The Internet opened up a world of new opportunities for businesses, allowing them to get in touch with customers around the world, explore new markets, find new suppliers, and access a wealth of knowledge. Web filtering solutions allow businesses to control internet access and monitor its use by employees and guest users, but why is web filtering in the workplace necessary, what are the benefits, and what are the risks of not filtering the internet? In this post we will explore the benefits of web filtering in the workplace.

What Exactly is a Web Filter?

You will no doubt be aware of spam filters, which are used to carefully control what emails are delivered to inboxes, blocking threats such as phishing emails and malware. Spam filters may also scan outbound email and apply controls to prevent data loss and malicious emails from being sent externally. A web filter performs a similar function for Internet access.

A web filter sits between your end users and the Internet and applies controls over the websites that can be accessed and the files that can be downloaded. The main function of a web filter is content control to restrict access to NSFW websites and block phishing websites and malware downloads.

Reasons for Web Filtering in the Workplace

There are many different reasons for web filtering in the workplace. These include:

Blocking access to inappropriate web content

Web filters are often used to prevent employees from accessing NSFW content such as pornography, images of violence, and hate speech, which can lead to the development of a hostile work environment. Businesses such as coffee shops, along with libraries and schools, use web filtering to create a family-friendly online environment and prevent minors from accessing age-inappropriate content.

Blocking online threats

Phishing attacks are now commonplace and there is a significant risk of malware being downloaded from the Internet. A web filter blocks these threats, by first preventing users from accessing known malicious websites and secondly by preventing downloads of malicious files.

Controlling bandwidth use

There will be a limited amount of bandwidth available and sometimes that bandwidth may be squeezed, resulting in considerable latency that affects all Internet users on the network. A web filter can be used to restrict bandwidth use by blocking certain online activities – video streaming for instance – ensuring sufficient bandwidth is available for all.

Improving productivity

The Internet makes slacking off very easy for employees. Business can suffer major productivity losses from employees accessing certain types of websites which serve no purpose in the workplace. A web filter can be used to block access to social media networks, dating websites, gambling and gaming sites, and video streaming services such as YouTube.

Preventing legal issues

Legal issues can arise from uncontrolled Internet use. If an employee or user of a Wi-Fi network engages in illegal activity, the business owner may be liable for their actions. For instance, illegal software, music, and video downloads from P2P file sharing networks. Web filters can also prevent data theft by blocking access to file sharing sites.

Monitoring Internet use

You may want to adopt a permissive approach and only restrict access to illegal content and malicious websites, but a web filter gives you insights into what users are doing online. This can help you to prevent and resolve HR issues and identify insider threats.

How Web Filtering in the Workplace is Achieved?

There are several ways that web filtering in the workplace can be implemented. A physical appliance can be purchased through which all Internet traffic is routed, with controls applied by a system administrator. Cloud-based web filters are now much more popular. With filtering taking place in the cloud, no equipment purchases are required.

DNS-based web filtering sees filtering take place at the DNS lookup stage of a web request, with filtering occurring without content being downloaded. Cloud-based filters that operate at the DNS level also avoid any latency issues, which can be a problem with physical appliances.

Methods of Web Filtering

There are various methods of web filtering in the workplace, with most solutions using a combination of all.

Whitelists and Blacklists

Blacklists are used to block access to specific domains and URLs, either through third-party or user-generated blacklists. Whitelists are used to always allow access to a specific URL or domain, regardless of the content filtering controls put in place.

Category Filtering

Category filtering is the easiest way of exercising content control. A web filtering solution will assign websites into categories based on the content of the website. Using a checkbox in the UI, the system administrator can select which categories of content should be blocked. Commonly blocked categories include pornography, gambling, gaming, dating, social media, news, and webmail.

Content Analysis

Web filters can perform analyses of web content to detect certain keywords and can assign a score to each URL. Thresholds can be set for individual users, departments, or the entire organization and if that threshold is exceeded, the content will not be displayed.

WebTitan Cloud: Workplace Web Filtering Made Simple

WebTitan cloud is a powerful web filtering solution that provides visibility into the online activities of users and allows controls to easily be set to control Internet access and block online threats that could threaten your business. WebTitan Cloud has been developed to be easy to set up and use, with no technical prowess required to use the solution.

Highly granular filtering controls allow precision control over the content that can be accessed, without overblocking and preventing important web content from being accessed.  The solution is DNS-based, so no equipment purchases or software downloads are necessary, and there is zero latency.

WebTitan Cloud protects on-site workers on the network, Wi-Fi users, and remote workers no matter where they access the Internet.

There is a transparent pricing policy, no optional extras, the product is extremely competitively priced, and customers benefit from industry-leading customer support.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that want to add web filtering to their service stacks benefit from many MSP-friendly features such as multiple hosting options, a brandable white-label version of the product, monthly billing, and pricing that accommodates rapidly changing numbers of seats.

To find out more about the full benefits of WebTitan Cloud, to arrange a product demonstration, or to take advantage of a free trial of the solution, give the WebTitan team a call today.