A URL content filtering service mitigates the risk to your wired and wireless networks from online infections by restricting access to websites and file types likely to contain malware. The same mechanisms used to protect your computer networks can also improve workplace productivity and eliminate bandwidth issues by blocking access to websites likely to distract employees and use up a significant amount of bandwidth.
Mitigate the Risk from Online Infections with a URL Content Filtering Service
A URL content filtering service is an essential part of an organization´s defenses against online infections. A URL filtering service prevents Internet users from visiting websites known to harbor malware and from downloading files likely to contain infections. By controlling what websites an Internet user can visit – and what files they can download – a URL content filtering service helps mitigate the risk from online infections.
Services for filtering URL content work by comparing each request to visit a website against pre-installed blacklists of known unsafe websites, category filters and keyword filters. If the requested website appears on a blacklist or contains content blocked by the filters, access to the website is denied. A similar process occurs when an Internet user attempts to follow a link through to another website or download a file.
For maximum protection against online infections, a URL filtering service should have an SSL inspection feature. This feature decrypts “secure” websites – those with an https:// prefix and SSL certificate – and inspects the content to ensure it is malware-free, before re-encrypting the website for secure transmission. Unfortunately, an SSL certificate is no longer a guarantee that a website is malware-free due to so many apparently “safe” websites having security vulnerabilities.
How Services for Filtering URL Content Can Improve Workplace Productivity
“Cyberslacking” costs industry billions of dollars every year in lost productivity, and surveys have shown the average employee uses the Internet for non-work related activities for up to two hours a day. Although some permitted personal use of the Internet is suggested to have a positive impact on workplace productivity, some employees take the relaxation of acceptable use policies a little too far – often causing resentment among colleagues and potential HR issues.
The same mechanisms used to mitigate the risk from online infections can be used to limit access to productivity-sapping websites such as online shopping portals, social media sites and pornographic websites. Indeed, access to pornography at work has been the motivation behind several lawsuits brought by employees who claim their employer is failing to provide them with a safe working environment. By filtering URLs to block access to inappropriate content, it is possible to prevent this scenario from occurring.
Services for filtering URL content have reporting features that enable administrators to monitor compliance with acceptable use policies. Due to the ability to set filtering parameters by user, by user-group or by time, administrators can set and adjust the parameters as necessary to ensure that employees are not circumnavigating the URL content filtering service or exploiting any relaxation of acceptable use policies for excessive personal use of the Internet.
Eliminate Bandwidth Limitation Issues with a URL Filtering Service
A further benefit of implementing a URL filtering service is the elimination of bandwidth limitation issues. Few organizations have access to unlimited bandwidth and, during periods of high Internet use, those without an unlimited service can experience bandwidth limitation issues. Due to these issues some employees may experience delays when attempting to access the Internet or their emails – decreasing workplace productivity.
Organizations experiencing these issues have the options of paying for more bandwidth or reducing bandwidth wastage. The majority of bandwidth wastage in the workplace is the result of Internet users accessing video streaming websites, visiting websites with constant video ads, or using bandwidth-heavy web applications. By restricting access to video streaming websites, and by blocking ads and bandwidth-heavy web applications, organizations can avoid the need to purchase additional bandwidth and make sure that adequate bandwidth is available at all times.
As mentioned above, services for filtering URL content have user, user-group and time-based controls. This means that departments needing access to video streaming sites and/or bandwidth-heavy web applications can be excluded from the general access restrictions imposed by an administrator – even if access is still restricted during certain times of the day. This level of flexibility ensures that an organization can run on maximum efficiency without paying for an over-capacity of bandwidth.
Further Advantages of URL Filtering for the Retail Industry
If your organization is engaged in the retail industry, you will understand that customers often decide on where to shop, eat or congregate based on the availability of a free Internet service. With an Internet service, your customers can stay in touch with their friends, family or office while enjoying some leisure time. However, providing a free, but unprotected, Internet service can lead to problems.
Inasmuch as a free Internet service can attract customers to your business, you are just as likely to lose them again if their devices are infected with viruses while using your unprotected service. Similarly, if some customers are openly viewing pornography or other objectionable material through your free Internet service, this is also likely to have a detrimental effect on the repeat business of other customers and – as word gets around – of new customers.
A URL content filtering service can prevent both of these scenarios, and the Internet usage reports generated by the service can also give you an insight into your customers´ browsing habits. With this information, your organization can implement targeted marketing campaigns to increase sales from your existing customers and potentially attract new business from your competitors.
Evaluating Services for Filtering URL Content
Not all services for filtering URL content are the same – particularly when it comes to URL filtering service pricing. Hardware-based services for filtering URL content can have a considerable initial capital requirement, whereas a software based URL content filtering service will likely have a minimal initial expense and then an ongoing subscription for the service.
URL filtering service pricing aside, there are three key elements of a URL content filtering service you should look for when evaluating services for filtering ULR content:
In order to avoid implementing a URL content filtering service that lacks compatibility with existing hardware or software, only evaluate universally-compatible services. These work by a simple redirection of the router´s DNS and save organization´s having to invest money in expensive hardware or the resources of an IT department to maintain complicated software.
It is important for organizations to consider where they may be in years to come. Many services for filtering URLs lack scalability. Choosing a URL filtering service that matches your current requirements, and that also has the scalability to expand or contract with your organization, will save time and money in the future.
The mechanisms of a URL filtering service have already been mentioned – blacklists, category filters and keyword filters – but are worth mentioning again. These three mechanisms provide the high level of granularity that enables flexible filtering parameters to be set and adjusted as necessary. SSL inspection and multi-lingual filtering are also important factors when evaluating services for filtering URL content.
Speak with WebTitan about our URL Content Filtering Service
WebTitan Cloud is a DNS-based URL content filtering service that has been designed with compatibility, scalability and flexibility as our priorities. However, rather than create a complicated URL filtering service, our services for filtering URL content are easy to implement, quick to configure, and simple to maintain.
Filtering parameters can be set and adjusted from any location via a browser-based portal that has an intuitive interface. Our services for filtering URL content protect your wired and wireless networks from online infections irrespective of the number of Internet users or devices, help improve workplace productivity and eliminate bandwidth limitation issues.
WebTitan Cloud Features
- Compatible, scalable and flexible.
- No hardware to purchase or software to download.
- No bandwidth restrictions or limit on the number of Internet users.
- Protects wired and wireless networks from online infections.
- User-based and time-based filtering options.
- Automated reporting can be scheduled in advance.
- Custom categories available for bespoke filtering.
- Available in white-label format for MSPs and re-sellers
Contact the WebTitan team today to find out more about our URL content filtering service. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about protecting your organization´s networks from online infections and will invite you to try WebTitan Cloud on a free thirty-day trial without obligation in order that you can see how easy it is to implement and operate our URL filtering service.