An Internet web filter is an important element of a cybersecurity policy. It prevents web users visiting websites harboring malware and ransomware, and inadvertently exposing the business, the network or the users themselves to online threats. An Internet web filter has other benefits as well. In a business environment it can prevent cyberslacking and enhance productivity; while, in places of public Internet access, it can prevent customers, guests and minors from being exposed to inappropriate content.
However, in order to be fully effective, an Internet web filter has to be easy to use. There have been cases in the past where the complexity of the filter settings has resulted in system administrators setting the filtering parameters too stringently – preventing users from accessing important online material – or relaxing them too much, with the result that gateways are left open for cybercriminals to enter and deploy malware or ransomware without detection.
The Key Features of an Internet Web Filter to Look For
In order to determine which the most appropriate Internet web filter for your business is, it is recommended that you take advantage of vendors offering a free trial of their product. As there are many vendors offering free trials, you can narrow down the field by looking out for the three key features every Internet web filter should have. In no particular order, the three key features are flexibility, whitelisting and ease-of-use.
The flexibility of an Internet Web Filter can be gauged by the mechanisms used to filter Internet content. Usually these consist of:
- Blacklists and URIBL/SURBL filters that prevent users visiting websites known to harbor malware or IP addresses associated with phishing emails and ransomware attacks.
- Category filters that allow system administrators to block access to certain types of website category known to be high risk or likely to be responsible for cyberslacking.
- Keyword filters can be used to fine-tune the category filters to prevent access to websites containing specific words or to file downloads with specific extensions.
Whitelisting is a process that allows trusted websites to bypass the filtering process. In a business environment, whitelisting can be used to allow unfiltered access to specific websites, web pages or web applications to reduce the strain placed on the server by the SSL inspection process and reduce latency. We suggest that businesses using the whitelisting process to any great degree also ensure their Internet web filter has malicious URL detection and phishing protection in case any whitelisted websites are subsequently hacked and compromised by cybercriminals.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a key feature for the reasons given above – i.e. if a system administrator finds the controls too complex to use, the filtering parameters will not be applied to their optimal settings. For this reason, we suggest businesses look for an Internet web filter with a simple web-based management portal, through which the filtering parameters can be set or adjusted with the click of a mouse. Larger businesses should also consider an Internet web filter with LDAP/Active Directory integration for the easy application of acceptable use policies.
The Cost of Filtering the Internet
The cost of filtering the Internet varies according to the deployment option chosen. Hardware-based web filters for example have a high capital cost and, depending on the number of users each hardware-based solution can support, could have a high maintenance overhead. Software-based filters are typically less expensive and, depending on the level of service provided by the software vendor, may or may not require frequent updates. Cloud-based filters are usually the easiest to deploy, require minimal maintenance and are paid for by a monthly or annual subscription.
Regardless of the cost of filtering the Internet, the cost of not implementing an Internet web filter can be substantial. Businesses that have been the victims of a successful malware or ransomware attack spend many times the cost of filtering the Internet to recover data and clear their networks of any infection. Even businesses who have avoided being victims of a malware or ransomware attack can recover the cost of filtering the Internet by the extra productivity they will gain, while businesses providing public Internet access will benefit commercially from offering a family-friendly service.
Internet Filtering Options from WebTitan
WebTitan offers businesses a choice of Internet filtering options that have a flexible three-tier filtering mechanism, offer a whitelisting facility with malicious URL detection and phishing protection, and that are easy to use – with LDAP/Active Directory integration if required. Each of our solutions is universally compatible with hardware-based and virtual networks, and scalable up to 60,000 users without limitations on bandwidth or the number of devices that can connect to the filtering solution.
WebTitan Gateway is a powerful software-based Internet web filter that is installed as virtual appliance behind your firewall. WebTitan Gateway provides real-time monitoring of web activity on your network and suite of reporting options that can help identify trends in web use, enforce acceptable user policies and further protect your network against malware and ransomware.
WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-based filtering solution that simply requires a redirection of the DNS server´s systems settings to implement. With its auto-configuration feature and point-and-click filter settings, WebTitan Cloud can be mitigating threats from malware and ransomware, increasing productivity and preventing exposure to inappropriate content within minutes.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi provides the same depth of protection as WebTitan Gateway and WebTitan Cloud, but has been specifically designed for wireless networks. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi supports dynamic and static IP addresses and is therefore suitable for both single WiFi access points and nationwide networks of WiFi hotspots.
Try an Internet Web Filter from WebTitan for Free
As was mentioned above, it is recommended you take advantage of any free trial opportunity to evaluate the merits of an Internet web filter in your own environment. In this respect we invite you to try a WebTitan Internet filtering solution for free for fourteen days once you have discussed your requirements with one of our friendly Sales Technicians in order to determine which deployment is most suitable for your requirements.
To find out more about this opportunity, or to ask any questions about your Internet filtering options, do not hesitate to contact us today. Our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to answer your questions, assist with the set-up of your free account and guide you through the configuration process so that you can be mitigating threats from malware and ransomware, increasing productivity and preventing exposure to inappropriate content within fifteen minutes.