User story: At EBSCO
Seeking a tool to help monitor its B2B and e-Commerce Web apps for security
issues and system errors, EBSCO Industries, Birmingham, Ala., installed TeaLeaf
Since the RealiTea Web app management tool was installed in April 2003, it
has proved easy to implement, and training developers to use it takes two hours
or less, said Tony Webster, manager, information systems at EBSCO. RealiTea
captures each user's session and allows it to be played back so that a Web
administrator, designer or developer can see how the user was interacting with
the app when a problem occurred. EBSCO provides online and print journal
subscription services, book sales, and other services to a customer base made up
of corporate and university users.
''Unfortunately, we're not immune to hack attempts,'' Terry Webster, Web
manager at EBSCO, said of the company's Web apps.
There was a hack attempt shortly after the TeaLeaf tool was installed, he
explained, and he was pleased with how the tool uncovered a security
vulnerability. ''This problem was in such a hidden area of the system,'' Terry
Webster said. ''It would have taken an engineer months to determine where the
hack attempt was coming from. We were able to determine when the hack attempts
were happening. We went into our TeaLeaf sessions, pulled out all sessions
during that period and looked for things that were not normal.''
As Terry Webster explained, ''You can play back the sessions just like you
were watching a VCR of somebody's browser experience. We found a part of our
site that was exposed. It allowed us to resolve that problem quickly.''
Tony Webster said that since installing the TeaLeaf tool problems that might
cause a user to abandon a transaction have been resolved in as little as two
hours. One of the best practices he recommends for TeaLeaf users is to configure
RealiTea e-mail alerts so that they go directly to the IS staffers responsible
for an app.
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Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.