Finding the most suitable content control filtering solution for your organization is not an easy task. Not only are there plenty of web content access controls on the market, but they can be offered as hardware applications or software programs, which may have high installation costs or require long-term subscriptions.
There is also the question what you organization´s motives are for selecting a website content access solution. The likelihood is that you want to restrict access to websites that may contain malware and other viruses, but some organizations also use a web content filter to enhance the productivity of their workforce or resolve issues with bandwidth.
Irrespective of your organization´s motives, this guide to what to look for in a content control filtering solution will detail some of the key “must have” features in a website content access control solution. These features ensure that your organization´s web content filter solution has the scalability and flexibility to adjust to future growth, changing work practices and technological advances – and the web-borne threats that accompany them.
What to Look for in a Content Control Filtering Solution
The key “must have” feature in a website content access control solution is a high level of “granularity”. The term “granularity” refers to the degree of fine-tuning your web content filter solution gives you. For example, you may want to allow access to your corporate Facebook page to your marketing department but not provide your marketing employees access to Facebook chat or other social media application.
A content control filtering solution works by refusing access to predetermined web pages, types of file or applications. It does this by applying blacklists and whitelists, category filters and keyword filters. Blacklists are lists of websites that are known to contain infections and inappropriate material your organization would not want viewed in the workplace. Whitelists are effectively “safe” sites.
Category filters are usually preset categories that will block access to subjects such as pornography, gambling, online shopping and social media. You do not have to apply every category, and it is advisable to select a website content access control solution that offers you the option of creating and customizing your own categories that may be more relevant to your organization´s business.
The fine-tuning of web content access controls is achieved with keyword filters. Your organization´s system administrator can adjust the filters´ settings as necessary in order to block or allow access to certain web pages, types of file or applications in order to enforce compliance with your organization´s Internet acceptable use policy.
A further key feature of a content control filtering solution is URIBL and SURBL filtering. These mechanisms check requests to visit websites against a blacklist of IP address from which spam email is known to have originated. By blocking access to websites associated with known sources of spam email, an organization enhances its defenses against phishing should a phishing email evade detection by a spam filter and a malicious link within the email be clicked by a network user.
Other features you may wish to consider in a content control filtering solution are listed below:
A website content access control solution should not slow down users´ access to the Internet – at least not so much as they might notice. Be sure to see your chosen web content filter solution in action before committing to it so that you can ensure it has imperceptible latency.
Easy Management and Low Maintenance Overhead
Your chosen content control filtering solution should be easy to manage with a low maintenance overhead. Ideally, automatic updates should come as standard, while it should be possible for a system administrator to delegate less important filter adjustments.
The reports produced by your website content access control solution should allow you to identify where employees have attempted to access a prohibited class of website or circumnavigate the solution. With scheduled reporting, you will have this information at your fingertips when you need it.
Time-Based Filtering Controls
Time-based filtering controls have two purposes. They can be used to apply bandwidth limits per user during the times when your organization´s Internet use is at its greatest to ensure the web is available to everyone, and it can be used to relax Internet acceptable use policies during breaks or after hours.
NetIQ / Active Directory / LDAP / Integration
If your organization uses a directory service such as NetIQ (Novell eDirectory), Active Directory or LDAP, your selected web content filter solution should come with a selection of APIs for backend integration. This will enable filtering by users, user-groups and departments much simpler to deploy and manage.
Multi-Lingual Filtering Facility
Even if your organization operates solely in the English language, it will be in your best interests to implement a web content filter control that has a multi-lingual filtering facility to block phishing attempts that original from overseas.
White Label Option
If your organization is a managed service provider (MSP), in addition to all the above features, you should look for a content control filtering service that is available with a white label option. This will enable you to promote the filtering service as an add-on to existing clients or as a stand-alone service to new clients.
Customer and Technical Support
No matter how carefully you evaluate web content access controls, it is important that your service provider has excellent customer and technical support that can supply on site or remote assistance at any time you may need it. Good customer and technical support will make the implementation and management of a website content access control solution that much easier.
Web Content Filter Solution Architecture
The web content filter solution architecture determines what applications are used to filter the Internet. Usually web content access controls are divided into three separate types of solution – client, server and gateway:
Client-Based Web Content Filter Solution Architecture
A client-based web content filtering solution is installed on individual devices. For organizations with a low number of Internet users, this is an attractive option due to the low initial cost. However, web content access controls implemented on individual devices have to be updated and managed individually – creating a high maintenance overhead if implementing more than a handful of filters.
Server-Based Web Content Filter Solution Architecture
A server-based web content filter solution is often a more practical solution for small to medium sized businesses as the filtering software is installed on the server and not individual devices. This type of web content filter solution is easier to maintain, but does require the purchase of hardware appliances and likely to require on premise installation.
