The increase in hybrid working has created security risks. In this article, we explain how a business web filter can reduce those risks by improving protection against malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks and by providing IT teams with visibility into the online activities of at-home workers.
The Pandemic and Remote Working
During the pandemic, government restrictions were in force that required businesses to adopt work from home policies and many businesses discovered that having a largely remote workforce had certain advantages. While getting the IT infrastructure in place to support remote working may have been a challenge, now that infrastructure has been set up, the benefits can be fully realized. Businesses can save on costs, have greater workforce flexibility, and can recruit talent from a much wider area – globally. Many employees relish working from home as it has allowed them to avoid lengthy commutes, eliminate the cost of travel, and working from home has helped them achieve a better work-life balance. In many cases, businesses have seen an increase in employee productivity.
There are some negatives for businesses, the biggest of which is security. IT teams know how to secure their on-premises infrastructure and have better visibility into the actions of employees when they are in the office. The remote connectivity and infrastructure to support a remote workforce introduce risks that need to be managed. Hackers are targeting cloud services, VPNs, and Windows RDP, home networks and personal devices are less secure than on-premises networks and devices, and phishing at-home employees is easier. There was a major increase in ransomware and phishing attacks during the pandemic, as hackers targeted these vulnerabilities.
Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, businesses and employees alike are keen to retain the benefits of at-home working, with many choosing to continue to operate under a hybrid working model, where employees spend some of the working week at home and some time in the office. So how can businesses operate under the hybrid model securely? One of the most effective cybersecurity controls to implement is a business web filter.
What Does a Business Web Filter Do?
A business web filter in many respects is like parental control software, allowing businesses to restrict what employees can do over the Internet on their work devices. Businesses can develop acceptable Internet usage policies, but that is all they are – policies. Policies can be followed by employees, but they can also be ignored. The problem is when policies are ignored, employees put corporate security at risk. Personal internet use on a work computer can open the door to hackers and can result in a malware download. With hybrid working, the boundaries between work and personal life blur, and it is all too easy for employees to switch from work to personal activities without changing devices. A business web filter allows businesses to enforce their acceptable usage policies and restrict the online activities of employees on their work devices.
A business web filter allows businesses to block Internet content by category, such as social media sites for example. Blocking these sites can improve productivity, but also improve security. During the pandemic, the number of cyberattacks that occurred via social media increased. A business web filter also allows businesses to restrict the file types that can be downloaded via the Internet. Executable files are used to install malware, and controls can be implemented to prevent these files from being downloaded. This also serves as a protection against shadow IT – downloads of software that has not been authorized by the IT department.
A business web filter is fed threat intelligence and will be updated with malicious IPs as soon as they are discovered, preventing all users from accessing known malicious websites. The IT team will also have visibility into the web content that every remote worker is accessing in real-time. Web filters can also identify and block command-and-control callbacks by malware and will alert security teams about infected devices.
Why a DNS-based Business Web Filter is Recommended
DNS-based web filtering uses the Domain Name System to exercise content control and block malicious websites. The DNS is a system used for finding web content. Any time a web request is made, the IP address associated with that web resource must be found, which is what the DNS is used for. Before any content can be loaded the IP address must be found, so a DNS lookup is performed by sending a DNS query to a specialized web server called a DNS responder. That process ends with the IP address being provided to the browser and the web content being loaded.
A DNS-based web filter performs filtering at this stage of a web request and will not return the IP address of the requested web resource if it is on a block list or otherwise, violates administrator-set policies. That means filtering takes place and malicious content is blocked without any content being downloaded. DNS filtering is also quick – there is virtually zero latency, so page load speeds are unaffected. DNS-based web filters are provided as a cloud-delivered service, so no hardware is required and all updates to the solution are handled by the service provider.
Introducing WebTitan Cloud – TitanHQ’s DNS-based Business Web Filter
WebTitan Cloud is TitanHQ’s award-winning business web filter, which is delivered as a cloud-based service (There is an option to have a gateway version that is delivered as a virtual appliance). WebTitan Cloud is ideal for protecting a remote workforce, as the service ensures filtering controls are applied no matter where an employee accesses the Internet via a downloaded WebTitan On-the-Go agent. At home or on public Wi-Fi networks, content control and malicious site blocking will be in force.
WebTitan is an advanced web filter that protects against HTTP and HTTPS security threats. The solution is fed threat intelligence from a global network of more than 500 million endpoints, so when a threat is encountered on that network, the intelligence feed will ensure that all devices worldwide are protected within a few minutes.
WebTitan Cloud is intuitive and allows precision controls over web content for individuals, user groups, locations, and organization-wide, and provides IT teams with full visibility into the content that users are accessing, including real-time views. WebTitan is also a multi-tenant web content filtering and protection solution for Wi-Fi Providers and MSPs.
WebTitan Cloud is quick and easy to set up. You can be protecting your organization and exercising content control in minutes. We recommend taking advantage of the 14-day free trial of the full solution to see for yourself the difference it makes and how easy it is to set up and use. If you have any questions, give the TitanHQ team a call today.