated the software to suppress display of tags.

I also pondered "Network errors". It seems that for some reason websense are not happy with the site www.danbyrnes.com.au. Nor are they happy with www.biblegateway.com. But the DNS entries for both these sites appear ok. And both the sites rate well in Google. More about this later ...

For those who would like to know what the categories are, there is list displayed below. These are the categories that were on the Websense site as of 2005-01-20. I should warn you now that it is quite a long list ... so those that want to skip past it, click here.

Websense Enterprise Premium Groups (available at additional cost)

End of list ... (whew!) ... Now I was going to send them an email asking about "Network Errors", but with the workload they have set themselves, they probably won't have time to answer emails ...

It seems rather ambitions for Websense to expect that the entire Internet could be categorised in such a manner and even if it could, it is hard to believe that an organisation of their size would have the resources to achieve such a herculean task.

I could be wrong of course ... maybe the Internet is a more shallow pond then we all thought ...

Note: Since this was written, I have found out more about websense. To read this report click here.


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