Avoid Encrypted Threats with an HTTPS Content Filter

An HTTPS content filter is Internet filtering software that checks the content of supposedly secure encrypted websites with https:// prefixes to ensure they do not harbor malware and ransomware, and that the request to visit the encrypted website complies with acceptable use policies.

Checking the content of encrypted websites is an essential part of online security these days. Whereas many years ago encryption was only used to secure the transmission of confidential data such as financial transactions, more than half of the world´s most-visited websites are now encrypted.

There are two reasons for the growth in https:// websites. Most social media portals encrypt their members´ conversations to keep them private and Google enhances the search engine results of encrypted websites. Consequently, many websites have encrypted their content for SEO purposes.

Malware-Infected Websites are Also Now Encrypted

Because the content of a website is encrypted, it does not guarantee the website is malware free. Identifying that older Internet filtering software is unable to read encrypted websites – and therefore not blocking access to the websites because they find nothing wrong with them – cybercriminals created encrypted websites and loaded them with malware, exploit kits and ransomware.

In March 2017, research by an online security company found that 99.5% of encrypted websites with the word “PayPal” in their URL harbored malware or had been created with the sole purpose of conducting a phishing campaign. Many of these websites had fake SSL Certificates, or certificates that had been issued under false pretenses, and would have avoided detection by a non-HTTPS content filter.

How an HTTPS Content Filter Works

An HTTPS content filter identifies online threats by comparing each request to visit a website against a list of websites and IP addresses known to harbor malware or from which spam emails have originated. Thereafter, the filter decrypts, reads and scans the content of the website to ensure it is policy-compliant and does not contain any hidden drive-by downloads or exploited vulnerabilities.

This process can – during times of peak Internet traffic – create network issues. Due to the strain placed on CPUs by the HTTPS content filter conducting its checks, Internet speeds can slow and some web-based applications – such as email – may be temporarily unavailable. These latency issues are not common, but important enough we felt they should be addressed.

How WebTitan Filters Overcomes Latency Issues

WebTitan offers a choice of deployment options for our HTTPS content filters – in the cloud or as a software-based “virtual appliance”. Although our cloud-based solutions, WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, conduct the SSL inspection process in the cloud, latency issues can still occur. Consequently we suggest the following for both cloud-based and software-based filtering solutions.

WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Gateway – our software-based solution – both provide a whitelisting facility. Network administrators can enter the URLs of trusted, frequently-visited websites into the whitelisting facility so they bypass the filtering process completely. With less strain on CPUs, network performance is maximized and users can access a filtered Internet service with imperceptible latency.

The Other Benefits of an HTTPS Content Filter

As well as protecting networks from web-borne threats hidden in encrypted websites, an HTTPS content filter can prevent network users from accessing inappropriate online material. In the workplace, blocking access to non-work related websites can help improve productivity, and in schools it can help educational facilities comply with state and federal laws relating to the protection of minors.

An HTTPS content filter can also be used to prevent users of a wireless network accessing online material considered not to be family-friendly. For many businesses in the hospitality industry, providing a family-friendly environment is key to being successful. An HTTPS content filter can help maintain that success by preventing users from publicly viewing online material others may take objection to.

Try a WebTitan HTTPS Content Filter for Free

WebTitan´s HTTPS content filters have been designed to be effective, versatile and easy-to-use. Network administrators can control Internet access for individual users or groups of users via a web-based management portal that integrates with Active Directory and LDAP for the speedy implementation of acceptable use policies.

The policies can be applied by time, bandwidth or IP address, so it is possible for a business with a network of WiFi hotspots to control who can access what, where and when from a centralized control center. Online activity can be monitored in real time or historically via a comprehensive reporting suite. The reports can also help businesses in regulated industries comply with risk assessment requirements.

If you would like to find out more about the effectiveness, versatility and ease-of-use of WebTitan´s HTTPS content filters, we invite you to contact us and request a free trial of WebTitan Gateway, WebTitan Cloud or WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – giving you the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of an HTTPS content filter in your own environment. You can also trial our cloud-based anti spam service to keep your inboxes spam and malware free.

Our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to answer your questions, will guide you through the registration process for your free trial and will be on hand to help you get started with your HTTPS content filter in order that you quickly find the optimum settings to protect your network from web-borne threats such as malware and ransomware hidden in encrypted websites.