Evaluating the most suitable web filtering vendor for your organization’s requirements can be a long-drawn-out process. There are many web filtering vendors that can supply products of various specifications and ease of use, and it is not often that an Internet content filtering vendor is able to provide a comprehensive solution for every scenario you may encounter.
To help resolve which may be the most suitable content control filtering vendor for your requirements, we have compiled a list of factors you may wish to include when evaluating website control filtering vendors. Initially however, we would like to illustrate some of the issues that can be resolved by an Internet access control vendor and the drawbacks of products offered by some web filtering vendors.
The Issues That Can be Resolved by an Internet Access Control Vendor
There are many different motives for contacting a web filtering online vendor with the intention of implementing an Internet filter. Whereas some companies will require the Internet content filtering vendor to stop employees accessing non-work related websites during working hours, other companies will be assessing the merits of website content filtering vendors to see if their products assist compliance with industry, state and federal regulations.
There are some small to medium sized businesses that rely on their Internet access control vendor to improve their security posture. Internet access control can be a key tool in defending against cybercriminals, and their web filtering vendor will be expected to protect them against online threats such as phishing and malware. By preventing employees from accessing websites known to contain online threats, an Internet content filtering vendor is helping the company mitigate the risk of a virus attacking their network.
Bandwidth issues can also be resolved with the help of a URL filtering vendor. Bandwidth issues develop when users access video streaming websites such as Netflix and YouTube. Accessing these sites – and illegal download sites – can drain an organization´s bandwidth and prevent other users from accessing the Internet. Instead of paying more for additional bandwidth, organizations can take advantage of the products offered by website content filtering vendors to prevent bandwidth-hogging activities.
The Drawbacks of Products Offered by Some Website Content Filtering Vendors
There are many advantages to be gained by using an Internet content filtering vendor in order to control access to website content, but there may also be some drawbacks if you implement a product offered by a content control filtering vendor that lacks versatility. It is essential to know about these potential drawbacks, as they could influence your choice of URL filtering vendor and product.
One of the most common issues associated with web filtering vendor products is the accidental blocking of acceptable Internet content. An example of this is when schools and libraries block adult content such as pornography in order to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). If a web filter is not versatile, it is likely to block access to all content of a sexual nature – including valuable educational content.
Most solutions offered by website control filtering vendors require fine-tuning to avoid excessive blocking of acceptable Internet content, and many of the drawbacks associate with Internet filters occur when a web filtering online vendor cannot provide “granularity” in their product. Granular controls enable administrators to effectively fine-tune acceptable use policies to suit individual users or user-groups.
How URL Filters Work?
URL filters stop websites or webpages from being displayed to the user if they fail to comply with an organization’s acceptable use policy. URL filtering is conducted in up to three ways.
Blacklists and Whitelists
Blacklists contain a list of websites and webpages known to contain unsuitable content or harbor malware. Whitelists are the opposite inasmuch as they contain “safe” sites that otherwise might be blocked by an over-zealous web filter. Both sets of lists can be created and maintained by an organization or obtained online. In order to ensure your organization´s blacklists and whitelists are kept up-to-date, it is advisable to select a web filtering online vendor that provides current blacklists and whitelists as part of their service.
URL Filters that are Category-Based
URL filters that are category-based rely on a directory of website categories to ascertain whether or not access to a specific webpage should be allowed or blocked. Category-based filters offer a quick way of blocking selected website content effectively based on the content of the page. Pre-set categories are usually determined by the web filtering vendor and most often include sites that contain pornography, online shopping, social media chatrooms, or gambling. Categories can be turned on or off as an organization requires, and some website content filtering vendors also provide the facility to create and customize your own categories.
URL Filters that are Keyword-Based
Your selected content control filtering vendor should also be able to provide you with the option of keyword-based filtering. URL filters that are keyword-based examine each webpage for pre-selected keywords and the user is allowed access to the site by the web filtering online vendor depending on whether certain keywords are present. Keyword-based URL filtering is a useful addition to blacklists, whitelists and category-based filtering to add another level of accuracy to content control.
Bypassing Content Controls
Organizations evaluating web filtering solutions may want to ensure the product they select prevents employees or customers from bypassing content controls. The possibility of bypassing most commonly exists when the only option available from a web filtering vendor is the installation of software onto individual user devices. This type of installation is fairly simple to bypass by informed users or via anonymizer websites.
