A library Internet filter has plenty of benefits. By controlling the online content users can access, libraries can create family-friendly environments free from exposure to pornography, racial intolerance and other subjects inappropriate to library users.
In many jurisdictions, the implementation of a library Internet filter will qualify the facility for LSTA grants and E-rate discounts. It will also comply with state laws requiring the use of a library filter or the enforcement of an acceptable use policy.
However, the primary benefit of a library Internet filter is to protect the library´s network and users from web-borne threats such as malware and phishing. A successful malware attack – such as the ransomware attack that crippled St Louis´ library services in early 2017 – can prevent a library from operating.
How Filtering Protects Library Networks from Malware
Library network filters use various mechanisms to protect the network. Each time a network user types in a URL or clicks on a link to visit a website, the filter´s blacklists check to see if the website is known to harbor malware and SURBL/URIBL filters check that the website is not associated with an IP address from which spam email has originated.
There is a strong connection between spam email and malware, so the role played by these filters is very important. Spam email is also frequently used to launch phishing attacks. So, by preventing users visiting websites that have been specifically created to launch malware and phishing attacks, libraries protect both their networks and their network users.
One further mechanism that protects library networks from malware is SSL inspection. SSL inspection (also known as HTTPS filtering) is a process that decrypts and reads the content of encrypted websites to ensure it does not breach acceptable use policies. While this process is happening, antivirus software scans the content of the website to ensure it is safe.
Creating User Policies with a Library Internet Filter
User policies are easy to create and enforce with a library Internet filter. Network controls are administered via a web-based portal. Administrators log into the portal and select the categories of website content they do not want their users to access (pornography, child abuse, religious intolerance, etc.). The exempted categories can be applied with the click of a mouse.
Due to the versatility of library Internet filters, different policies can be created for different user groups. For example, it is possible to create one user policy for adults and another for children. It is also possible to apply the filters by time or bandwidth, and block access to specific online content by keyword rather than block access to the entire category into which the inappropriate content falls.
Once the filtering parameters are set, the library Internet filter enforces each acceptable use policy automatically. Administrators can monitor network activity in real time via the web-based portal, or pull historical reports to help identify trends and potential threats – such as web traffic travelling through non-standard ports and users taking advantage of anonymizer services to bypass the filter.
Try a Library Internet Filter Free for Fourteen Days
If you are a network administrator at a library, we invite you to contact us and request a free fourteen-day trial of a library Internet filter. Our trial offer gives you the opportunity to test out one of our industry-leading filtering solutions in order to experience their protective mechanisms and ease of use in your own environment. Our library Internet filters come in a choice of deployment options:
- WebTitan Cloud is a low-maintenance cloud-based library Internet filter that is installed with a redirection of the network´s DNS server settings. With 53 existing categories and 10 customizable categories, WebTitan Cloud offers maximum granularity.
- WebTitan Cloud for WiFi protects wireless library networks and the devices that connect to them. Suitable for all types of wireless networks, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is particularly suitable for libraries operating a BYOD policy.
Our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to discuss your options with you, explain more about our free trial offer and answer any questions you have about implementing and managing a library Internet filter. Our cloud-based filters are ready to go straightaway, so contact us today and you could be providing your library´s users with a filtered Internet service within twenty minutes.