Content based filtering for business is often regarded as a secondary function of an Internet filter after protecting business networks from malware and ransomware, yet it plays an important role in the efficient day-to-day running of businesses and has significant commercial benefits.
The objective of content based filtering is to block access to specific online content considered to be unproductive, offensive or illegal. This objective is achieved by applying category and keyword filters in order to enforce user policies and prevent network users accessing prohibited online material.
Typically, businesses will block access to social media portals and pornography websites to enhance productivity, block access to websites promoting racial intolerance and discrimination to avoid employees being exposed to offensive content, and block access to online gambling and file sharing websites to prevent illegal activity. However, there are many more that should be considered.
Content Based Filtering to Enhance Productivity
Although employee times spent on social media portals and pornography websites are acknowledged as the most significant abuses of Internet privileges in the workplace, there are many other categories of website that employers should block to enhance productivity and – surprisingly in some cases – enhance their online security.
Whenever possible, cybercriminals will plant drive-by downloads and exploit kits in the most visited websites. Therefore content based filtering should be applied to prevent network users visiting websites selling pharmaceutical products online, flight booking websites and insurance comparison websites – particularly insurance comparison websites, as these often contain exploitable third party advertising.
Exceptions can be made for individuals or user groups in specific circumstances. For example, a PA to a CEO may need to access flight booking websites on a regular basis. The content based filtering solution can either be configured to create a separate user policy for the PA or specific flight booking websites can be whitelisted so they bypass the filtering parameters.
Content Based Filtering to Avoid Legal Risk
Preventing exposure to offensive content and illegal activity both come under the heading of avoiding legal risk from a business´s perspective. Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe environment in which to work and, if an employee is exposed to online content they find offensive – and the employer fails to address the situation – employers can be found guilty of being in breach of their duty of care.
Similarly, if an employee is engaging in illegal activities via a business´s network, and the business – aware of the employee´s activities – fails to prevent it, the business could be found guilty of facilitating the illegal activity. An example of such a legal risk is when employees use a business network to illegally download copyrighted films – something that is easy to prevent with content based filtering.
The category filters in an Internet filter cover a multitude of scenarios. There are fifty-three preconfigured category filters in WebTitan´s Internet filters – ranging from abortion to web proxies – into which more than two million websites are sorted according to their subject matter. Each category can be blocked with the click of a mouse from our web-based management portal.
The Commercial Benefits of Content Based Filtering
The primary commercial benefits of content based filtering are not difficult to explain. It has been calculated that a business with a thousand employees would lose $35 million in productivity each year if every employee spent one hour each day in non-work related online activities. That is quite a significant loss, but one which is easy to resolve with content based filtering.
Being able to avoid legal risk is naturally a commercial benefit of content based filtering, as well as saving the cost of recovering from a malware infection. But there is one further commercial benefit that is not often mentioned in articles about online security, and this benefit would apply to any business in the hospitality or retail industries providing a publicly-accessible WiFi service.
WebTitan´s Internet filters have a suite of reporting options that can anonymously reveal the browsing habits of network users. This data is typically used to compile risk assessments and adjust user policies as necessary; but, in a hospitality or retail environment, this data can be used to tailor marketing activities towards network users in order to attract repeat – and possibly new – clients.
Our Invitation to Try Content Based Filtering for Free
If you are looking for an Internet filter with the ability to prevent network users accessing unproductive, offensive or illegal Internet content, you are invited to contact us and request a free trial of a WebTitan Internet filter. Our Internet filters have a choice of deployment options, and our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to answer your questions and discuss the options with you.
We also welcome enquiries from Managed Service Provider looking for a multi-tenanted content based filtering solution. Our free trial offer provides you with the opportunity to evaluate our the most appropriate WebTitan Internet filter for your specific needs and to obtain feedback from your clients about the effectiveness of WebTitan in helping enforce acceptable use policies in addition to protecting their networks from malware and ransomware. You can also trial our anti-spam software solution – SpamTitan – to keep your inboxes free from spam and malicious emails.