The solution to prevent bypassing by individuals is to select a server-based web filter that also block anonymizer websites by blacklist, category or keyword. Server-based web filters are much more difficult to bypass by individuals; and, if temporary access to restricted websites is justifiably required by an individual, your Internet content filtering vendor should be able to instruct you on how to create “bypass keys”.
How Do Products Offered by Web Filtering Vendors Differ?
There are three types of Internet content filters most commonly offered by web filtering vendors – hardware-based solutions, software-based solutions and cloud-based solutions. A URL filtering vendor should be able to offer organizations the choice – although most organizations typically avoid hardware-based solutions because of their initial implementation costs and lack of scalability. With a hardware-based web filtering solution, additional hardware will be required as the organization grows, making this option less cost-effective for many small to medium businesses.
Consequently, the majority of website content filtering vendors offer software-based solutions. The web filtering online vendor installs the software on individual devices, on a dedicated server, or in a virtual environment as required. Software-based solutions have lower initial implementation costs and subscriptions can often be distributed over the duration of a contract to make affordability easier. Software-based solutions tend to be more scalable and versatile than hardware-based alternatives, and an Internet access control vendor may also be able to provide a cloud filtering service for additional ease of implementation.
The Advantages of Using a Cloud Filtering Vendor for Ease of Implementation
The key to selecting a cloud filtering vendor is how easy it is to implement their product. Most web filtering vendors providing cloud-based software will use a DNS-based solution, so all that is required to implement the solution is for the organization to point its DNS to the service provider’s servers. This usually takes no longer than 2 minutes once the organization has the IP address of the cloud filtering vendor.
There is no hardware to purchase with a cloud filtering solution nor any software to install on users´ devices or the organization´s server. Configuration of the cloud-based solution is straightforward, and acceptable use policies can be easily implemented and fine-tuned via an intuitive web-based interface. The solution has access controls and settings that can be accessed remotely – meaning that multiple locations can be managed via one portal.
Cloud filtering is rapidly becoming the most popular choice for small to medium sized businesses due to the ease of implementation, management, and maintenance. A cloud filtering vendor – such as WebTitan Cloud – provides a solution with the versatility and scalability most organizations require, while remaining one of the most cost-effective and accurate filtering solutions available.
Choose an Internet Content Filtering Vendor that Provides Top Support
A URL filtering vendor may be helpful when trying to attract your business, but what happens after you have committed to a subscription? How straightforward will it be for you to contact your content control filtering vendor and obtain customer support and a quick resolution to your issue? Selecting a web filtering vendor that provides top customer support can be far less stressful in the event that you experience problems.
At TitanHQ we understand the importance of top customer support. We are aware of the poor customer support provided by some website content filtering vendors and how time-consuming it can be to get a quick resolution to an issue. We take great care to provide our customers with industry-leading customer support from highly-trained representatives. We do not anticipate any issues with the WebTitan portfolio of filtering products; but, when you need us, we will always be there with a fast and efficient service.
Why Choose WebTitan as Your Web Filtering Vendor?
WebTitan products have been developed with simplicity, accuracy and efficiency in mind. The WebTitan portfolio consists of software-based and cloud-based solutions for protecting wired and wireless networks. The benefits of the WebTitan portfolio include:
- Our software solutions require no additional hardware
- Cloud filtering options are maintained and updated automatically
- Intuitive web-based filtering controls are easy to implement and adjust
- There is no Internet latency with any of our products
- High granularity allows for precision blocking of unwanted website content
- Configuration can be as simple as redirecting your DNS
- Organizations benefit from industry-leading customer support
- We provide payment options ranging from monthly billing to five-year subscriptions
- Potential customers are invited to try our thirty-day, no obligation free trial
When you subscribe to WebTitan, you also receive software capable of:
- Integration with Active Directory, LDAP, and eDirectory
- HTTP/HTTPS/FTP scanning and SSL inspection
- Supporting Safe Search and YouTube for Schools
- Real time viewing of browsing history
- Automated reporting
- Easy back-end integration
For further information about the WebTitan portfolio of filtering products, our hosting options, white label products for MSPs and resellers, or to sign up for a free thirty-day trial, contact the WebTitan team today.