Web content control solutions are designed to prevent Internet users in your organization accessing web pages that may harbor computer viruses or malware, from cyberslacking, or from viewing bandwidth-sapping material that could also lead to HR issues. By preventing access to unsafe or inappropriate material, an Internet content control solution can help to strengthen an organization´s online security profile, reduce productivity loss and prevent bandwidth and HR issues before they arise.
Unless trained to be aware of online threats, many Internet users are oblivious to the volume of security risks that exist on the Internet. Cybercriminals attempt to exploit this lack of knowledge with phishing campaigns – usually in the form of an email, within which the user is invited to click on a link to a website harboring malware that then infects an organization´s network. Content control solutions block the website from being displayed to the user; thus preventing any infection being downloaded onto the user´s device.
As well as reducing the risks of online threats, web content control solutions can be configured to restrict access to Internet content employers would not want their employees visiting during working hours – such as online shopping portals, online gambling sites and social media sites. An Internet content control solution can also be used to conserve bandwidth by blocking access to video streaming sites such as YouTube and Netflix and, by blocking access to websites containing pornographic material, employers can eliminate complaints from offended employees and HR issues.
How Web Content Control Solutions Work
Web content control solutions work by using one or more of the three following methods to ascertain whether requests to view specific online content should be allowed or declined:
- Blacklists. Blacklists usually consist of a list of websites known to harbor malware such as adware, and ransomware. Other blacklists can be obtained that blanket-block websites containing pornography, P2P file sharing websites or websites with proxy addresses. Whitelists also exist and do the opposite – permitting access to “safe” websites when requests may be declined by over-zealous category filter settings.
- Category filters. Category filters enable system administrators to block access to specific groups of website by category. Preset categories could include online shopping portals, online gambling sites or social media sites, and most web content control solutions have the option of creating customized categories. Category filters can also be used to prevent users circumnavigating the Internet content control solution by using anonymizer sites or VPNs.
- Keyword filters. Keyword filters enable administrators to fine-tune Internet access by keyword. This type of filter can also be applied to file types to prevent the inadvertent downloading of executionable files, block access to video streaming websites or chat apps within corporate social media sites. Like blacklists and category filters, the keyword filters on an Internet content control solution should have the flexibility to be applied by individual user, user-group, department or universally.
Selecting an Internet Content Control Solution
Not all web content control solutions are the same. Selecting which Internet content control solution is most appropriate for your organization will likely depend on your organization´s motives for filtering the Internet. Other considerations may include the initial cost of implementing an Internet content control solution and the resources your organization may have to dedicate to managing the solution once it is up and running.
Three key factors when selecting an Internet content control solution are compatibility, scalability and flexibility. Naturally, you need to ensure that any system of Internet content control you commit to is compatible with your existing network and that the number of users can be scaled up or down to reflect the changing size of your organization over time and its reliance on the Internet. Ideally you should look at least five years ahead to ensure you do not have to repeat the evaluation exercise in twelve or twenty-four months.
Flexible web content control solutions are essential. Being able to set and adjust filtering parameters by individual user, user-group, department and universally is important irrespective of the size of your organization and the nature of its business. Acceptable Internet use policies will change as new working practices are introduced and technology advances, or – if your organization is positioned within a regulated industry – as new laws are enacted.
Other Features to Look For
Although compatibility, scalability and flexibility are important features to have in an Internet content control solution, often other features will be necessary in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. The following is a selection of features that can frequently be found on web content control solutions:
APIs for Integration with Directory Services
If you use directory services such as NetIQ, LDAP or Active Directory, having APIs that will allow you to integrate your Internet content control solution with your directory service will make adjusting the filter settings by user-groups and departments much simpler and less time-consuming.
Automated Updates and Report Scheduling Options
Web content control solutions should have automated software updates and report scheduling options. These features reduce maintenance overhead and enable system administrators to detect potential breaches of acceptable use policies and threats to the integrity of the Internet content control solution.
Multi-Lingual Filtering to Increase the Solution´s Effectiveness
Even if there are no multi-lingual Internet users in your organization, it is recommended that your Internet content control solution is capable of blocking threats and inappropriate material from websites in languages other than English.
Available Technical and Customer Support
Irrespective of how simple the implementation and management of your Internet content control solution, there should always be technical and customer support available for the times that you need guidance – especially “out-of-hours” technical and customer support.
White Label Options for MSPs
If your organization is a managed service provider (MSP), white labelled web content control solutions will enable you to provide Internet filtering as a service to your existing client database and resell the service on to new clients to expand your client database.
Addressing the Issue of SSL Inspection and Latency
SSL inspection is a vital element of content control solutions. It is a process that decrypts, reads and re-encrypts the content of encrypted web pages to ensure they do not harbor malware or material that would contravene acceptable use policies. In the past, encrypted websites were mostly limited to those on which financial transactions were conducted. However, thanks to Google´s policy of enhancing “secure” websites in their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), more than half of the world´s most visited websites are now encrypted.
Inspecting the content of multiple encrypted web pages during peak web activity can place a tremendous strain on CPU resources - potentially slowing Internet speeds and making some web-based applications such as email temporarily unavailable. This issue can be resolved by whitelisting trusted, business-critical websites so that they bypass the filtering process and reduce the strain on CPU resources. A less labor-intensive method of avoiding latency is to implement cloud-based content control solutions - where the SSL inspection process is performed on the service provider´s servers.
