Web Filtering Solutions
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WebTitan Web Content Filtering Solutions
There are many benefits to be gained from implementing a web content filtering solution, although recently it has been the rise in cyber-attacks and cyber threats that has prompted many organizations to implement a web content filter solution to improve their security posture.
Anti-virus software vendors reported a massive increase in malware variants in 2015. Over 1 million new samples of malware are now being released every day. Ransomware attacks have also skyrocketed over the past year as cybercriminal gangs attempt to extort companies and hold their data and systems to ransom. The current threat level makes a website filtering solution less of an option and more of a necessity.
Web filtering is not only about keeping networks and computers protected from Internet threats. By carefully controlling access to the Internet, organizations can prevent Internet abuse by employees. By limiting Internet use to work-related webpages, organizations can reduce legal risk, manage bandwidth more effectively, and improve the productivity of the workforce.
The benefits of using a website content filter solution are clear, but what is the best web content filtering solution to use? This article explores some of the main features to look for in a web content filtering solution, the options available, and important considerations that will help organizations choose the best web content filtering solution for their needs.
Website Filtering Solution Architecture
Website filtering solution architecture can be divided into three separate categories: Client, server, and gateway solutions. We have summarized the different web content filtering solution architecture choices below:
Client-Based Web Content Filtering Solution
A client-based web content filter solution resides on individual computers. The main advantage to this solution is the low initial cost, as hardware does not need to be purchased to run this solution. However, there are a number of disadvantages. The website content filter solution must be installed on each machine individually and users must download updates to the web-filtering database. Installation and maintenance can take a considerable amount of a system administrator’s time and end users could disable the filter or alter settings and bypass filtering controls.
Server-Based Web Content Filtering Solution
A server-based web content filter solution is a much more practical solution, as software does not need to be downloaded onto individual devices. This type of website filtering solution architecture is also much easier to manage and maintain as users will not need to download updates. However, a server-based web content filter solution may require two dedicated hardware devices; one for the software as well as a dedicated server/firewall.
Gateway-Based Web Content Filtering Solution
A gateway-based web content filter solution is the next step up from a server-based web content filter solution. There are two options in this category. A dedicated appliance can be purchased or a web content filter solution can be installed as a software appliance on existing hardware. The latter is often the best choice for small to medium-sized businesses as the cost of a hardware appliance can be considerable. Provided the solution synchs with Active Directory/LDAP/Novell eDirectory, the web filter can be easily configured for different user groups.
Cloud-Based Web Content Filtering Solution
A cloud-based web content filter solution is also a good choice for small to medium-sized businesses. This solution is also the quickest and easiest to implement. A 100% cloud-based website filtering solution requires no software downloads and no hardware purchases. Installation just requires the DNS to be pointed to the provider’s servers. Controls can be set using a web-based interface from any location and acceptable usage policies can be quickly and easily applied for multiple domains.
Since this website filtering solution can be configured remotely without any on premise support, this option is also the best website filtering solution for managed service providers looking to add Internet filtering to their client offerings.
Website Filtering Solution Features
When searching for a suitable website filtering solution, the choice can be overwhelming. Website filtering solution features are numerous, although the most important features have been listed below. Make sure your chosen solution has the following features and you can prevent a number of common management headaches.
Easy Management and Maintenance
A website content filter solution should allow acceptable usage policies (AUPs) to be quickly and easily implemented with low management overhead. To reduce the cost of maintenance, look for a solution that allows standard administrative functions to be delegated.
A web-based interface will allow web filter settings to be applied from any location, rather than having to visit specific locations to change AUPs and perform updates.
Protecting networks from web-borne threats on English language websites is essential, but a website content filter solution should also be able to cope with websites in other languages.
Filtering the Internet does not need to have an impact on Internet speed. Look for a website content filter solution that has no (or minimal) latency.
Highly Granular Controls
Even if you only need a basic web filter, choosing a web content filtering solution with a high degree of granularity will ensure that changes to AUPs can be easily applied. Redundancy will ensure that your solution adapts as the needs of your business change.
Time-Based Content Filtering Controls
Blocking Internet content can improve productivity, but do you need prevent personal Internet use 100% of the time. Time-based filters will allow certain sites to be accessed by employees outside of working hours or during specific times of the day if required.
Updating software and definitions can take a considerable amount of time. Automatic updates will allow IT staff to concentrate on business-critical issues.
Active Directory / LDAP / Novell eDirectory Integration
Integration with AD, LDAP and eDirectory will make it much easier to apply web filtering settings for different user groups and apply separate controls for business departments.
The ability to schedule reports can save a considerable amount of time and money, and is especially useful when providing web filtering as-a-service to clients. Many solutions allow reports to be generated in different formats for individual clients and department heads.
