WiFi filtering for Internet and web sites is already mandatory in some jurisdictions in certain circumstances. Where it is not mandatory, there are advantages of WiFi filtering for web sites for businesses and organizations that provide WiFi networks. For example, limiting access to certain types of website content can protect networks from malware and ensure all users enjoy a safe browsing experience.
This article explains why there is more to WiFi filtering for web sites than blocking sites of an adult nature. It elaborates on the benefits of WiFi filtering for businesses and organizations, and covers some of the main reasons why an increasing number of enterprises are now using WiFi filtering for Internet access points. But first, we will look at the most valid reason for implementing WiFi filtering – for Internet security.
Using WiFi Filtering for Web Sites to Improve Security Posture
One of the main reasons that the use of WiFi filtering for web sites is increasing is in response to the growing risk of cyberattacks. The healthcare and finance industries are frequently targets for attackers keen to obtain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for identity fraud, while the energy sector is often attacked by hacktivists. The retail industry has also been targeted by cybercriminals looking to gain access to POS systems in order to obtain customer credit card numbers.
Hackers have identified that employees are often the weakest link within an organization´s cybersecurity defenses and are increasingly using phishing and social engineering techniques to gain access to computer networks. It may be easier to fool employees into revealing login credentials and installing malware than to try to break through firewalls or find security vulnerabilities but, with WiFi filtering for Internet security, employee access to websites containing malware, ransomware, spyware, and adware is blocked.
WiFi filtering for web sites has become increasingly important to deal with this attack vector, but malicious websites are constantly being created to spread malware. Therefore, rather than using blacklists of known unsafe websites, WiFi filtering for Internet security should be implemented using a category-based filtering solution. Categories of websites known to be unsafe include Peer-2-Peer (P2P) file sharing websites, FTP sites, and video download websites. These categories can be effectively blocked, along with any newly created malicious website that falls into these categories.
It is also possible to use WiFi filtering for web sites that host Adobe Flash videos. Flash-based attacks have been extensively used by cybercriminals to deliver malware recently via web sites that host third party advertising. Hackers have been known to include links to malicious websites in web adverts, some of which have been placed on seemingly safe sites such as Yahoo and MSN. A filtering solution can block these adverts without restricting access to the website on which they are hosted. WiFi filtering can also be used to prevent downloading unsafe attachments such as executable files and screensavers. These file types are commonly used to hide malware installers.
Although many industries now consider WiFi filtering for Internet security to be a vital extra layer of defense against cyberattacks, there are still plenty of opportunities for cybercriminals. Next in this article, we elaborate on WiFi filtering for businesses and offices, Internet content filtering for students in universities and schools, and web content WiFi filtering for hotels, restaurants and bars; but we would like to quickly illustrate some other scenarios in which organizations and individuals are at risk from having a poor security posture. These include, but are not limited to:
- Retail outlets that provide WiFi for their customers,
- Medical centers and hospitals,
- Hotels, motels, resorts and casinos,
- Airports and other transport hubs, and
- Rail and bus networks.
The Benefits of WiFi Filtering for Businesses and Offices
Should I implement WiFi filtering for businesses and offices? This is a question often considered by many SMBs, but not always for the right reasons. All too often Internet filtering for enterprises is only considered when business owners discover Internet access is being abused by employees and, by taking a more proactive approach to WiFi filtering for Internet content control, it is possible to prevent many potential HR issues from arising.
The benefits of WiFi filtering for offices are numerous. The improvements that can be made to productivity are likely to more than make up for the cost of implementing and managing a web filtering solution – the often misperceived disadvantages of implementing WiFi filtering for offices. WiFi filtering for Internet content control does not need to be expensive, and some products – such as WebTitan´s cloud-based WiFi content filtering solution – require little management time.
Improve Productivity by Using WiFi Filtering for Internet Access Points
Providing totally unrestricted Internet access to employees is seen by many IT security professionals to involve an unacceptable level of risk. As mentioned above, WiFi filtering for enterprises in the healthcare, financial, energy and retail sectors is often more about protecting networks from cyberattacks than controlling personal use of the Internet to improve productivity.
However, some studies suggest that employees waste an average of an hour a day on personal Internet use. Multiply that hour by the number of employees in an organization, and it adds up to a serious loss of productivity. Some employers believe that employees should not use the Internet for personal use at all, while others take a much more relaxed view about personal Internet use if all work tasks are completed each day. There is undoubtedly a happy medium and it is up to employers to decide the extent to which WiFi filtering for Internet access is applied.