Cloud-Based Web Content Access Controls
It is also possible to implement a cloud-based solution that does not require any on site hardware or software installation. Organizations simply have to point their DNS to the service provider´s servers in order to start filtering the Internet. Management of the solution can usually be performed remotely from any location, making cloud-based web content access controls the easiest type of solution to implement and manage.
Website Content Access Control Solution Pricing
Naturally, website content access control solution pricing is one of the most important influencing factors when evaluating web content access controls, and pricing will vary considerably depending on the type of web content filter solution architecture you select.
Whereas a client-based solution is less expensive to implement (depending on the number of devices), the ongoing management of the solution could be resource intensive. Server-based web content access controls have a lower maintenance overhead, but involve the potentially expensive purchase of filtering hardware.
Service subscriptions are usually required for cloud-based solutions. Website content access control solution pricing in these circumstances can depend on the number of users/TCP connections required and the term of the contract – with some service providers offering discounts for longer-term subscribers, while others offer convenient payment structures.
Web Content Access Controls Cost Comparison
Due to the wide variety of features, architectures and pricing options that are available, compiling a web content access controls cost comparison that would remain relevant over time is impractical. Instead we can highlight the cost of failing to implement any safeguards against web-borne threats or web content access controls in the workplace
If, for example, one of your employees falls victim to a phishing email and inadvertently downloads malware that would have been blocked with a content control filtering solution, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars to resolve the damage depending on the spread of the infection throughout your computer system and the size of your organization.
The cost of failing to implement a website content access control solution in the workplace can rise to many tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity if employees are able to access websites containing pornography, video streaming sites, online shopping portals and social media sites. Research has shown that the majority of Internet traffic to websites containing pornography occurs during working hours.
What is the Best Content Control Filtering Solution for MSPs?
The best content control filtering solution for MSPs is one that is universally compatible, scalable and flexible, has no hardware or installation costs and a low maintenance overhead – exactly what your clients are looking for as well!
Consequently, the best content control filtering solution for MSPs is a cloud-based solution. Cloud-based solutions have no hardware requirements, do not need on site installation and can be configured by the MSP to meet clients´ requirements. Indeed, many web content access controls are so easy to manage that the client may prefer to take control of the maintenance overhead and manage their own settings.
Particularly important for MSPs offering a gateway solution is that the best content control filtering solution has a suite of APIs for backend integration and is supplied with a white label option. In that way, MSPs and resellers can market web content access controls as their own product. If the option exists to host the content control solution in your own infrastructure, so much the better!
The WebTitan Suite of Web Content Access Controls
Whether your organization is looking to implement a website content access control solution to increase your security posture, enhance productivity or resolve bandwidth issues - or incorporate Internet filtering-as-a-service into your organization´s portfolio for clients - WebTitan has a website content access control solution that will meet your organization´s requirements.
Many organizations find the WebTitan suite of web content access controls tick the right boxes, due to their flexibility, scalability and ease of configuration and maintenance. The WebTitan suite of web content access controls has been developed to make controlling the webpages your employees can access as simple as possible and includes:
WebTitan Cloud is a high-convenience, low-maintenance web content filter solution. WebTitan Cloud can be up and running in minutes, simply by logging into the web portal and redirecting your DNS to our servers. There are no software clients to install and, because you can access the web portal from any location, you can apply and adjust your filters´ settings - or those of your clients - from any device.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a versatile website content access control solution that offers additional protection for Wi-Fi hotspots and the devices connected to them. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi provides support for dynamic and static IPs and, no matter how large your WiFi network, delivers filtered Internet access to all devices with imperceptible latency.
Irrespective of which WebTitan content control filtering solution you choose, you can be assured of:
- Solutions that are compatible with all computer systems and networks.
- Preset and customizable filtering options that allow for the fine-tuning of settings.
- No restrictions on bandwidth, or the number of users/TCP connections.
- Suite of APIs for back-end integration and directory services.
- Easy to configure multi-lingual settings can be configured from any device.
- Automated report scheduling reduces maintenance overhead.
- Multiple subscription structures and easy payment terms available.
- Self-hosting, white-label option available for MSPs and resellers.
Try a WebTitan Content Control Filtering Solution for Free
If you are trying to find the most suitable content control filtering solution for your organization, or have questions about how best to enhance your defenses against malware and ransomware, do not hesitate to contact us and speak with our team of Sales Technicians. Our team will be happy to discuss your requirements with you and answer your questions to help you determine which type of web content access control may be most suitable for your needs.
Thereafter you will offered the opportunity to take a free trial of the most suitable WebTitan content control filtering solution in order that you can evaluate its merits in your own environment. This should help you establish the optimal configuration of your content control filter so that, should you decide to continue using the WebTitan service, no further configuration of the solution will be necessary. Call us today to find out more.