In theory, selecting a web filtering appliance should be easy. You should be able to contact a vendor, explain your requirements, and be offered the most appropriate solution to evaluate on a trial basis. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple.
Some web filter appliances may have high maintenance overheads or complicated administration; whereas others may be very good at defending against web-borne threats, but use all the CPU´s resources to protect your network.
You may find one web filtering appliance lacks the granularity to apply different user policies to different user groups, while another does not give you the option to exclude inadvertently blocked websites and apps from the filtering process.
In theory, all of these issues could be resolved by evaluating one web filtering appliance after another until you find the most appropriate solution. But that will take time and it is preferable to understand the potential issues before contacting a vendor in order to organize a free trial.
Maintenance Overheads and Administration
The term “maintenance overhead” relates to how many resources you have to dedicate in order to keep a web filtering appliance up-to-date. The ultimate example of a high maintenance overhead is per-device, hardware-based filtering solutions that each need updating every time a new threat is identified.
Software-based and cloud-based filtering solutions – particularly those that manage a network from a central administration portal – have much lower overheads. Typically they are updated in real time by the vendor, leaving network managers free to concentrate on other network issues.
In addition to being centralized, the administration portal has to be easy to use. An interface that is too complicated to understand could result in the filtering parameters being incorrectly set and network users being prevented from accessing business-critical websites and applications.
Avoiding the Drain on CPU Resources
One very important function of a web filtering appliance is SSL inspection. This function decrypts the content of encrypted websites, scans the content for viruses and to ensure it complies with acceptable user policies, before re-encrypting the website for delivery to the network user.
With more than half of the world´s most visited websites being encrypted, SSL inspection is a vital process. However, it can drain the CPU resources and result in poor network performance, slow Internet speeds and the temporary unavailability of web utilities such as email.
Some software-based solutions and all cloud-based solutions take the drain on CPU resources into account. With cloud-based web filtering applications, the SSL inspection is performed on the service provider´s servers, releasing CPU resources and enhancing network performance.
Granularity and the Whitelisting Function
The more granularity a web filtering appliance has, the more versatile it is. Web filter appliances with maximum granularity can allow thousands of different user policies and apply the user policies by additional factors such as time, bandwidth and IP address.
It is also easier to control Internet access if a web filtering appliance has a high number of category filters. These block network user access to specific types of Internet content, and the more category filters there are, the less there is the need for the whitelisting function.
With the whitelisting function, network managers can allow trusted websites and applications to bypass the filtering mechanisms. However, a trusted website one day may not be secure the following day if a software update has exposed a vulnerability that can be exploited by a hacker. The whitelisting function is useful, but it should be used sparingly.
Web Filter Appliances from WebTitan
WebTitan´s web filter appliances resolve all the issues mentioned above. Virtual web filter appliances are provided that are quick to implement and configure, these act as standard internet filtering appliances and can be implemented on existing hardware. Our software-based and cloud-based filtering solutions can be up and running within minutes and integrated with Active Directory in order to accelerate the process of applying user policies.
Our robust filtering mechanisms protect networks against malware, ransomware and phishing attacks, while sorting more than six billion web pages into fifty-three categories. User policies can be set by bandwidth, time and keyword, or by file extension for additional protection against drive-by downloads.
Network managers can monitor web activity in real time via our easy-to-use centralized administration portal, or order reports to review historic web activity – a useful tool for businesses in regulated industries with a requirement to conduct risk assessments.
Try a WebTitan Web Filtering Appliance for Free
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, selecting a web filtering appliance should be simple – and that is what we try to help you achieve at WebTitan. Our web filtering solutions are designed to be “set and forget” solutions that leave network managers free to concentrate on other network issues.
Furthermore, when you contact us to explain your requirements, we will not try to baffle you with features and benefits, but arrange for a free trial for you to test our web filter appliances in your own environment. The only thing we need to know before starting your free trial is which one of our solutions will suit you best:
WebTitan Gateway is a virtual web filtering appliance that is scalable up to 60,000 users. The appliance is installed as software behind your firewall or can be hosted in your virtual environment.
WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-based web filtering appliance that is installed by redirecting your DNS settings Quick to set up and easy to manage, there is no lower maintenance solution than WebTitan Cloud.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi has been specifically developed to protect wireless networks and is ideal for businesses that operate a BYOD policy or provide a publicly-accessible WiFi service.
To find out more about the WebTitan range of web filter appliances, or to start you free trial, do not hesitate to contact us. Our industry-leading customer service team will be happy to answer your questions and guide you through the process of starting your free trial of the most appropriate web filtering appliance for your requirements.