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 transfer 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 regard 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.
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What is Filtering Software?
Implementing a dedicated guest WiFi brings with it a lot of security concerns. It is imperative to protect the internal company network from intruders that may probe the guest network, but also protect your customers from malware, drive-by-downloads, and man-in-middle attacks. Cybercriminals consider public Wi-Fi networks to be a soft target.
General security best practices should be followed to prevent the top causes of these breaches. First, the shared systems should, of course, never be on the same network with company information and customer data.
Filtering software uses a series of mechanisms to exercise control over access to the Internet. Naturally, most businesses will want to prevent network users from 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 or harm. 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 spamming or phishing. 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 or that contravenes an organization’s Internet usage policies.
- 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 of the file extensions most commonly associated with malware (.exe, .js, .scr for example).
Filtering software is flexible in as much 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” on cloud-based filters.
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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 ‘who is’ 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 a business´s IT resources that cost the 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 file-sharing sites and sites promoting illegal activities. Providers of a WiFi service can be charged with aiding copyright infringement if it can be proven they knew copyrighted material was being illegally downloaded on their wireless network, but failed to do anything about it.
Is it possible to have different policies for different Wi-Fi users?
You can set group policies if you integrate with your active directory. If you do not integrate with AD, you will be able to do policies per OTG agent.
The WebTitan OTG agent is specifically designed for roaming macOS and Windows laptops. If the agent is installed on a machine, we can just see the machine’s traffic and you can set a unique policy for that machine.
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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.
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 their children could be exposed to age-inappropriate content such as pornography, racial intolerance, and hate speech. Indeed, it is not just minors that find this content 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.
A web filtering solution can serve as WiFi monitoring software to provide visibility into what users are doing when they are connected to the WiFi network. 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.
Is there any Malware/Ransomware/Online threat protection included?
WebTitan has two use cases. The first is a proactive cyber security solution. We have a real-time market-leading database in use that is constantly kept up to date. We have 6 categories that we strongly recommend you always block. We will analyze each DNS request. If a DNS request falls within one of those 6 negative categories, then we will kill the DNS requests before it even loads. Thus, your endpoint AV and firewall will not trigger. This is why WebTitan is a proactive cyber security solution. Your AV and Firewall are by their very nature reactive solutions.
The second use case for WebTitan is that it’s a discretionary content filter which you can selectively allow/block web traffic to certain categories/domains.
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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 to access Facebook, but not Facebook Messenger, and apply those controls to individuals or user groups.
- In educational institutions, it is possible to control Internet access for 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 it is possible to control Internet access to conserve bandwidth. This means you can limit the amount of bandwidth each network user can use in order to prevent one or two users from 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.
Why not try a demo of WebTitan Web Filtering Software today?
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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 from using social media or gaming apps during work hours. It is possible to use WiFi filtering software to block WiFi users from accessing 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 ones 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. Care must be taken when using filtering software to control WiFi users 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 from 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 filtering service from a service provider that performs regular software updates and, ideally one that automatically updates the solution for you to avoid adding to your IT’s team’s patching burden.
Blocking Users without using WiFi Blocker Software
There may 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 bonafide users. For example, a single user may be taking advantage of the WiFi service to download large files, such as through torrents sites. One solution is to implement WiFi blocker software. A search for a WiFi blocker online will reveal many options, but care must be taken as certain types of WiFi blocker software – those that block other WiFi services – are considered illegal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
To avoid any issues with WiFi blocker software, a more acceptable solution is to implement a WiFi filtering solution with real-time monitoring. Web filters that offer real-time monitoring are a type of mac address filtering software. When users are taking advantage of your WiFi service, you simply use the web filter’s reports to see the MAC address of people abusing the WiFi service. You can then create a user policy blocking that particular MAC address. Many businesses, such as retail outlets, use their web filter as software to block WiFi hackers, and WiFi filters or mac address blocker software is frequently used in homes, workplaces, schools, and bars. It is also not considered illegal by the FCC!
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 websites – 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 has software updates 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 a minute) and then logging into the account via a 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, and no bandwidth limitations. Implementing WiFi filtering software is quick, easy, and inexpensive.
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Protect Your WiFi Network with WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
TitanHQ has been developing security software since 1999 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, transparent pricing, and has been designed to be effortless to use.
System administrators are able to 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. The solution also integrates with directory services such as Active Directory and LDAP. If you use management tools, APIs are supplied for easy integration.
The administrative portal also allows system administrators to apply application controls with ease. These controls can prevent compromised apps on users´ mobile devices from accessing the network and spreading malware, or creating a gateway through which cybercriminals can infiltrate the network. They also prevent unauthorized individuals from 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 WiFi filtering solution 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.
You can trial all of our security solutions for free – our trials include all product features and are fully supported. Click here to sign up for the FREE TRIAL
Summary of Features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
- 100% cloud-based.
- No software downloads are 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 for malware protection.
- Regular software updates are performed automatically.
- 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 the 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 automated 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 into auto-provisioning, billing, and management systems.
Try our WiFi Filter Software for Free
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 of charge. 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 setup costs, no credit cards required, no contracts to sign, and no obligation to continue with our service once the trial has concluded. You only need to provide an email address. If you do not wish to continue using our WiFi filtering software, simply change your DNS settings back to what they were originally.
WiFi Filtering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it possible to prevent in-store customers from browsing competitors´ websites to compare prices?
Certainly. Depending on the nature of your business, you will be able to control customer browsing activity by category or by keyword. You can also blacklist certain websites (Amazon for example). The option also exists to create customizable categories which can be used to block access to specific competitors only - for example only those in your neighborhood, or only those offering the same products as you at cheaper prices.
How is it possible to tell if employees have tried to access blocked websites?
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi logs every request to visit a website and has a comprehensive reporting suite that can be used to determine which requests have been allowed and which have been blocked. Reports can be set up in advance to provide a daily list of attempts to visit blocked websites and the times at which the requests were made. Alerts can also be set to provide real-time notifications.
Is WebTitan Cloud for WiFi compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems?
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is compatible with all operating systems and browsers - not only mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS but also workstation operating systems such as Windows and macOS. If you feel the number of different operating systems connecting to your WiFi network may cause a problem, do not hesitate to contact us.
Do you have any testimonials from companies that have used your system?
We have a page dedicated to WebTitan testimonials in which you will find feedback from satisfied WebTitan Cloud for WiFi customers. You will also find more on our YouTube channel; but, rather than base a purchasing decision on other people´s opinions, we invite you to take advantage of our free trial offer to try WebTitan Cloud for WiFi in your own environment.
How many users can I protect from online threats simultaneously?
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is scalable up to tens of thousands of simultaneous users, and it was for this reason our solution was selected to secure more than 700 wireless access points at the 55,000-seat Etihad Stadium in Manchester, UK. If your organization has a requirement to secure a venue at this scale, do not hesitate to contact us.