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Barracuda Luncheon

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Today I went to a lunch seminar put on by Barracuda Networks and Layer 8 at Mario's, a very nice italian restaurant. I love these things; you get a free lunch, maybe learning something (assuming it just isn't a sales pitch) and you get out of work for a couple hours.

my l33t shirtI have a Barracuda web filter at school ruining all the kid's fun, which is why I got the invite. They probably want me to buy the spam filter, the IM filter and who could live without their email archiver? Not only was it at a very nice local italian place, it was about 1 mile from work. When I got there the car that pulled in behind me contained Brad, an old friend from RIT, and a co-worker of his. This was awesome because I got to see him again and I had someone to talk to. Usually when I go to these things alone I don't talk to anyone (I'm shy).

The food was fantastic (as expected) and the presentation was very good. I felt bad for Tim, Barracuda's regional sales manager who was doing the presentation. He's a sales guy, and all these ornery nerds were asking questions and getting into debates (sometimes with each other) over stupid things like HIPAA compliance and something he might have misspoken. When he was talking about their email archiver he said something about being able to remove quota's from users' mailboxes and these guys jumped all over him for that. I knew what Tim meant even though he said something contradictory. I'd like to think these guys could just chill while they enjoy their free lunch, but no.

It wouldn't have been an IT seminar without some freebies and sure enough at the end of the presentation Tim was giving away hats and shirts to people who could answer questions correctly. Brad got a hat and I got the "email retentive" shirt!

Comments (11) Subscribe

Anonymous
#1 - Oct 4, 2008 at 10:28 AM
The IM filter seems highly dependent on knowledge of protocols used.
Also, what happens if the Web filter has a hardware failure? Does the network go down?
Joe
#2 - Oct 4, 2008 at 3:03 PM
It is dependent on the protocols and the filter gets hourly updates (just like the spam and web filters) from barracuda.

It depends on the hardware that fails. If the unit has power it should fail open and not block any traffic. If power is the problem obviously it'll block internet traffic in and out.
Anonymous
#3 - Oct 7, 2008 at 5:55 AM
What happens if I write my own protocol?
Joe
#4 - Oct 7, 2008 at 6:52 AM
All of these network monitoring tools work on known protocols, if you write your own obviously it'll get past. If that new protocol becomes popular enough however, barracuda will update their software to be able to understand it.

IM really isn't a problem anymore though, not many kids use it now that texting is so popular.

The thing to keep in mind is finding a way to get around a filter doesn't mean you're free to use it. I could lock Harley's network down so tight you couldn't use it for anything more than typing a paper and browsing the 3 sites deemed acceptable, but what good would that do? If you're smart and persistent enough, you can find your way around any filter, but at that point it turns into discipline/behavior issue rather than a policy enforcement issue. Nothing is stopping you from stealing furniture from the school, it's not chained to the floor, but you know it's wrong and if you get caught you'll be in trouble. Same goes for the computers; we make a reasonable effort to prevent students from accessing inappropriate material and doing bad things, but if you find a way and do it, you're going to get in trouble. In the real world (college/job) you'll get expelled/fired for doing things like that.

Anonymous
#5 - Oct 7, 2008 at 9:03 AM
Interestingly, I haven't really found any site I wanted to access from school blocked this year. Hackaday and most game sites aren't blocked any more.
Joe
#6 - Oct 7, 2008 at 12:37 PM
That's good. I don't particularly like blocking all sorts of popular sites, I really could care less. Obviously I need to comply with certain legislation and block access to stuff like porn, but other than that things usually get blocked because teachers complain about abuse.
Anonymous
#7 - Nov 13, 2008 at 8:43 AM
Actually, I can't subscribe to feeds with Google Reader because Google uses a feed proxy, but it only blocks it occasionally. Also, websites about potato cannons seem to be blocked...
A teacher
#8 - Nov 13, 2008 at 6:06 PM
I'd imagine that websites about potato cannons are blocked because of the chance that a stupid kid would build one and hurt someone...
Do you really expect to be able look at websites about how to build a potato gun at school? Seriously. Stop complaining. Do your homework.
Joe
#9 - Nov 13, 2008 at 6:31 PM
Haha
Anonymous
#10 - Nov 18, 2008 at 11:14 AM
Yeah, but the filter has also prevented me from using Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds.
@teacher: Do you really expect someone to build a potato cannon at school? If I want to build a potato cannon, I can look up instructions at my house. Anyone who hurts themselves with a potato cannon deserves it. And I did my homework.
Anonymous
#11 - Nov 19, 2008 at 6:00 AM
It tells me that it has blocked feedproxy.google.com, and this prevents me from subscribing to any feeds or viewing the actual page for the article.

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