A DNS Internet filtering tool is a simple and cost-effective mechanism for filtering the Internet that does not require the purchase of potentially expensive hardware or the installation of complicated software. Instead, tools for DNS filtering work by changing the Internet settings of your router so that they correspond with the DNS settings of your filtering service provider.
For all but the biggest organizations, a DNS Internet filtering tool is an appropriate solution to protect network systems from the threat of malware. It not only blocks access to websites harboring viruses and other forms of malware, but can also be used to prevent employees from pursuing non-work related online activities in violation of an acceptable Internet use policy.
The Threat of Malware is Increasing
Malware – or “malicious software” – is a genuine threat to the online security of every organization and comes in many different forms. Networks can become infected with malware due to an employee clicking on a link in a phishing email, visiting a compromised website, or simply by trying to close a virus-infected pop-up. Once downloaded, many types of malware operate without giving away their presence, and they might not be picked up by a virus scan until a whole network is infected.
Even websites with a https:// prefix can be compromised or harbor malware. Recent research conducted by Google discovered more than 800,000 websites with exploited security vulnerabilities that had been infected with malware – including some trusted and apparently secure websites. No matter how well an acceptable Internet use policy is policed, the risk exists that any employee could inadvertently download malware and nobody would know until it was too late.
Tools for DNS filtering mitigate the threat of malware by blocking access to websites known to contain malware and to those who disguise their true identity behind a proxy server. A DNS Internet filtering tool can be configured to block the download of certain types of file – typically those most likely to contain malware – and to block virus-infected pop-ups. More advanced tools for DNS filtering also have SSL inspection – a feature that decrypts the content of an encrypted https:// website, checks it against the filter´s parameters, and then re-encrypts the content to ensure it remains secure.
How Tools for DNS Filtering Mitigate the Threat of Malware
Tools for DNS filtering most commonly use a three-tier hierarchy to mitigate the threat of malware and restrict access to websites that may lead to the violation of an acceptable Internet use policy. By using three different mechanisms, a DNS Internet filtering tool achieves a high degree of “granularity” – enabling organizations to fine-tune their filtering solution by group, department and individual user, or by time.
- Blacklists are simply lists of websites identified as potentially presenting a risk of infection or as containing inappropriate content. Blacklists are created and maintained by many different Internet safety organizations, and are kept up-to-date on your DNS Internet filtering tool by your service provider.
- Category filters block access to websites that fall within specific categories predetermined by a system administrator. For example, if you wished to block access to pornography in the workplace, you would simply activate the pornography category filter.
- Keyword filters inspect requests to visit websites or web pages by keyword. Tools for DNS filtering can be configured to allow or deny access requests according to an organization´s acceptable Internet use policy and the parameter settings. Most tools for DNS filtering also have access keys in order that keyword filters can be overridden when necessary.
It is recommended that any DNS Internet filtering tool implemented by an organization should have all three mechanisms in place to provide maximum protection against online threats. Ideally, tools for DNS filtering should also have SSL inspection (described above), multi-lingual filtering and be able to block anonymizer websites in order to prevent employees circumnavigating the DNS Internet filtering tool.
Stop Non-Work Related Online Activities with a DNS Internet Filtering Tool
Non-work related online activities – such as engaging in personal social media, online shopping and watching video streaming sites – costs industry billions of dollars each year. This is because – according to 2013 research carried out on behalf of Forbes – the average employee browses the Internet for 2-3 hours per day, viewing content unrelated to their employment.
Most organizations have acceptable Internet use policies intended to prevent productivity-sapping activities, but – although a little freedom of Internet use has been shown to have a positive effect in the workplace – enforcing these policies is not always possible. A DNS Internet filtering tool can be implemented to control access to non-work related online activities, prevent “cyberslacking” and potentially increase productivity.
A DNS Internet filtering tool can also help organizations avoid HR issues and potential legal action by blocking access to pornography and other offensive material. Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment and, if an employee complains they feel intimidated by a colleague´s browsing activity – and the employer is unable to do anything about it – the employer could face legal action for failing in their duty.
DNS Internet Filtering Tool Pricing
As mentioned above, tools for DNS filtering do not require the purchase of potentially expensive hardware or the implementation of complicated software. Consequently the set up costs of a DNS Internet filtering tool are most often free. Tools for DNS filtering usually have ongoing service charges which vary according to the number of users or devices within an organization and the length of the service contract.
Typically, DNS Internet filtering tool pricing is around $15.00 per user per year. Many service providers offer discounts for multiple-year subscriptions, or allow the cost of the filtering service to be distributed throughout the year. It is advisable to check that the selected DNS Internet filtering tool has all the features required for maximum protection against malware – three-tier hierarchy, SSL inspection, multi-lingual filtering, anonymizer blocking. Remember, if an offer appears too good to be true, it usually is!
WebTitan´s Tools for DNS Filtering
WebTitan offers a choice of two DNS-based web filtering solutions – WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi. Both tools for DNS filtering are 100% compatible with any operating system or Internet-capable device, 100% scalable in the event that your organization expands or contracts, and 100% flexible in terms of the high degree of granularity they offer.
The implementation of both our enterprise-class tools for DNS filtering takes a matter of minutes, and filter parameters can easily set and adjusted remotely via a browser-based portal. Both WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi offer three-tier hierarchy, SSL inspection, multi-lingual filtering, and anonymizer blocking – with the primary difference between the two solutions being that our WiFi solution can be implemented for organizations with single WiFi access points or for those with a nationwide network of WiFi hotspots.
WebTitan for Larger Organizations and MSPs
At the beginning of this article, we stated that a DNS Internet filtering tool is an appropriate solution to protect network systems from the threat of malware for all but the largest organizations. If you are evaluating tools for DNS filtering on behalf of a large organization, please speak with us regarding WebTitan Gateway – one of the most powerful tools for DNS filtering on the market.
WebTitan Gateway is also an appropriate Internet filtering solution for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering safe Internet access to a selection of clients. WebTitan Gateway is exceptionally versatile and the ideal solution with which to manage the filtering demands of multiple clients without the need for software installations and site visits. WebTitan Gateway for MSPs is available as a white label option and with a choice of hosting options.
Speak with WebTitan about Your Filtering Requirements
At WebTitan, we believe we have a solution for every organization´s filtering requirements. Whether the most suitable solution for your specific circumstances is a DNS Internet filtering tool or a more powerful defense against the threat of malware, our solutions come with a range of APIs for backend integration, a reporting suite in order that administrators can monitor user activity and ensure compliance with acceptable Internet use policies, and industry-leading technical and customer support.
You can find out more about WebTitan´s tools for DNS filtering and WebTitan Gateway by contacting us and discussing your filtering requirements with one of our sales engineers. Please remember that you are invited to take advantage of our thirty-day free trial without obligation to try our solutions out and decide whether they provide the flexibility and protection your organization needs to safeguard against the increasing threat of malware.