What web filtering is
Web filtering is a set of techniques allowing their users to block dangerous, inappropriate and unwanted internet resources. Each technique is based on a specific internet protocol. For example, DNS filtering is based on the DNS (Domain Name System) protocol. DNS filtering is the most reliable and robust technique for blocking malicious and phishing, gross and pornographic sites – any content employers do not need in a work environment.
When you deploy DNS filtering on your corporate network, each DNS query of your network users is analyzed from the point of view of a content category the requested internet resource belongs to. If it belongs to a category, allowed on this network, the DNS query is successfully resolved into the requested site. If anybody tries to access a site from a blocked content category, then this network user is going to see a block page instead of the requested site.
With a DNS filtering solution you can block the entire site, no matter how many web pages it contains. Thus, DNS filtering prevents any possible harm done to its users from malicious and phishing resources, explicit and porn sites, online time wasters – in a word, any unwanted and inappropriate content.
A very important advantage of DNS filtering is that it blocks HTTP/unencrypted sites as well as HTTPS/encrypted ones. Unlike DNS filtering, other filtering techniques require much more resources for blocking encrypted sites. The DNS-based web filtering has no impact on the filter’s performance. This is vital as these encrypted websites now comprise over 70% of all the existing internet resources. The number of the HTTPS sites grows rapidly as encryption improves security.
That’s why choosing a web filtering solution, that can’t block HTTPS websites, renders your attempts to filter the internet pretty much useless. So, do not fall for any marketing tricks of web filtering vendors and make sure the chosen web filter does the job you hire it for. A SafeDNS web filtering solution for business is DNS-based and filters encrypted internet traffic without a hitch.
What your business get with the deployment of web filtering
It goes without saying that dangerous resources should always be filtered out to significantly strengthen your business’s internet security. Malware, phishing, ransomware and cryptomining are difficult to recognize as such. They are often disguised as something innocuous.
No web surfer, however tech savvy he or she is, can know in advance how dangerous this or that internet resource is. A legitimate looking site can infect devices and entire corporate networks with all kinds of malware. It can irreparably damage the OS of business’s devices, steal valuable corporate and personal info entailing financial and reputational losses.
So the web filtering solution you choose should be capable of blocking these cyber threats. SafeDNS is good at it. According to a review by 3-party testers in Australia, SafeDNS is especially good at blocking malicious resources. This has become possible due to SafeDNS own web categorization database with over 105M sites in it, distributed into 60 content categories. The database is exceptionally precise as SafeDNS uses AI and machine learning to automatically categorize internet resources and add them to the dynamically updated database.
Often overlooked by business IT and CISOs, cryptojacking (the term combines the words "cryptocurrency" and "hijacking") is becoming ever more popular with unscrupulous coin miners. They use sites which propagate mining software via Trojans and other malicious programs. In a hidden mode it is installed and launched on computers of unsuspecting internet surfers. When mining software is at work, it exhausts CPU of a user device and gobbles up electricity, racking up huge electricity bills.
Ask your web filtering provider, if its solution can protect your business against cryptojacking. SafeDNS categorizes the sites, stealthily mining cryptocurrency, as malicious resources and adds them to its web categorization database.
When trying a web filtering solution, pay attention if the solution offers users a choice to block security-related categories of content. If there aren’t any, the solution is probably weak at filtering out cyber threats.
It might not be immediately obvious but ad blocking contributes to online safety of your business too. Internet ads are not just annoying and distracting. They are often used to distribute malicious payloads. If you can block the web ads with your filtering solution, it is also a boon for your security.
Web filtering is indispensable when it comes to boosting productivity. How? Easy! Use your web filter to block everything that does not belong to your staff doing its job. No more social media feeds and video streaming sites during the work hours. Filter out any and all categories of content that might prevent employees from work.
Do not worry about availability of corporate social media pages for your PR and Marketing teams or Amazon – for your Procurement. An advanced web filter allows users to make exceptions from filtering rules per filtering policy – just add the necessary sites to a filter’s white list. To ‘whitelist’ an internet resource makes it freely accessible to the network users with a specific filtering policy, no matter which content category the whitelisted resource belongs to.
‘Blacklisting’ works the other way around. A site, blacklisted for users with a specific filtering policy, will always be blocked, its content category notwithstanding. Such features as white/black lists are needed to further personalize the web filter and adapt it to your business’s needs.
Keep in mind to regularly check web filtering stats to always be in the know which sites your employees visit and if their online activity is in line with the corporate internet usage policy.
Web filtering is the tool for enforcing your business’s internet policy, blocking illegal and controversial online content. Getting rid of pornography, child and adult sexual abuse sites reduces employers’ liability for their staff web surfing behavior, helps to avoid HR issues and possible law suits connected to harassment, hostile work environment.
SafeDNS does a great job of filtering out porn and adult sites. According to the 2018 test results by AV-Comparatives, a world-known test lab, SafeDNS blocks near-perfect 98.3% of requests to adult content.
How to implement a web filtering solution
Web filtering implementation depends on what kind of a solution you choose for that – an appliance, software (to download on a server or endpoints) or a cloud-based service. The web filtering appliance can be costly and requires expensive maintenance. Software needs regular updates that can be free for a limited time period, then you’ll have to pay for the updates. Sometimes, software allows no remote management which is far from ideal in huge organizations with a large number of employees and offices/branches/stores.
A cloud filtering service requires no additional hardware and software and is usually more moderately priced. The service can be set on a server/firewall, office WiFi routers or directly on organization’s devices. SafeDNS provides such a feature-rich cloud service for web content filtering. It’s managed online and allows to centralize management for all of your locations SafeDNS protects.
Whatever web filtering solution you choose, it must provide multi-policy filtering. As it ensures flexibility each complex corporate entity needs. Some departments and individuals are supposed to have an almost unrestricted access to the internet, others might need more limitations. So, only a granular, multi-policy filtering solution will fully meet the huge firms’ demand for such flexibility.
Make sure any of the filtering policies, you create, prevents users from surfing to malicious, phishing and illegal resources – block the appropriate categories of content. It might be a good idea to also block bandwidth gobblers, though it depends on individual needs of any business.
Customize the filtering further by creating lists of exceptions from the filtering rules (black and white lists) and as many block pages as you need for different users and/or their groups.
If you find it necessary and your cloud filtering provider offers you such an opportunity, install filtering software on the staff’s desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Such software might offer protection for corporate devices taken off-network and an opportunity to filter the internet differently for various users on the same device. This becomes possible by applying a specific filtering policy to each user. Thus you’ll also be able to get per-policy filtering service stats. An additional bonus if you could choose to install this software either with or without graphical user interface. The latter provides you with an ability to filter the internet in a hidden mode, without the need to explain anything to your employees.
To boost your staff morale, allow for filtering breaks. You can, for example, set a filtering schedule so that the employees could watch YouTube pet videos or do some online shopping during lunch time. This small step might go a long way to avoid burnout and enjoy a more welcoming work environment.
What benefits web filtering brings business
Let’s sum up how your business benefits with web filtering on. Namely, you enhance your cyber security, drive productivity, and avoid liability. By deploying a web filter with the necessary number of filtering policies you can refine web access management and introduce the exact amount of restrictions on surfing the internet from the corporate network, your business requires.
Let your staff know, web filtering is not internet censorship, it is a tool to protect corporate and personal information, safeguard your company’s reputation, and create a healthier work attitude.
Do not wait for incident of malware infecting your corporate devices and entire network, stop wasting your financial resources on irrelevant internet activity – get the web filtering solution that best suits your organization’s needs now.
Take a look at how SafeDNS provides enterprise security and check out: