Using a web filter to restrict Internet access at work is one of the most important measures a business can take to enhance its online security. Restricting Internet access alone will not bullet-proof online defenses, but by preventing employees from visiting websites known to harbor malware, or from visiting fake websites created for the deployment of a ransomware attack, businesses reduce the chances of a financial or data loss due to the actions of a cybercriminal.
As well as enhancing online security, web filters can be used to enforce acceptable use policies, increase productivity, and restrict Internet access to cyberbullies who might otherwise use online material to harass or intimidate work colleagues. Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace environment, and the implementation of a web filter to restrict Internet access at work can help prevent HR issues such as cyberbullying from developing.
The Different Types of Web Filter Available
There are three different types of web filter available for restricting Internet access at work. Originally all web filters were hardware-based; and, although acceptable for individual users and home networks, hardware-based web filters are expensive for large businesses to purchase and time-consuming to manage. Over time these have been replaced with software solutions that do not have the capital outlay, are easier to manage and more flexible.
Some software solutions have issues inasmuch as the SSL inspection process to filter the content of encrypted websites can place a significant drain on the server – slowing down Internet access for everyone and affecting the performance of web-based applications such as email. For this reason, many large businesses are adopting cloud-based web filters – filtering solutions for restricting Internet access that are managed at administrator level, but which do their filtering in the cloud.
How Web Filters Restrict Internet Access
Most web filters use a three-tier filtering mechanism to restrict Internet access – blacklists, category filters and keyword filters. In the first tier, some web filters also include SURBL filters to block access to fake websites used in phishing attacks, and URIBL filters to prevent employees visiting websites that disguise their true identity behind a proxy server or by using the whois privacy feature. The three tiers work together to provide a highly granular filtering service.
- Blacklists restrict Internet access to websites known to be harboring malware. Blacklists, SURBL filters and URIBL filters (where provided) are updated in real time by the filtering service provider as new threats are identified.
- Category filters sort millions of web pages into categories (abortion, adult entertainment, alternative beliefs, alcohol, etc.) so system administrators can select which categories of Internet content they do not want employees to have access to.
- Keyword filters can be used to restrict Internet access by keyword. As well as being a useful tool to enforce acceptable use policies, keyword filters can be used to block access to file extensions most commonly associated with malware and ransomware downloads.
Category filters, keyword filters and whitelists – which allow trusted websites to bypass the filtering mechanism – are all managed by the system administrator via a web-based management portal. The portal allows system administrators to view Internet activity in real time and download reports to show historic activity by user, user group, time or IP address. Historic activity is particularly useful for identifying trends and threats, and for completing risk assessments.
In many cases, businesses may not want to apply filtering parameters universally within the business. For example, a business may want to restrict Internet access to social media websites, but not for its marketing department. Modern web filters are sufficiently versatile to allow filtering parameters to be applied by user, user group, time or IP address – many having integration with management tools such as Active Directory so that user policies can be applied at the click of a mouse.
Web Filters for Restricting Internet Access from SpamTitan
Due to the expense of implementing hardware-based web filters, and the high maintenance overhead of running them, SpamTitan offers a choice of only software-based and cloud-based solutions for restricting Internet access. Each has been specifically developed with ease of use in mind, and each has SURBL and URIBL filters to maximize protection against phishing attacks and malware downloads. The choice of deployment options are:
WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-based web filtering solution compatible with all networks and all operating systems. Businesses can restrict Internet access at work within minutes with a simple redirection of the DNS server´s settings.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi has been designed for the demands of wireless networks and is particularly suitable for businesses with a BYOD policy or those who provide a publicly-accessible wireless service. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can be implemented to restrict Internet access from single WiFi access points or networks with multiple WiFi hotspots.
Try a Free Trial of our WebTitan Web Filters
If you are concerned about the threat from malware and ransomware, and would like to evaluate the merits of our WebTitan web filters in your own environment, do not hesitate to contact us and request details of our free trial offer. Our team of Sales Technicians will be happy to answer any questions you have about restricting Internet access, explain the free trial offer to you, and discuss which is the most appropriate of the WebTitan solutions for you to try.
By taking advantage of this opportunity, you are not committing to continuing with our service once the free trial has concluded. However, if you subsequently decide to restrict Internet access at work with a WebTitan filter, we can offer you a range of competitive subscriptions packages. Furthermore, as the free trial period gives you the opportunity to find the optimum settings for your WebTitan web filter, no reconfiguration of your chosen solution will be required.