If your business provides a wireless Internet service to employees, customers, students or the general public, WiFi filter software is an important element of online security that can help keep your network free from malware, and protect network users and their devices from online threats.
Many businesses that have implemented an employee- or publicly-accessible WiFi service have benefited commercially from the service. Productivity increases due to employees being more comfortable with their own devices and customers like to stay connected. However, these benefits can have a cost attached. Compromised devices can transport malware or provide gateways for cybercriminals to infiltrate networks. WiFi filter software can help prevent these issues.
In addition to the security element, WiFi filtering software also has benefits with regards to compliance and creating a more pleasant browsing experience. These benefits can be turned into further commercial advantages by many businesses to more than justify the relatively small expense of implementing WiFi filter software.
What is Filtering Software?
Filtering software comprises of a series of mechanisms that control access to the Internet. Naturally, most businesses will want to prevent network users visiting websites that harbor malware, and some will also want to block access to productivity-sapping online activities or online material likely to cause offense. To achieve these aims, filtering software has three “control layers”:
- In the first control layer, the filtering software checks each request to visit a website against blacklists of websites known to harbor malware. URIBL and SURBL filters also check that the websites are not associated with spam or phishing emails. If a match is found, the request to visit the website is denied.
- The second control layer consists of category filters that sort 3 billion+ web pages into fifty-three categories (adult entertainment, online shopping, social media, etc.). Network administrators can choose which categories to restrict access to in order to improve productivity and prevent network users from being exposed to online content they may find offensive.
- The keyword filters in the final layer provide the opportunity to fine-tune the filtering software to block access to web pages containing certain words when blocking an entire category would be impractical. The keyword filters can also be used to block downloads with the file extensions most commonly associated with malware.
Filtering software is flexible inasmuch as it has a high degree of granularity. The category and keyword filters can be applied to individual network users, groups of users, or universally to all network users. They can also be applied by time, giving businesses such as hotels and bars the opportunity to restrict access to adult entertainment until a watershed, and then relaxing the restrictions as required.
Filtering software allows network administrators to add trusted websites to a “whitelist”. These are usually business-critical websites that, once whitelisted, bypass the filtering mechanisms to reduce the strain on CPUs and improve network performance. It is also possible to override all the filtering parameters when circumstances justify such an event by using a “cloud key”.
Why is it Important to Control Internet Access?
By controlling Internet access, you are protecting your network and the mobile devices that connect to it from online threats. The implementation of filtering software makes it much less likely that devices will be infected by a virus or have malicious adware, spyware or ransomware downloaded and installed.
WiFi filter software blocks access to websites that do not conform to standard security protocols and websites that hide their true identity behind a proxy server or the whois privacy feature. This eliminates the risk of your customers divulging their personal credentials to a scammer who has constructed a fake website for the sole purpose of executing a phishing attack.
In addition to enhancing your online security and that of your network users, you can configure WiFi filter software to prevent “cyber-slacking” – the non-work-related use of business´s IT resources that cost industry billions of dollars each year in lost productivity. Typically, many non-work-related websites (such as pornography, gambling and drug supply websites) also harbor malware.
WiFi filter software can also be configured to block access to online content that people would find offensive – preventing possible HR issues in the workplace – and illegal file sharing sites. Providers of a WiFi service can be charged with aiding copyright infringement if it can be proved they knew copyrighted material was being illegally downloaded on their wireless network, but failed to do anything about it.
Further Commercial Advantages of WiFi Filter Software
Taking the trouble to find more out about WiFi filter software, and implementing a mechanism to protect WiFi networks, has its commercial advantages. The most obvious of these is an increased level of productivity in the workplace, the avoidance of HR issues and the elimination of illegal activities on the network for which the business providing the wireless network service could be found liable.
However, research has shown that some families avoid venues that provide an unfiltered public WiFi service – even if they have no intention of using the service themselves. This is due to concerns that minors could be exposed to age-inappropriate content such as pornography, racial intolerance and hate speech. Indeed, it is not just minors that find these topics offensive.
Therefore, bars, restaurants, hotels and other venues that implement WiFi filtering software have a commercial advantage over competitors that provide an unfiltered service. As mentioned previously, it is not necessary to apply the filter settings around the clock or to every network user. Filtering parameters can be adjusted as necessary while providing a family-friendly WiFi service as required.
There is also a commercial advantage to be gained from the reporting features of WiFi filter software. Reports can be used to learn more about the browsing activities of network users (without revealing their identities). Businesses in the service and entertainment sectors can use this data to plan promotions and special events that will appeal to their existing customers, and possibly attract a few like-minded ones.
Examples of Network Filtering Software in Action
In order to demonstrate the versatility of WiFi filtering software, it can be beneficial to provide some examples of network filtering software in action. The following examples are just a small selection of scenarios in which network filtering software can help protect WiFi networks, aid compliance, increase productivity and create a more pleasant browsing experience.
- In an office environment, it is possible to prohibit access to social media platforms for everyone except the marketing department. Within the filtering policy, you could – if you wished – allow employees within your marketing department to access Facebook, but not Facebook Chat.
- In educational institutions, it is possible to control Internet access to students according to their year. With this level of versatility, older students can access important educational material and teenage support groups, while younger students are protected from potentially inappropriate material.
- Medical Centers have the option of applying different filtering parameters for medical professionals, administrative staff, patients and visitors – particularly visitors in public waiting rooms where there may be minors present.
- Retail organizations can also apply different filtering parameters for their staff and customers, with the time controls being used to relax restrictions on staff Internet access during coffee breaks, lunch breaks and before/after working hours.
One further advantage of WiFi filter software is that it is possible to control Internet access by bandwidth. This means you can limit the amount of bandwidth each network user can use in order to prevent one or two users exhausting the available bandwidth by (for example) live streaming videos on their mobile devices. This ensures every network user has equal access to the Internet at all times.
