BEWARE: Web Browsing Can Cripple Your Business

Security Web Content Filtering

Security Web Content Filtering

The Internet is now a huge resource of information and plays an increasingly important role in business. However, without adequate controls in place, companies are likely to be faced with a broad range of issues. These range from excessive personal use of the Internet during business impacting staff productivity to legal risks if users access inappropriate content. Then came Web Content Filtering solutions.

In the early days of Web Content Filtering it was enough to configure a firewall to block certain sites from being accessed.  Companies would enforce a blacklist of forbidden sites and update that list from time to time. This method did not offer deep packet inspection and only filtered Internet access based on a domain name.

A modern and effective Web Content Filtering solution scans more than the domain name. By breaking down and analyzing web traffic, today’s filters are capable of accurately pinpointing portions of a web page that should not be allowed into the internal network. This allows websites to be accessed while blocking the portions of their content that is deemed unsafe by the filtering solution.

Why filter? Because granting your employees unfettered Internet access can open your company up to a host of problems, including:

  • Productivity Loss
  • Security risks
  • Legal issues

I will delve into each of the above:

Productivity Loss

A security breach due to lack of web content filtering will undoubtedly affect your employee productivity. By the same token, an ineffective or badly configured web content filter can block legitimate content that is needed by your employees to do their job, affecting productivity in a very different manner.

A good web content filter acts very much like a sieve, allowing legitimate data to come through and bad data to be stopped. This means that a requested web page with some forbidden content will still load, but with some bits missing. This will allow the user to get the parts of the web page that are needed while still remaining protected.

 Security Risks

With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, websites are now mash-ups of content that is aggregated from many other sites. This scenario adds complexity to filtering websites based on domain names alone. In particular, it opens up new avenues of attack for hackers and virus writers who are becoming increasingly successful at compromising syndicated feeds. If just one feed of data is compromised, all the websites that pull in that feed will deliver malicious code to their trusted users.

An effective content filtering solution will judge incoming web data based on its content and not its source alone. Malicious content that is smuggled into trusted sites will still be detected and filtered out, thus protecting the internal network.

Legal Issues

There are clear legal implications for all of the directors / officers in the organisation. Employers could be responsible for their employees’ activities when using the Internet and in order to avoid being held liable for employees’ actions (such as obtaining or distributing illegal, pornographic, or racist material which might be offensive to colleagues) employers must be able to prove that they have a policy in place to prevent illegal actions and that appropriate steps are taken to enforce this policy.

If a reputable web content filtering solution is in place, an organization will be protected against this type of threat. Pornography and copyrighted material is blocked using standard filters. A web content filtering solution from a trusted vendor will also protect you legally because it shows your commitment to stopping this type of crime in your workplace.

Summary

Web content filtering is a crucial part of protecting your business, particularly from the standpoints of employee productivity ,security and legal liability, Because of the complexity of websites today, content must be constantly monitored and filtered in order to keep your business secure. Having an effective web content filtering strategy that aligns with your internet monitoring software will ensure you are protected legally, boost your data security, and improve your employees’ productivity. Don’t let your web browsing shackle your business.

What is your experience in dealing with the challenges above? Do drop your comments and share your experience.