The Importance of Internet Content Filtering for Students in Universities and Schools
Internet content filtering for students in universities and schools can help to protect students’ devices from malware infections, although the most common reason for using web filtering for students is to enforce Internet usage policies. In the majority of schools, those policies prohibit the accessing of adult and illegal web content. In the United States, WiFi filtering for Internet use by students is a requirement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA was introduced to better protect minors from harmful website content, specifically child pornography and obscene images.
Although it is not mandatory for Internet filtering for students to be implemented in every jurisdiction, schools and libraries wishing to apply for E-rate discounts must comply with CIPA regulations and filter Internet content. Even if web filtering is not required by law, schools can face pressure from parent groups to implement WiFi filtering for web sites of an adult nature. Due to the potential harm that can be caused to minors, the use of web filtering for schools is strongly recommended.
Granularity Prevents Valuable Educational Material from being Blocked
One problem that can occur when using web filtering for students is the accidental blocking of websites containing material with high educational value. It is all too easy for educational institutions to use web filtering for students to block sexual content such as pornography, but to accidentally also block websites offering sex education. If web filtering for schools is to be used, it is wise to choose a solution with a high degree of granularity. This allows content to be carefully controlled and will reduce the probability of valuable educational material being accidentally blocked.
Internet filtering for universities is important because educational institutions are being targeted by cybercriminals and attacks are conducted to gain access to student data such as Social Security numbers. Research data also carries a high value on the black market and, due to their relative inexperience of Internet threats and their willingness to take risks, students are more likely to be the most vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. Internet filtering for universities is therefore strongly recommended in order to protect against data theft and cyberattacks.
Web Content WiFi Filtering for Hotels, Restaurants, and Bars
Internet filtering for hotels, restaurants, and bars offers a number of advantages – such as being able to monitor customer online activity to devise targeted marketing campaigns. However, one of the main reasons for using content control for hotels, restaurants, and bars is to prevent customers from accessing non-family friendly website content.
Many establishments implement WiFi filtering for web sites to prevent the accessing of pornography and other inappropriate material in public areas. This is because – inasmuch as the provision of free WiFi can attract customers – should one customer be browsing inappropriate material in view of other customers, the net loss of customers could be greater than any gain.
Protect Your Bandwidth with Website Filtering for Hotels
Website filtering for restaurants, bars and hotels can be implemented to prevent guests from streaming videos and adult content that can reduce revenue from paid-for TV channels in hotel rooms. However, one of the most important reasons for using content control for hotels, restaurants, and bars is to conserve bandwidth.
When WiFi users access bandwidth-heavy activities such as video streaming and file downloading it can have an impact on all users. Internet speeds will be reduced and some users may be prevented from being able to connect to the Internet. Internet filtering for hotels, restaurants and bars can be used to limit bandwidth-heavy activities and ensure that all users can benefit from fast Internet speeds. Using a cloud-based WiFi content filtering solution is also wise in this regard, as the solution does not have any impact on Internet speed.
WebTitan´s Cloud-Based WiFi Content Filtering Solutions
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a cloud-based WiFi content filtering solution that is quick to implement, easy to maintain, and practical to use. Being a cloud-based WiFi content filtering solution, there is no need to purchase any additional hardware, no software needs to be installed on servers or users’ devices, and Internet controls can be applied in a matter of minutes.
Our cloud-based WiFi content filtering solution enables the enforcement of acceptable Internet usage policies simply and quickly, and does not require an extensive range of technical skills. We believe Internet filtering is important, but it should not take up a great deal of time or resources to manage.
The Key Features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
No Additional Hardware or Software Installations
Since WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is 100% cloud-based there is no need for any additional hardware or software installations on user devices or servers. Our web filter can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
Web Filtering with No Latency
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can be used for static and dynamic IP addresses and, since it is DNS based, there is no latency. Content can be controlled without any impact on Internet speed.
Granular Controls Ensure Maximum Flexibility
Highly granular controls allow administrators to have total command over the website content that can be accessed over their WiFi networks. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi links to LDAP and Active Directory making it easy to apply controls for individuals, groups, or across an entire organization.
Keyword and Category-Based Web Filtering
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows Internet usage policies to be quickly applied using pre-defined website categories with the flexibility to create custom categories, to filter by keywords, and upload blacklists and whitelists to block/permit websites and specific webpages.
Scalable Solution Suitable for Organizations of All Sizes
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can be used to protect WiFi networks of all sizes, from single routers to nationwide networks of WiFi hotspots. There are no limits on bandwidth or the number of users, routers, or locations. An intuitive administration panel can be accessed from any location and used to configure content controls for all WiFi access points.
Industry-Leading Customer Service
We developed WebTitan Cloud for WiFi to be straightforward to implement and easy to manage. But, if ever you experience any problems, our team of highly skilled customer support staff are on hand to quickly resolve any issues with installation, configuration, or management of our web filter.