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IronPort Image Analysis

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The growth of image capturing devices along with the availability and speed of the Internet and networks has enabled users to create, upload and share illicit images globally in a matter of seconds. The problem for employers is that this abuse occurs daily on corporate networks whose contents are the legal responsibility of the directors of that company.

In an increasingly litigious society, employees are fully aware of their rights to work in a safe environment and employers now have a legal responsibility to provide this. In addition to legal liability issues, there are also concerns about a company's brand image being damaged by employee actions, which can ultimately affect the company's top and bottom line.

Simply put, the company is under the following risks for not tackling the issue of inappropriate content in the workplace:

  • Legal liability imposed by laws and regulations
  • Loss of reputation and brand image
  • Decreased user productivity
  • Abuse of corporate networks

In order to deal with pornography and a host of other issues companies typically implement a set of rules called Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). IronPort Image Analysis helps companies enforce AUP by identifying illicit images in the corporate email network. The benefits from this solution include:

  • Identifying policy offenders
  • Educating suspects about company policies and local laws
  • Avoiding legal liability by displaying best efforts to prevent and correct harassment
  • Preserving company brand image
IronPort Image Analysis

IronPort Image Analysis uses state-of-the-art technology to detect illicit content in both incoming and outgoing email - allowing customers to identify, monitor and educate offending users.


Multi-layered detection is enabled during the scanning process. IronPort Image Analysis uses 11 different detection methods on the attachment and comes up with a verdict. Detection methods include advanced edge detection, body part separation, body part layout and more.

Configurable verdict settings are an important part of IronPort Image Analysis. The image analysis filter rule allows administrators to determine which actions to take, based on the following verdicts:

  • Clean: The image is free of illicit content. The image analysis verdict is computed on the message as a whole, so a message without any images will receive a "clean" verdict if scanned.
  • Suspect: The image may contain illicit content.
  • Inappropriate: The image contains illicit content.

These verdicts represent a numeric value assigned by the IronPort Image Analysis algorithm to determine probability of illicit content. The following default values are recommended:

  • Clean: 0 to 49
  • Suspect: 50 to 74
  • Inappropriate: 75 to 100

Users can fine-tune image scanning settings by configuring the values to use when determining the settings for clean, suspect, or illicit content for a particular mail profile and environment.

"27 percent of Fortune 500 companies have battled sexual harassment claims stemming from employee misuse and abuse of corporate email and Internet systems."

-The American Management Association

Embedded image scanning allows inspection of the following types of attached and embedded files: JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, GIF, TGA, ICO and PCX. When scanning image attachments, IronPort® fingerprinting determines the file type, and IronPort Image Analysis uses algorithms to examine the image content. If the image is embedded in another file, IronPort's content scanning engine extracts the file. The content scanning engine can extract images from more than 400 file types, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Policy integration provides the ability for users to take actions based on policy matches. IronPort Image Analysis integrates with message and content filters and thus enables policy-based filtering and reporting on a per-recipient or per-sender basis. The existing filtering infrastructure allows for multiple actions to be combined, based on a single filter match. For example, if the engine detects an illicit image in an email, multiple actions (like stripping the attachment, stamping with a company policy message, etc.) can be performed on it. Based on filter matches, administrators can also leverage the existing reporting functionality and create easy-to-use reports in both PDF and CSV formats. These reports can be generated 'on-demand' or scheduled for automatic generation and distribution.

"Even a successful defense against a harassment suit can cost, on average, $100,000 and the average sexual harassment verdict against an employer is more than $250,000."

-The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Powerful Management Many network administrators admit that they do not have any idea what inappropriate image content is flowing in and out of (or may be residing on) their network. IronPort Image Analysis enables a robust management tool, which allows visibility into the problem and a simple way to identify policy offenders. The easy-to-use interface and integration with content filtering and reporting infrastructure provides network administrators with a simple deployment and monitoring tool to successfully enforce company policies.

IronPort Image Analysis gives administrators visibility into inbound and outbound message content.

"IronPort Image Analysis gives administrators visibility into inbound and outbound message content."

Quickly zero-in on users with the highest match on the policy filter.

"Quickly zero-in on users with the highest match on the policy filter."

Avoid Legal Liability In cases involving a hostile working environment, U.S. Supreme Court rulings have held employers liable for actions of employees. Various laws in places such as the Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia also hold employers responsible for such employee actions. Based on data collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the average sexual harassment verdict against employers has been more than $250,000. Even in cases where employers have successfully defended themselves from such claims, the legal costs have averaged about $100,000. However, court rulings and laws have indicated that an employer may not be held legally responsible if it has taken best efforts in exercising reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior. IronPort Image Analysis provides various detection, reporting and policy enforcement features that can help employers in defending themselves in such situations.

Preserve Brand Image Companies spend millions of dollars to develop a brand image and project that image worldwide. In financial, government and medical establishments the image is conservative, secure and professional. For large retailers, a "family friendly" image is important. The effect of negative publicity upon these carefully crafted images can be very serious - potentially leading to ridicule in the press and lost revenue. IronPort Image Analysis enables employers to proactively thwart such threats by monitoring corporate email messaging and taking necessary remediation steps.

Protect Employees Research has shown that it is often important and high-profile company employees who are likely to be transmitting and receiving inappropriate content. Enforcement of company policies generally results in dismissal or discipline of these employees for network abuse, resulting in loss of valuable company assets. With AUP and IronPort Image Analysis technology, a company can take insurance against this possible loss.

Figure 1.

IronPort Image Analysis


Download the IronPort Image Analysis Data Sheet (PDF).