In business, the primary motive for using website filters is to block sites at work and protect your network, your data and your users from malware and ransomware. Most website filters use a similar blacklist-based, front-end mechanism to block sites at work that are known to harbor malware, have an IP address associated with malware, or that hide their true identity behind a proxy server.
Thereafter, category and keyword filters allow system administrators to block access to high risk websites (pharmaceuticals, travel, online shopping, etc.), websites whose content may breach acceptable use policies (gambling, pornography, racial intolerance, etc.) and file types with extensions most commonly used to deliver malware and ransomware attacks.
The granularity of website filters protects businesses from online threats, prevents productivity-sapping online activities and stops employees from being exposed to objectionable online content. However, granularity can come at a price. The price in the case of hardware and software website filters to block sites at work is often Internet speed. And a slow Internet speed can be harmful to productivity.
How Website Filters Slow Internet Speed
The reason why Internet speeds suffer when businesses block sites at work is because more than half of the world´s most visited websites are SSL-certified. Some are encrypted to keep transactions secure (online banking for example), others to protect personal privacy (Facebook, Google and WhatsApp for example), but most to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
In order to inspect each encrypted website to ensure it is free from malware and complies with user policies, website filters decrypt the website, examine its content and re-encrypt it, before allowing access. Dealing with one SSL-certified website takes little time at all, but in a business with hundreds of users, the SSL inspection process can place a strain on the server at times of peak Internet use.
The slow Internet speed does not only affect access to the Internet. It can affect other web-based processes such as email and access to cloud databases. In the worst scenarios, email servers, cloud databases and the Internet may be temporarily inaccessible – harming productivity and profitability. Furthermore, the problem of slow Internet speeds is likely to get worse.
Some Solutions do More Harm than Good
The reason why the problem of slow Internet speeds is likely to get worse is two-fold. The number of SSL-Certified websites is growing daily and there is a trend towards 4096-bit encryption, which will result in longer key exchange times and up to 80% more strain on the server during the inspection process. Basically, if you current filter to block sites at work doesn´t slow your Internet speed, it will soon.
One solution sometimes suggested is to use the whitelisting facility of website filters to reduce the strain on the server. This involves entering business-critical and trusted websites in the whitelisting facility in order to indicate to the filter there is no need to check their content. Although the process reduces the strain on the server, in can increase the workload for system administrators.
The risk also exists that a trusted website may be infiltrated by a cybercriminal after it is whitelisted. As the website will bypass the filtering mechanisms, your employees will be unaware it may contain malware or ransomware, and there could be more serious consequences than a slow Internet speed. Although viable for certain applications, whitelisting should not be over-used to bypass website filters.
Block Sites at Work through the Cloud to Eliminate Latency
A more appropriate solution is to use cloud-based website filters to block sites at work. Cloud-based filters inspect the content of SSL-Certified websites on the service provider´s servers, rather than the business´s servers – eliminating the strain of the SSL inspection process and slow Internet speeds. Cloud-based filtering also eliminates the need to over-use the whitelisting facility.
Cloud-based filters to block sites at work also have the benefits of no capital outlay or high maintenance overheads. Businesses simply subscribe to a service package, redirect the DNS settings on their server, and the filtering solution is ready to go. All updates to the blacklists, category descriptions, anti-virus software and phishing protection software are performed by the service provider.
Further benefits include that cloud-based filters to block sites at work are compatible with every type of network, they are scalable to tens of thousands of users, and offer the same degree of granularity as hardware and software filters to protect businesses from online threats, prevent productivity-sapping online activities and stop employees from being exposed to objectionable online content.
Block Sites at Work with WebTitan Cloud
SpamTitan´s cloud-based solution to block sites at work is WebTitan Cloud – an easy-to-use solution that is easy to set up, has an auto-configuration feature, and can be integrated with management tools such as Active Directory to simplify creating permission roles and applying acceptable use policies. The solution can be managed from any location using a web-based management portal, which can also be used to view real-time web activity on your network and order reports by user, user-group or time.
WebTitan Cloud provides enterprise-class web content filtering and protection against malware and ransomware for your network, your data and your users with imperceptible latency; and, even if you have not have noticed any reduction in Internet speed during peak use, we invite you to take a free trial of WebTitan Cloud to evaluate its merits in your own environment.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, do not hesitate to contact us today. Implementation of WebTitan Cloud is quick and easy, and there are no contracts to sign, no credit cards required, nor any commitment on you to continue using our service once the free trial has concluded. You will never know how much your current solution to block sites at work is harming your users´ productivity and your business´s profitability until your compare it against WebTitan Cloud.