Today’s businesses have the world as their oyster – and it’s all thanks to the rapid rise of the internet. This offers a perpetual worldwide digital marketplace to any company, anywhere, anytime.
These enormous benefits of internet access come with certain costs, however. Sadly, the web is not all about benefits – there are serious problems associated with unlimited access to the worldwide web.
Allowing unlimited internet availability to all members of staff has repeatedly been shown to cause problems across a wide range of businesses. The hazards can range from time wasted on gambling while supposedly working – to the serious loss of sensitive data.
These sorts of dilemmas have prompted many businesses to opt to use some sort of web filter system. That’s why this area of internet technology has developed rapidly.
This means that any company considering installing a web filter should look at all the available options first. The latest options are very sophisticated – and very effective.
It might pay to consult a leading commercial digital network security specialist. For example, Perimeter 81 offers cloud based web filtering that could solve all a business’s internet access issues without the pitfalls of an older system.
First let’s look at the issues involved in web filtering:
What exactly is a web filter?
Everyone understands spam filters that are now commonplace ways of stopping junk emails clogging up in-boxes. These systems stand guard on all of a business’s email terminals, preventing the flood of mass sales and scam messages.
A web filter is a similar system but operates on internet access instead of email. It forms an invisible barrier between end users and all the possible dangers and distractions of the internet.
It operates like a child security lock on the internet. On a simple level, a filter can be set to control which sites can be accessed and which are restricted.
Businesses can decide in advance which sites are not suitable for access from work. These NSFW sites can easily be blocked.
The filter can also act to ban phishing websites and potential malware downloads. Even pop-up advertising or long time-consuming videos can waste staff and company time.
Why does a business need a web filter?
Block inappropriate content
Obviously, we’re used to public bodies like schools and libraries not allowing terminal users to access whatever material they want, like hate sites or disgusting videos. Similarly, in the interests of efficiency and harmonious workplace many businesses find it helpful to block access to inappropriate content like pornography, violence, gambling, or gaming.
Avoid online dangers
Of course, there are serious risks to any business from phishing attacks and malware. They appear to be growing.
A web filter can act as a barrier against these dangers. It can also give warning to a business’s web administrators about untoward traffic.
By blocking data heavy internet usage – like video streaming – a web filter can protect the overall business access to internet material. There can be limited bandwidth available to be shared among all users so a filter is a way of ensuring there will always be sufficient capacity for all legitimate users.
Many employees may consider a quick check on their social media hardly merits attention. But repeated ‘checks’ across a large business operation can add to a major loss of productivity.
A web filter can prevent that problem and tackle similar issues with dating, gambling, sports and gaming sites.
Protect from legal issues
A business could be liable if a member of staff accesses the internet for illegal purposes. Even unauthorised music downloads or streaming could cause legal problems.
A web filter is easily able to avoid these issues by being set to block any file sharing sites.
Even if you allow all end users free web access it could be useful to monitor which sites are being accessed and for how long. A web filter will provide that facility.
It could help a human resources department or identify security issues. This may be useful information across the management of all staff, not just individuals.
How does a web filter work?
The web filtering process could happen by using a physical device. All internet traffic is routed through it and an internet admin controls what can and cannot pass through.
More modern systems offer a cloud-based system. This means that there is no physical device but filtering still takes place – in the cloud.
This level of digital technology can operate at the initial DNS stage of any internet request, meaning the filtration is immediate. It is so fast there is no delay in normal operation.
Most systems are set up with various lists and categories. These can be established to block categories of sites or specific URLs.
The most sophisticated systems can analyse web content and monitor keywords on request pages and apply filters accordingly.
Filtering web content and traffic can give a business all the positive benefits of the internet – while avoiding the potential downsides.
Sophisticated filtering systems can monitor and block web usage. The filter can be accurate enough to act on keywords or certain detailed categories of search, URL and content.
It can also be set to alert managers of any security intrusions, attempts to view harmful content or breach data protocols. Web filtering can provide an extra layer of security – as well as boosting productivity.
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