Superb Customer Support
At times you may find you need a helping hand to configure web filtering settings, incorporate new hotspots, and integrate the solution with new systems. Look for a solution provider that offers excellent customer service to prevent minor issues from becoming major headaches.
White Label Options
If you are an MSP or ISP and want to offer web filtering-as-a-service to your clients, a white label web content filter solution is essential. The option of hosting a web content filter solution within your own infrastructure can also be advantageous.
Web Content Filtering Solution Pricing
The total cost of a web content filtering solution depends on many factors, although the main determinants are the number of users that will require simultaneous access, the number of TCP/IP connections needed, whether any additional hardware must be purchased, and the man hours required to manage the solution.
Web content filtering solution pricing is usually based on the number of users over a fixed term – 12 months for example. Rather than paying the entire cost up front, look for a service provider that allows the cost to be spread out. Monthly payments can make a web content filtering solution more affordable and easier to incorporate into IT department budgets.
Many web content filtering solution providers offer substantial discounts if a solution is taken over a longer term than 12 months.
Web Content Filter Solution Cost Comparison
Small to medium-sized businesses may balk at the cost of implementing, managing, and maintaining a web content filtering solution. The cost may seem high, but not when compared to the costs that can be incurred if the Internet is not filtered.
Malware and ransomware infections can cost many thousands of dollars to resolve. An infection could result in data being deleted or stolen, network infrastructure can be damaged, and attackers may encrypt data and demand a ransom. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center recently had to pay $17,000 to obtain the security keys to unlock a ransomware infection. The cost of a web content filter solution is small in comparison to the potential cost of resolving malware/ransomware infections.
The accessing of pornography in the workplace can lead to the development of a hostile working environment. Employees have taken their employers to court over fellow employees accessing pornography at work. Use of the Internet for illegal activity such copyright-infringing downloads can also land a company in legal hot water. HR and legal issues arising from inappropriate Internet use can be considerable.
What is the Best Web Content Filtering Solution for MSPs
Finding a web content filter solution can be a challenge for an individual business, but for managed service providers it can be more difficult to find a suitable solution that can be easily incorporated into product and service offerings. An appliance-based web content filter solution is impractical as installation and maintenance requires the use of local IT support. Software solutions similarly require support staff to visit clients’ premises to complete the installation.
The best web content filtering solution for MSPs uses a cloud-based infrastructure. 100% cloud-based web filters require no software installations and can be easily configured by the MSP without the need for site visits. All that is required is to talk clients through changing their DNS to point to the solution provider’s servers.
For seamless integration into existing packages and service portfolios MSPs should look for a cloud-based web content filter solution that is provided as a white label. The ability to delegate administration options is also advantageous, as some clients may prefer to administer their own web filtering settings.
What is the Top Website Content Filter Solution for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses?
The top website content filter solution will depend on a number of different factors such as the number of users, the level of Internet control required, the ease of management, and the cost of implementation.
The top website content filter solution should be flexible, scalable, cost effective, easy to configure and maintain, and not require the purchase of expensive hardware.
Many organizations find WebTitan Internet filtering solutions tick all the right boxes. The WebTitan suite of Internet filtering solutions are cost effective to implement and maintain, can be applied to cover wired and Wi-Fi networks, and are highly scalable.
The WebTitan Suite of Web Filtering Solutions
WebTitan has been developed to make Internet content control as easy as possible. Whether you want to control the content that can be accessed via your wired and wireless networks, protect your network and devices from malware, or incorporate web filtering-as-a-service into your company’s product offerings, we have an ideal solution to match your company’s needs.
WebTitan is offered as:
WebTitan Gateway is our most powerful product offering the best protection against malware, ransomware, and web-borne threats. WebTitan Gateway requires no additional hardware purchases and can be run on your own hardware or within a virtual infrastructure.
WebTitan Cloud offers the maximum in convenience. Our DNS-based web filtering solution can be implemented in minutes. Simply login, add your IP address, and redirect your DNS to our servers. There is no need for any software downloads or clients, and you can apply yours and your clients’ Internet policies from any location.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi offers the convenience of WebTitan Cloud and will protect Wi-Fi hotspots and the devices that connect to them. No matter how small or large your Wi-Fi network, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is the ideal choice. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi supports dynamic and static IPs, and allows fast Internet access with virtually no latency.
WebTitan web filtering solution benefits:
- Excellent scalability
- No additional hardware required
- No bandwidth restrictions
- No limit on the number of devices
- No technical skill required to configure web filtering settings
- All solutions can be installed quickly and easily and have a low management overhead
- APIs are supplied for easy integration with back-office systems
- Granular controls allow AUPs to be implemented quickly
- Include a full suite of automated reports
- Offer time-based web-filtering controls
- Category-based content filtering makes for easy content filtering
- Whitelist and blacklists supported
- White-labels for MSPs and resellers with a range of hosting options