Using a WiFi Filter to Block WiFi Users Software
There may be occasions when you want to block WiFi users software – for example if you are an employer operating a BYOD policy who wants to prevent employees using social media or gaming apps during work hours. WiFi filtering software can be used to block access to apps on demand through the administration panel.
As the range of apps is constantly growing, it can be useful to schedule reports in order to identify which apps are being used and which you want to block. These are the same reports as mentioned in the “Further Commercial Advantages” section above. In a commercial environment, it may be unwise to block WiFi users software indiscriminately as you may lose the commercial advantage you gain from implementing WiFi filtering software.
One important point to note is that a WiFi filter alone may not prevent mobile malware on an already infected device infecting your network. In order to protect WiFi networks from mobile malware it is important to use a strong password on your router, use a filter that has built-in antivirus software and only use a service from a service provider that performs regular software updates.
Blocking Users without using WiFi Blocker Software
There may be also be occasions when you have users taking advantage of your WiFi service when the signal extends beyond your premises. This can have a detrimental effect on the level of service you are able to provide to bona-fide users. One solution is to implement WiFi blocker software, provided it is not the type of WiFi blocker software that block other WiFi services and is considered illegal by the FCC.
To avoid any issues with WiFi blocker software, a more acceptable solution is to implement a WiFi filtering solution with realtime monitoring. When users are taking advantage of your WiFi service, you simply make a note of their MAC address and then create a user policy blocking that MAC address. It is a simple procedure that is frequently used in homes, workplaces, schools and bars that doesn´t attract the attention of the Federal Communications Commission!
What is the Best WiFi Filter Software to Use?
The best WiFi filter software not only has to be robust and versatile, but easy to use. If the WiFi filtering software is too complicated to configure, the likelihood is that the filtering parameters will be set too high – potentially blocking access to important or popular online locations – or set too low, potentially providing a gateway for cybercriminals and scammers.
It also has to be cost effective – not only in terms of the initial cost of implementing network filtering software, but also in the indirect cost of updating the software. For this reason, the best WiFi filter software to use is cloud-based software that has no up-front cost, is quick to deploy, has an auto-configuration facility and for which the software updates are performed by the service provider.
Businesses connect to cloud-based WiFi filtering software by simply entering a different address in their DNS server settings (this is a quick operation that can be done in minutes) and then logging into their account via a central web-based administrative portal. Through the portal, system administrators can apply user policies, select category filters and set keyword filters with the click of a mouse.
Reports on user activity can be ordered from the administrative portal and administrators can monitor network activity in real time or set up email alerts in order to be advised of any attempts to circumnavigate the filtering parameters. There are no software downloads necessary, no restrictions on the number of users or hotspots that can connect to the network, and no bandwidth limitations. Implementing WiFi filtering software is quick, easy and inexpensive.
Protect Your WiFi Network with WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan is one of a group of companies that, since 1999, has been developing security software with the primary goal of simplifying the intricate world of Internet security for our customers. For our customers providing a wireless Internet service to employees, customers, students or the general public, we have developed WebTitan Cloud for WiFi.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a low maintenance, robust filtering solution for businesses of all sizes and in all industry sectors. Compatible with all networks and operating systems – and scalable up to tens of thousands of users – WebTitan Cloud offers maximum protection from online threats, maximum versatility and maximum ease of use.
System administrators are able control Internet access via a simple administrative portal with an intuitive interface with no specialist training or technical expertise required. User policies can be created manually with the click of a mouse or quickly imported from existing management programs such as Active Directory or LDAP using our integration tools.
The administrative portal also allows system administrators to apply application controls. These controls can prevent compromised apps on users´ mobile devices accessing the network and spreading malware, or creating a gateway through which cybercriminals can infiltrate the network. They also prevent users accessing your WiFi network, mitigate the risk of security vulnerabilities on your router being exploited, or your DNS settings being changed involuntarily (by a hacker) to execute server redirect attacks.
Our network filtering software is also an ideal solution for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that want to protect the integrity of their clients´ wireless networks. Accounts can be created for each location to allow different policy controls to be applied per location. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can also be supplied as a white label product, allowing MSPs to brand the product as their own.
Summary of Features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
- 100% cloud-based.
- No software downloads necessary.
- No need to purchase hardware.
- Control web filtering settings from multiple routers via a single web-based administration control panel.
- Protect customers from phishing websites, malware, and other Internet threats.
- Protect your network from unwelcome users and compromised apps.
- Dual antivirus engines and regular software updates.
- Allows the creation of policies and policy exceptions via whitelisting and cloud keys.
- Supports dynamic and static IP addresses.
- No restriction on devices, bandwidth, or number of hotspots.
- Our WiFi filter software has imperceptible latency.
- Highly granular controls allow extensive control over Internet content.
- Includes a full suite of on-demand and schedulable reports.
- Can be supplied as a white label product to MSPs with a range of hosting options.
- Includes a host of APIs to integrate the solution with auto-provisioning and billing systems.
Try Our WiFi Filter Software Free for Thirty Days
If your business would like to take control over the online activities conducted over your WiFi network, enforce acceptable use policies and provide a safer browsing experience for all your network users, we invite you to try our WiFi software filter free. Our free trial offer will give you the opportunity to evaluate WebTitan Cloud for WiFi in your own environment and witness the benefits of implementing WiFi filtering software.
There are no set up costs, no credit cards required, no contracts to sign, and no obligation to continue with our service once the trial has concluded. If you do not wish to continue using our WiFi filtering software, simply change your DNS settings back to what they were originally. For further information about our cloud-based WiFi filtering software, details of pricing, and to sign up for a free trial, contact our sales team today.