3 tips for protecting your business with web filtering

It’s a tool that’s needed to fight increasingly sophisticated hackers

When you think of web filtering what is the first visual that comes to mind? For me it’s pop-ups and notifications to update my antivirus. Today’s web filtering capabilities have become more sophisticated, and so have the hackers attempting to infect your system.

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, cybercrime costs have increased by 19 percent. Let’s break down three tips for protecting your business with web filtering.

1. Don’t be frugal with your filtering software

Similar to purchasing insurance on your business, good web filters offer additional coverage for your network. You should be on the lookout for software with keyword blocking, malware filtering, social media monitoring, redirects, P2P blocking, BYOD support, user notifications, 24/7 software support and much more.

You may also want to look into software that eliminates anonymous proxies or allows your organization to block specific sites related to gambling, gaming, streaming media or any site category that should not be accessed during work hours.

All of these features are limited when you use free web filtering services. To feel peace of mind, it’s important to put a little investment into your web filtering tools.

Additionally, the extra layer of coverage may prevent an internal, yet unintentional, threat to occur because your employee landed on a bad website. In fact, according to a study by Kansas State University, roughly 60 to 80 percent of employee time is spent surfing non-work related websites. Essentially the money you spend on your web filtering software could pay off tenfold in productivity if you limit some commonly surfed websites.

2. Make filtering a requirement for all employee devices

This may seem like an obvious statement but with today’s flex scheduling and mobility it’s easy for older devices to get overlooked. Consider using a web filtering tool that allows you to deploy updates across multiple platforms.

The best filters allow you to manage these devices through a central dashboard and make updates, or see traffic, on an as-needed basis. While we aren’t encouraging a Big Brother mentality, it’s good to know you can see the whole picture and focus on a problem before it becomes a threat.

Another great feature of this type of filtering tool is disaster recovery. If your web filtering platform is located in a cloud environment you can access your dashboard anytime, anywhere. For chief technology officers on the go, this is also a productivity plus in the event of a potential threat.

3. Understand the basics

You may not be an IT manager or CTO, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid learning how web filtering works. At its core, web filtering is established to screen incoming traffic from the web and determine whether it should be displayed – or blocked. It is also important to understand that web filters are not a replacement for quality antivirus and anti-malware software. While some web filters can block site-related malware, most viruses and malware are transmitted via email or corrupted file downloads.

It’s also helpful to understand a few of the terms mentioned in the first section of this article.

For example: blocking redirects can prevent typo squatters from redirecting your search terms to unrelated sites that host malware. A typo squatter will change a URL from its known link to a similar URL that may have one additional letter (usually a consonant).

Another basic web filtering term is “anonymous proxies.” These are tools that blind activity to the internet, making it untraceable. These proxies are typically used to mask malicious activity on the internet and block the location of a specific threat.

If you find that many of the terms mentioned in your web filtering research are too technical we recommend using a glossary like the one found on techtarget.com. This helpful tool is also handy when you’re researching other IT security tools such as backup, antivirus, operation systems, and more.

There is no question you need a web filtering tool. Now that you’re armed with the resources and understanding to purchase your tool, we recommend you act immediately on this task. Your employees are landing on thousands of websites a day and the liability falls on the organization to protect your data, your network and your brand.

Erik Murphy is virtual chief information officer of strategic accounts for SymQuest. He is based in Keene.