Virtually every business today relies on internet access for its operations. But with cybersecurity threats posing a constant risk, it’s often easier to completely block access to specific sites and online activities with web content filtering. That way, if users try to or accidentally navigate to blocked sites, they’ll find they can’t access them. This eliminates many threats altogether.
With flexible configurations, web content filters can be adapted to the needs of any business, regardless of industry or size. And if implemented correctly, these solutions will immediately improve your overall IT security.
Here are six reasons your business needs to set up web content filtering.
Without filtering suspicious URLs, your company is at a greater risk of cyberattacks such as malware and phishing. Per the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center 2021 Annual Report, various forms of phishing have been on the rise for the last five years. In 2021 alone, they nearly quadrupled the next-most frequent attack.
When cybercriminals deploy malware or phishing attempts, they often lure unsuspecting targets into clicking on URLs that link to malicious websites. If your employees don’t realize that a given website is malicious, they may unknowingly provide sensitive information (e.g., login credentials). Instead, with web content filtering implemented, your staff can’t expose your business to those threats because the malicious sites are blocked.
Tools like Microsoft Defender for Endpoint provide practical illustrations of the protections offered by web content filtering. It works by building a profile of web activity based on IP addresses that access specific networks, enabling you to:
Web content filtering provides one of the most surefire ways to keep up with emerging web threats in today’s fast-changing IT landscape.
Web content filtering is always most effective when implemented alongside security awareness training. Educating your employees on cybersecurity best practices equips them with the knowledge to identify malicious websites based on factors such as their SSL certificates.
However, not every business has the means to conduct frequent cybersecurity training sessions. And unfortunately, having informed employees doesn’t eliminate all mistakes. All it takes is one employee unknowingly clicking on a malicious URL in a phishing email or providing sensitive information on an unsecured website for a cybercriminal to launch a devastating attack.
You are far better positioned to prevent malware and phishing attacks from unfolding with a properly configured web content filter for extra security. If employees fail to identify a malicious website, the web content filter protects your business from potential threats.
Besides protecting your organization from threats, web content filtering is crucial to safeguarding your users from sites containing unsafe content. It will also help enforce internal policies overseeing appropriate workplace behavior.
According to Microsoft, a web content filtering policy prevents users on your networks from accessing content categories that include:
One effective way to leverage web filtering is to limit which results are provided by search engines when users search for keywords in the above content categories. Moreover, even if a particular site isn’t blocked, a web filter will log the URL for future review to help determine if it should be.
If you notice that some employees are distracted by browsing certain websites and are consequently less productive, it might be time for a web content filter. For example, if some employees in your business endlessly browse social media websites or watch YouTube videos during business hours, web content filtering can help limit these distractions.
Ultimately, your web content filtering needs will vary based on your specific type of business or industry. For example, a marketing agency that depends on social media to reach clients would not benefit from a blanket filter prohibiting all of them.
Web content filtering helps limit personnel’s unproductive time regardless of which sites are blocked.
Web content filtering can also help reclaim the bandwidth your business may be losing when users access some websites. For example, sites that stream high-quality videos take up extensive bandwidth that could otherwise be reduced—except if it is explicitly required for business purposes (e.g., webinars and training). Some solutions allow for configurable quotas (e.g., one hour per day) that would enable employees to use them for limited durations.
Leveraging web content filters to reduce losses in bandwidth can help speed up priority downloads, keep web conferencing stable and improve overall connection speeds.
Compliance regulations may require your business to implement web content filtering, depending on your industry.
For industries like healthcare which face high risks of cybersecurity threats, web content filtering can help prevent data breaches. In fact, compliance with the Healthcare Insurance Portability Accountability Privacy Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare and healthcare-adjacent organizations to set up web content filters as data protection mechanisms.
Similarly, adhering to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires educational institutions and libraries to implement safeguards that prevent children from accessing unsafe web content. In some cases, such as with CIPA, regulatory compliance may be a requirement to secure federal funding for your business.
In today’s increasingly complex IT landscape, web content filtering is a must-have for companies to protect their devices from cybersecurity threats. But implementing and configuring web protection can sometimes be challenging, especially when businesses operate in a remote work environment.
Fortunately, Helixstorm’s managed IT services can help you secure your networks from all kinds of web threats. In addition, our cybersecurity experts will help optimize your IT security solutions and mitigate risks before vulnerabilities and exploits become full-scale cyberattacks.
Contact us today to learn about web content filtering and its applications for your business.