Why do you need web filtering solutions?

Why do you need web filtering solutions?

Today, there are new cybersecurity minimums that every business should have. However, with Athens Micro as your IT partner, you don’t have to settle for minimums, thanks to our Cybersecurity Protection Packages.
 
Our Cybersecurity Protection Package 1 includes web filtering, which you’ll learn more of in this post.

Businesses rely on the internet to conduct eCommerce, connect with customers, and use cloud- and web-based services like Trello for project management.

However, internet privileges can be misused. For instance, staff members can log into their personal social media accounts and waste company time, while cybercriminals can use it to spread devastating malware, such as ransomware.

Thankfully, there is a tool that can keep costly work distractions and cyberthreats at bay: web filtering. Essentially, web filtering screens internet traffic through your network so that only permitted traffic gets in.

Let’s take a look at what web filtering does and why you need it.

Web filtering screens internet traffic through your network so that only permitted traffic gets in.

What does web filtering enable you to do?

Below are the most important functions of web filtering. Do keep in mind that the term “devices” may refer to company-issued machines, those personally owned by users, or both.

Web access control

You can use web filtering to block websites individually (i.e., based on their URL), according to their IP address, or by their content category. Granular permissions grant users more freedom of access, but blocking or permitting access to URLs one by one is more tedious than doing it categorically (more on this later). Blocking IP addresses is useful for shielding your company from suspicious activities that appear to be originating from those locations.

Web filters also classify or categorize websites according to what users can do there — and you can use filters to block entire categories of websites. For example, if you don’t want your employees to upload documents into sites like Google Drive, then you can choose to block the “file upload/file share” category. Blocking by category may be less labor-intensive, but it tends to be too restrictive and often necessitates making exceptions.

There are three main ways to establish web access control:

  • Explicit deny – Permit everything except for what is on the Block list.
  • Implicit deny – Restrict access to everything except for what is on the Allow list.
  • Categorical blocking with exceptions – Block all sites belonging to a category but permit access to those on an allowed list.

It is also important to note that web filter settings may be configured differently across users, devices, and departments. To illustrate, people in finance may have to be barred from social media sites, but those in marketing may need to use such sites extensively for their promotional campaigns and engagement initiatives.

App installations and launch permissions

Some apps may be used by black hat hackers to deliver malware. To keep your staff from inadvertently letting malware into your system via such apps, have a vetting protocol in place and build an app blocklist and/or an allow list as you go.

Here are some settings for app blocklists:

  • Installation blacklist – This bars users from installing listed apps and uninstalls such apps if they’re already on a device. This and other uninstall protocols are ideal for company-issued devices but not necessarily for personal ones.
  • Launch blacklist – This allows blacklisted apps to be installed on a device but prevents these from being displayed so that users can’t open them while they’re on your network.
  • Launch prevention list – This permits blacklisted apps to be installed but prevents them from launching, even if the user taps their icons.

And here are some settings for app allow lists:

  • App installation whitelist – Apps that came preloaded with the device and those deployed via mobile device management (MDM) programs are included in the list of permitted apps. Other apps may be added to the list, but if a filter finds an installed app that isn’t on the list, the filter removes it.
  • Launch whitelist – Only apps on the list — which includes preloaded and MDM-deployed apps — may be launched by the user.
  • Uninstall prevention list – This forbids users from uninstalling apps on the list.

Network port closure

The more open ports your network has, the greater its vulnerability to cyberattacks. Web filters can reduce this risk by blocking idle or unused ports. To block a port is to deny all traffic to it. However, if an external computer still tries to access a blocked port, the web filter can then proceed to block that machine itself.

Web filtering is an effective way to maintain the productivity of your staff and keep your network safe from cyberthreats. To discover more about web filtering and other effective cybersecurity solutions, talk to our IT specialists at Athens Micro. Send us a message or call us toll-free at 1-866-262-4461.

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