Debate Over Facebook Use At Work Gets New Compromise From Palo Alto Networks Firewall

By David Cohen Comment

The ongoing back-and-forth between whether or not to allow Facebook at work doesn’t have to be black-and-white anymore: Palo Alto Networks is offering a solution with a touch of grey.

Rather than simply blocking sites such as Facebook altogether, the next-generation firewall options from Palo Alto Networks allow network administrators to set selective policies.

For example, network administrators can permit access to Facebook components such as status updates and the newsfeed, but they can prohibit click-throughs to shared links or downloading of files — that would neutralize the threat of being victimized by phishing, identity theft, viruses, malware, and other online dangers.

Palo Alto Networks founder Nir Zuk told Bloomberg Businessweek, “Our customers don’t want to block Facebook. They want to use it, but they also want some control.”

Zuk added that he tried to implement similar situations at his previous employers, including CheckPoint Software Technologies and Juniper Networks, “but they would not let me,” so he spent 18 months working on the initial code for Palo Alto Networks, and he was able to raise $65 million in funding.

The firewalls from Palo Alto Networks combine single-pass software and parallel-processing hardware to form what the company calls its SP3 (Single Pass Parallel Processing) architecture, which, the company boasts has high performance and efficiency.

It also offers the additional benefit of a single, fully integrated policy, enabling simple, easier management of enterprise network security.”

Readers: Share your experiences from either side of the debate over whether to allow Facebook use in workplaces.