A network web filter is an Internet filtering solution that protects a whole network from web-borne threats, as opposed to Internet filtering solutions that involve installing clients on each individual device connected to the network. It has the advantage of being able to protect the whole network from one single administration portal, even if the network provides a service for multiple locations.
Not only does a network web filter protect the network from web-borne threats, it also allows for network administrators to apply acceptable use policies to network users. Depending on the flexibility of the solution, network administrators should be able to apply different acceptable use policies to individual users, user groups and network-wide.
How a Network Web Filter Protects Networks
A network web filter protects networks by blocking access to any website known to harbor malware, any website that hides its true identity behind a proxy server or the whois privacy feature, and any website that shares its IP address with a known source of spam email. It does this through a series of blacklists, SURBL and URIBL filters that are updated in real time.
The network web filter also uses a process known as SSL inspection to examine the content of encrypted websites. The process de-crypts “secure” web pages so they can be scanned by anti-virus software, before re-encrypting them to ensure the integrity of communications between network users and the encrypted websites.
From the single administration portal, network administrators can view real-time web activity or schedule reports on historical web activity. This data can be used to identify unusual activity on the network – for example web traffic passing through non-standard ports – to further protect the network from web-borne threats such as malware and ransomware.
Applying User Policies to Control Internet Access
As well as blocking access to unsafe websites, a network web filter can be used to block access to websites considered inappropriate. For example, in an office environment, it would be inappropriate for network users to visit websites containing pornographic image, online gambling websites and websites promoting racial intolerance.
Network administrators can block access to inappropriate websites using a series of mechanisms – the simplest being category filters. Network web filters sort billions of web pages into categories depending on their content (adult entertainment, gambling, social media, etc.). Access to these categories can be blocked with the click of a mouse via the administration portal.
Alternatively, network administrators can use keyword filters and bandwidth-limiting mechanisms to control access to specific Internet content. The filters and mechanisms can be applied by time (i.e. during office hours) or – as mentioned above – by individual user, user group and network-wide. Exceptions to the filtering parameters can be created using whitelists, and “cloud keys” exist to completely override the filtering parameters.
The Benefits of Implementing a Network Web Filter
The primary benefit of implementing a network web filter is the increased protection against malware, ransomware and phishing attacks. If a network is infected by malware, suffers a data loss due to ransomware, or a financial loss due to a successfully-executed phishing attack, the consequences can be devastating. Many small organizations have had to close following these events.
Other benefits include increased workplace productivity, the avoidance of HR issues and – when a WiFi network is publicly-accessible- a safer browsing environment for customers, guests and visitors. Starbucks and McDonalds have both implemented network filtering solutions to make their retail establishments safer and more family-friendly with positive results.
Reports on historical web activity can be used by businesses in the hospitality industry to create marketing promotions tailored towards their customers´ interests, while network filtering solutions can help businesses in regulated industries comply with privacy and security legislation. Additionally, the implementation of a network web filter can qualify schools for grants and E-rate discounts.
Effective Network Filtering Solutions from WebTitan
WebTitan´s range of network filtering solutions has been developed to provide maximum network protection and Internet access control, but with ease of use as an additional priority. We believe if a network web filter is too complicated to use, either the filtering parameters may be set too stringently, or gaps will be left in network defenses allowing cybercriminals to deploy their malicious payloads.
Each of our network filtering solutions can be implemented within minutes, either as a virtual appliance behind the network firewall or with a redirection of the DNS server settings. The software driving our network filtering solutions is update automatically, has an auto back-up and restore feature, and a policy violation alert system to warn network administrators of potential breaches in user policies.
If you would like to find out more about our network filtering solutions, you are invited to contact us and request a free trial of whichever network web filter is most appropriate for your needs. Our team of experienced Sales Technicians will be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you through the registration process to start your free trial today.