A web page filter is an online security mechanism that primarily prevents network users visiting web pages harboring malware or those that contravene the network´s acceptable Internet use policy. However, a web page filter is not limited restricted to blocking access to web pages. It can also be used to prevent users accessing unsafe web applications and file types.
How a Web Page Filter Protects Networks
Filters for blocking access to web pages compare each request to visit a web page against blacklists of websites known to harbor malware. The blacklists are updated as new threats are identified and, if a network user attempts to visit a blacklisted website, they are shown a “block page” which explains why their request has been denied.
In addition to blacklists, some web filters also have URIBL and SURBL filters. URIBL and SURBL filters prevent network users visiting web pages that have not yet been blacklisted but which share IP addresses with known sources of spam email. These web pages have usually been created with the purpose of deploying malware or executing a phishing attack.
The third way in which web filters protect networks is SSL inspection. This process decrypts the content of encrypted web pages so it can be scanned by antivirus software. Encrypted web pages are not as secure as network users are led to believe, and many have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers to upload malware.
Creating and Enforcing Acceptable Internet Use Policies
Acceptable Internet use policies are typically difficult to police. However, with web filters, the creation and enforcement of acceptable Internet use policies is easy. The filter´s parameters are created via a centralized, web-based portal and – once set – enforced automatically. In most scenario´s, a web page filter is a low-maintenance “set and forget” online security mechanism.
Network administrators have a choice of how they want to apply their acceptable Internet use policies. Web pages can be blocked according to the nature of their content or by keyword. Different policies can be applied to different network users according to their roles (i.e. a hotel may have one policy for employees and another for guests), and the policies can be applied by time or bandwidth.
Via the web-based management portal, network administrators can view online activity in real time or order reports to review historical activity. The reports can reveal trends in Internet usage, and threats to network security such as web traffic travelling through non-standard ports. If changes are required to the filter´s parameters, these can be applied with the click of a mouse.
The Benefits of a Web Page Filter for Businesses
Although capable of protecting any type of network, the benefits of a web page filter are more evident in business. If a business network is infected by malware, suffers a data loss due to ransomware or is the victim of a Business Email Compromise attack (similar to a phishing attack), the consequences can be extremely damaging. Small businesses are often unable to recover from these events.
The ability to avoid a malware infection is a significant benefit to a business, as is an increase in productivity businesses can achieve by blocking access to non-work related online activities. The elimination of access to online content likely to cause offense can also create a more pleasant working environment and remove many of the causes of HR issues in the workplace.
As businesses such as McDonalds and Starbucks have witnessed, implementing a web page filter to create a family-friendly environment can have a positive impact on footfall. Businesses providing a publicly accessible WiFi service can also take advantage of historical activity reports to tailor promotions based on their customers´ online activities.
Try a Web Page Filter from WebTitan for Free
WebTitan is one of a group of companies that has been developing online security solutions since 1999. Our range of filters for protecting networks from web-borne threats are industry-leaders and offer robust defense mechanisms combined with the highest level of granularity. Noted for their ease of use, WebTitan web page filters come in a choice of deployment options:
- WebTitan Gateway is a software-based web page filter that is installed behind the network´s firewall or hosted in a virtual infrastructure. Compatible with management and directory tools for accelerated policy application, WebTitan Gateway is scalable to thousands of network users.
- WebTitan Cloud is a low-maintenance cloud-based web page filter that is implemented with a simple redirection of the network DNS settings. Capable of controlling multiple locations from one portal, WebTitan Cloud is an ideal filter for MSPs and resellers.
- WebTitan Cloud for WiFi protects all types of wireless networks – from those operating from a single router to nationwide networks of WiFi hotspots. Suitable for businesses with a BYOD policy, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi supports both static and dynamic IP addresses.
To find out more about the WebTitan range of web page filters, do not hesitate to contact us and ask about our free trial offer. Our team of friendly Sales Technicians will answer any questions you have, explain more about the free trial offer and guide you through the registration process. Naturally you will have all the help you need during your free trial to optimize our web page filter for your specific circumstances.