The reassuring glow of Apple's distinctive logo no longer guarantees that malware will keep its distance. To help Mac-based small businesses cope with a security landscape that doesn't discriminate between computing platforms, Mac security company Intego has released Flextivity, an integrated, cloud-based security and activity monitoring service.
Intego's CEO, Jeff Erwin, remembers the days when the average Mac owner could explore the Internet and go on about her life without anti-virus protection. It was a simpler time when only her Windows colleagues had to worry about opening the wrong email attachment, downloading dodgy software or clicking on the wrong link.
Mac security changed forever in 2012 when a Trojan spread to hundreds of thousands of Macs. "Apple dropped that 'Macs don't get viruses' [marketing mantra] after Flashback," Erwin told Small Business Computing, underscoring the fundamental shift in Mac security since the data-stealing malware appeared on the scene.
Unlike in years past, turning the Mac faithful on to anti-virus protection nowadays is "not a tough sell," he said.
After installing a software agent, Flextivity allows SMBs to centrally secure and monitor their Mac environments. The product's anti-virus component guards against malware and other intrusive code that can cause computers to spill their secrets. A firewall blocks unwanted traffic and attempts to hack in.
Flextivity supports real-time and scheduled scanning. Further, it can scan popular email clients to detect for malware and keep nasty surprises out of workers inboxes.
As important as it is to improve Mac security by blocking viruses and other malicious code, Intego also offers cloud-based tools to help small businesses preserve their productivity.
Protecting Small Business Productivity, Too
Social media has opened up inexpensive, and frankly fun, ways of engaging with consumers and providing great customer experiences. But the truth in many workplaces is that social networks— Facebook in particular—does more harm than good.
"Facebook is a resource sink like none other created," said Erwin. Likes, tweets and Pinterest pins compete with workers time and attention, a state of affairs that has "surfaced as a problem for small business owners as productivity dropped."
Flextivity Monitor allows organizations to set policies governing what websites employees may frequent and when. With time- and location-based controls SMBs can, for instance, limit access to time-wasting sites during working hours on their networks. When an employee takes home a laptop for the night, those restrictions are lifted. Similar tools exist for applications, preventing the use of unauthorized software at work while permitting access for personal applications while at home.
In a virtual demonstration, a Web-based interface offered an intuitive dashboard that should feel familiar to anyone who has spent time online. Flextivity Monitor displays an inventory of affected Macs along with popular presets for policy creation and device monitoring. Naturally, power users can fine tune their environments using a wealth of easy-to-configure options.
One of those options includes a feature, while controversial at first blush, can help businesses avoid major HR headaches.
Preventing Bad Employee Behavior
A keystroke-aware screenshot recording feature captures suspicious activity or employee bad behavior.
The function triggers when anyone types certain keywords or phrases into a chat window, for example. You can also configure screenshots to be captured at scheduled intervals.
Erwin fully admitted that the feature "can be perceived as very creepy," but its purpose is to empower businesses to combat and protect themselves against instances of harassment, impropriety and violations of company policy. Employers can stop workplace bullying and inappropriate banter, the type that can spark a sexual harassment suit, in its tracks.
According to Erwin, "screenshot recording is one of those features that we're careful with." As such, it doesn't work as a keystroke logger. What's more, Intego uses Mac taskbar icons to make it plainly obvious that the software is running. "It's not a spying product," he added. "The employee knows that the software is running. We're not trying to hide anything."
Flextivity Secure is available now for $3.50 per computer per month. Flextivity Monitor costs $8.50 per computer month. Flextivity Complete (Secure and Monitor) is a $12.00 monthly plan.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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