Internet Content Control Solution Architecture
Having established the features that would best help you achieve the objectives of protecting your network from web-borne threats, enhancing productivity and avoiding bandwidth and HR issues, you then have to select your preferred Internet content control solution architecture. Web content control solutions have three primary architectures and one more suitable for WiFi networks:
Client-based content control solutions are installed individually on each device that connects to your fixed network. Because of their low initial cost, client-based content control solutions are favored by organizations with a small database of Internet users. However, this type of Internet content control solution has a significant maintenance overhead, as each solution has to be installed and updated separately.
Server-based content control solutions are more practical for organizations with a larger database of Internet users. Typically these solutions are installed on an organization´s server, reducing the maintenance overhead, but often requiring a substantial capital outlay for the hardware and hardware support contract.
Gateway-based solutions are often the choice of larger organizations. These powerful content control solutions offer the greatest level of protection and flexibility provided that they are compatible with the organization´s existing infrastructure. Implementing an Internet content control solution avoids the expense of purchasing dedicated hardware applications.
Cloud-based solutions are often the most practical Internet filters for organizations of all sizes. Cloud-based web content control solutions operate by redirecting the organization´s DNS to the service provider´s servers and thus require neither hardware nor on-site software installations. Cloud-based solutions are guaranteed to be compatible with an organization´s existing system and the most suitable solution for organizations maintaining WiFi networks.
Content Control Solutions Pricing
When considering an Internet content control solution, naturally one of the most important considerations is content control solutions pricing - not only the hardware and software costs of implementing the solutions, but also the ongoing costs relating to service subscriptions, support and managing the solutions.
Internet content control solution pricing can depend on how many users require filtered access to the Internet at the same time, and what length of time the organization commits to receiving a web filtering service. Many providers offer attractive discounts for long-term contracts, while some allow organizations to spread the cost of a contract over monthly installments - an ideal outcome for smaller organizations or those restricted by a tight budget.
Cost Comparison for Web Content Control Solutions
Because of the different types of architecture an organization can implement, the features it requires, and the different pricing options, it would be impractical to provide a like-for-like Internet content control solution cost comparison. What is practical to provide is a cost comparison of not implementing an Internet content control solution.
Should your organization´s network suffer a serious infection that could have been avoided with an Internet content control solution, it will cost many thousands of dollars to resolve. If a hacker has been able to access confidential information about the organization or protected personal data, the financial consequences could be far greater due to the potential loss of business, regulatory fines and civil action.
The failure to implement an Internet content control solution can also cost your organization many thousands of dollars in lost productivity. If you are unable to enforce acceptable use policies and effectively allow free access to online shopping portals, online gambling sites and social media sites, the productivity of your employees is undoubtedly going to fall.
The WebTitan Portfolio of Internet Filtering Solutions
WebTitan has a portfolio of Internet filtering solutions to meet your organization´s needs. Our portfolio of web content controls solutions has been developed to make deployment and administration as easy as possible, and includes a powerful, yet flexible, range of products.
WebTitan Gateway offers the ultimate in cybersecurity defense. This Internet content control solution offers best of breed malware protection, highly granular browsing policy controls, and comprehensive reporting. WebTitan Gateway is delivered as a software appliance, run on your own hardware or in your virtual infrastructure.
WebTitan Cloud is an Internet content control solution with an exceptionally low maintenance overhead. This convenient Internet filtering solution is implemented and administered via a web portal and all organizations have to do to start filtering the Internet is redirect their DNS to WebTitan´s servers.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi supplies a high level of protection to organizations maintaining a WiFi network with the same level of convenience as provided by WebTitan Cloud. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi creates a safe environment for your employees, clients and visitors to surf the Internet over wireless networks with imperceptible latency.
Each of our content control solutions can be configured to meet your organization´s specific needs.
- No restrictions the number of users, TCP/IP connections or bandwidth.
- Internet filtering solutions that are compatible with all network systems.
- Scalable and flexible, with APIs supplied for backend integration.
- Automated report scheduling reduces maintenance overhead.
- Multi-lingual filter settings can be set and adjusted from any location.
- Industry-leading technical and customer support - available when you need us.
- A wide range of pricing options include substantial discounts and easy payment terms.
- Contact us today to start your no obligation, thirty-day free trial.
Content Control Solutions for MSPs
If your organization is involved in providing managed services or reselling Internet services, speak with us about the benefits of working with WebTitan. WebTitan´s content control solutions for MSPs are available in a white label format and can be hosted within your own infrastructure or within a private client cloud if desired.
We know that you will appreciate the advantages of being able to supply your clients with solutions that tick all the right boxes, have low maintenance overheads and can be configured remotely to meet each of your clients´ needs. Call us today for more information about our content control solutions for MSPs to discuss your requirements.
Try One of Our Content Control Solutions for Free
If you would like to limit the access network users in your organization have to the Internet, you are invited to contact us and request a free trial of our content control solutions. Our team of Sales Technicians will ask you about your current network and your specific requirements in order to select the most appropriate Internet content control solution for your circumstances.
Our free trial offer should enable you to evaluate our Internet content control solution in your own environment and find the optimal settings for maximum security. Then, if after your trial you decide to subscribe to one of our competitively priced subscription plans, no further configuration of the solution will be necessary.