Why an HTTPS Web Filter is Essential These Days

An HTTPS web filter is an Internet filtering solution that inspects the content of encrypted websites. It is an essential part of online security these days because – unlike many years ago when encryption was only used to secure online financial transactions – the majority of world´s most-visited web pages are now encrypted.

The reason for this explosion in encryption is two-fold. Many social media websites decided encryption was necessary in order to keep their members´ conversations private. Google subsequently announced it would enhance the SERPs rankings of encrypted websites – resulting in many websites adopting encryption for SEO purposes.

Cybercriminals Also Get in on the Act

Because the contents of a web page are encrypted, it does not necessarily mean the web page is free from malware and ransomware. Cybercriminals identified that many older Internet filtering solutions did not have SSL inspection – the function of an HTTPS web filter that decrypts, reads and re-encrypts the content of a web page.

Cybercriminals used this knowledge to create encrypted websites harboring malware and ransomware that would bypass any filter lacking SSL inspection. This effectively gave their malware-infested websites a better chance of deploying their malware downloads and, in March 2017, one online security company identified that 99.5% of websites with the word “PayPal” in their URL were phishing websites.

Other Benefits of an HTTPS Web Filter

In addition to being able to detect encrypted websites harboring malware and ransomware, an HTTPS web filter can help improve productivity in the workplace. It does this by preventing employees from visiting encrypted social media websites and other encrypted online destinations that could be used for “cyberslacking” – responsible for a loss in productivity of up to 40% according to one study.

Both inside and outside of a business environment, an HTTPS web filter can also help prevent the exposure of inappropriate online material to those who would find it offensive. In a business environment, an HTTPS web filter can prevent HR issues from developing; while, in a public venue such as a hotel or restaurant, the filter can be configured to deliver a more family-friendly environment.

Known Issues with SSL Inspection

SSL inspection is not a “perfect” solution for identifying malware and ransomware because it is a point-to-point solution rather than an end-to-end solution. This means that communications between the encrypted website and end user could be hijacked if a “man-in-the-middle” cybercriminal has access to the public encryption key at specific points in the conversation.

It is also the case – particularly during times of peak Internet use – that the process of decrypting, reading and re-encrypting places a significant demand on CPU resources. This can result in slow Internet speeds and the temporary unavailability of web-based applications such as email and Instant Messenger. In a business environment, this would also affect productivity.

WebTitan Internet Filtering Solutions Overcome these Issues

WebTitan has been developing online security solutions since 2009 and, in that time, we have helped hundreds of organizations around the world protect their businesses from malware and ransomware, increase productivity and eliminate the risk of employees, guests, customers and students being exposed to inappropriate online material.

Naturally we are aware of the known issues with SSL inspection and have developed our HTTPS web filters to include malicious URL detection and phishing protection to mitigate the risk of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. We have also developed two very different methods of dealing with the latency issue caused by the SSL inspection process draining CPU resources:

  • WebTitan Gateway is a software-based Internet filtering solution with SSL inspection that is installed behind the firewall as a virtual appliance. It includes a whitelisting feature that allows trusted websites to bypass the filtering mechanism. This means encrypted business-critical websites are instantly accessible to users, while the reduced load on the CPU ensures other web-based applications are accessed with imperceptible latency.
  • WebTitan Cloud is an equally powerful cloud-based Internet filtering solution with SSL inspection that is controlled at the organization´s administrator level, but which does its filtering on our servers. This completely eliminates the drain on CPU resources at organization level and ensures a latency-free filtered Internet service. We also offer WebTitan Cloud for WiFi as an option for organizations providing a wireless Internet service.

Each HTTPS web filter uses a three-tier filtering process for maximum granularity and includes dual anti-virus engines provided by AV Clam and Bitdefender. All the software used in the Internet filtering solutions is updated by us in real time and we also update the fifty-three filtering categories (abortion, adult entertainment, alternative beliefs, alcohol, etc.) as new web pages are published.

We have tried to make our HTTPS web filters as easy-to-use, as versatile and as effective as possible. Via a central web-based portal, administrators can set the filtering parameters by user, user-group, or organization-wide, and web activity can be viewed in real time or historically via a comprehensive reporting suite. The reports can also assist with risk assessments in regulated industries.

Each of our Internet filtering solutions is universally compatible with all operating systems and networks. They take just minutes to set up, and each HTTPS web filter has an auto-configuration feature for quick implementation. We also provide larger organizations of up to 60,000 users with the option of integrating their HTTPS web filter with Active Directory or LDAP to import employee roles quickly.

Try a WebTitan HTTPS Web Filter for Free

If you would like to protect your business from malware and ransomware hidden in encrypted websites, prevent employees from visiting encrypted online destinations that could be used for “cyberslacking”, and eliminate the risk of employees, guests, customers and students being exposed to inappropriate online material, we invite you to contact us and request a free trail of a WebTitan HTTPS web filter.

Our industry-leading team of Sales Technicians will discuss your requirements with you so you can trial the most appropriate of our Internet filtering solutions. They will also answer any questions you have about Internet filtering solutions, provide any support you need to get your selected HTTPS web filter up and running and guide you through any issues you encounter during your trial.

If, at the end of your free trial, you would like to continue using our service, we provide a range of competitive subscription packages based on the number of users and devices you want to protect, your preferred deployment option and your preferred payment cycle. To find out more, or to start your free trial, contact us today.

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