logo
TitanHQ

Top 6 Key Advantages of Web Filtering in the Cloud

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Tue, Mar 22nd, 2022

Cloud computing is transforming the enterprise IT landscape at a rapid pace. Business applications, infrastructure and platforms are increasingly migrating to the cloud. Traditional IT hardware expenditure and maintenance is giving way to services that can be turned on or off on demand. These services can scale elastically as the business needs change.  Enterprise security, particularly cloud based web filtering and email security, is rapidly being adopted as a cloud based service.

In 2001, author Jeremy Rifkin released the book, The Age of Access, which introduced the idea that we are entering a new era in human civilization and business in which ownership of assets is no longer a winning strategy. He argued that as long as you have access to an asset, who owns it is irrelevant. Says Rifkin, “Ownership of physical capital, however, once the heart of the industrial way of life, becomes increasingly marginal to the economic process. Concepts, ideas, and images—not things—are the real items of value in the new economy.”

Consumers have enjoyed the benefits of subscribing rather than buying when it comes to items such as a cell phone or a TV satellite dish for many years. The cloud is now allowing this on a grand scale when it comes to server infrastructure. A business doesn’t need to own a datacenter any longer, it just needs access to one. As Forbes Magazine wrote in 2014, “The world’s most advanced technologies are not only available to large enterprises who can afford to maintain an expensive IT staff, but can be accessed by anybody with an internet connection.”  Somehow we have reached a time in which on premise datacenter with a full IT support staff is no longer an inherent advantage for larger enterprises.

The exponential growth of cloud computing providers such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure illustrate the fact that enterprise organizations recognize the value that the cloud provides today. In a similar fashion, Software as a Service, or SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com and Office 365 have firmly established application cloud hosting as an attractive alternative to on-premise hosting.

Discover how WebTitan Cloud-based DNS filter works to protect your business from advanced security threats.

Book Free Demo

Cloud-based web filtering

In today’s climate, there are a variety of different industries and organizations that use web filtering to provide a safe browsing experience. Employing a mobile workforce grants internet access to employees and contractors alike who use corporate, mobile and personal devices. All of which has the potential to open up the network to threats. Threats that are not only inappropriate for work but can also be used as a medium for malware and phishing scams.

A cloud-based web filter can protect against all that by blocking harmful sights from being accessed. Not only does this apply to obvious sites like pornography and gaming sites, but also to seemingly more innocuous sites that users might be unaware of. Web filters can ensure safe browsing for everyone on your network by interfacing with browsers to block restricted websites.

How Does Cloud-Based Web Filtering Work?

In order to protect your network from being harmed by malicious sites, cloud-based web filters will allow or deny access to sites based on your safe lists and block lists. These lists are also known as whitelists and blacklists. These lists will allow the filter to assess each site for criteria that will determine whether it is a safe site or whether that site will be blocked. This can sometimes restrict access to sites that are actually necessary to a person's work causing IT departments to become overwhelmed with exception requests.

This is where block lists come into play. Using filters, a block list will determine whether a site meets the criteria necessary to allow access to a user. These criteria can be based on a URL, keyword, or rating. URL filters are typically used to block time-wasting sites like social media or gaming sites that stand to impede productivity. Keyword filters will actively scan all sites for content and decide to block the site when keywords are identified.

Rating filters will assess which category a site has been rated with and base the blocking decision on that. While most filters come with a standard list of URLs, keywords, and ratings these can be further amended based on the needs of the organization. Typically they strive to block sites that feature pornography, gambling, or violence. Most filters have used the Bayesian analysis method to gradually learn more about undesirable sites and emails.

Recent evolutions in cloud-based web filtering have started to replace the Bayesian method with artificial intelligence machine learning. Through machine learning, artificial intelligence will quickly learn on its own which sites contain undesirable content, making it a much more effective and user-friendly experience.

Let’s review some of the heralded benefits of cloud computing and see how they apply to cloud based web filtering solutions.

Reduced CapEx

As Rifkin surmised, owning a data center full of hardware is no longer an inherent advantage.  Hardware requires an upfront investment in equipment.  The problem with purchasing equipment is the fact that you have to buy for tomorrow which means you must overprovision your hardware in order to meet the forecasted needs (also called an educated guess) four or five years from now.  The allure of the cloud is that organizations only pay for the resources they currently use, allowing them to divert investment capital to revenue generating projects.  Costs simply adjust as demand fluctuates.

Cloud-based service clears away the concerns over the cost of ownership

When you subscribe to a web filtering service, you don’t pay any upfront costs for hardware.  You don’t have to predict what your demand for filtering services will be in five years.  Cloud-based service clears away the concerns over cost of ownership by having a fixed and predictable cost.

Many governments and education organizations can’t take advantage of variable cost cloud structures due to strict annual budget practices they must follow.  Cloud-based web filtering provides the best of both worlds in that it doesn’t require CapEx spending, but at the same time, offers a predictable subscription rate that can accommodate inflexible budgeting.  Cloud based solutions can provide enterprises with superior web and email protection at a 60% lower overall cost and simultaneously eliminate all the hassles of managing their own equipment.

Fluid Elasticity – what if your school system decides to implement a new tablet initiative?

Cloud computing is about agility and flexibility such as the ability to meet work flow demands in real time by increasing and decreasing capacity as needed in automated fashion.  It’s about having the facility to leverage your resources on a global scale that until now has been unimaginable. 

Many organizations are beginning the process of upgrading the data center to 10 Gbps.  If your web filtering appliance only accommodates 1 Gbps then you are forced to invest in another appliance.  What if your school system decides to implement a new one-to-one laptop or tablet initiative?  Can your current appliance handle the doubling or even tripling of your filtering requirements?  With a cloud web filtering solution, there is no worry about physical interfaces or scalability.  Cloud based web filtering will help your organization become more agile.

Greater Redundancy

Many businesses can’t justify the levels of redundancy that they would like for their enterprise.  Cloud computing allows small business the opportunity to take advantage of multiple redundancy layers that they could only dream of.  The same is true of web filtering.  Without a redundant solution, an appliance failure could result in malware infiltration, ransomware and phishing redirects.  For a school system it could result in hundreds of angry calls from parents inquiring as to why their children are surfing questionable web content.  Even if you have a redundant solution such as an active/passive cluster, it means that half of your invested resources are simply sitting idle, resulting in nonproductive capital. 

The cloud offers natural redundancy.  There is no need for multiple appliances.  A web filtering cloud solution just works.

Greater Labor Efficiencies and Productivity

The last thing your IT team needs is the added responsibility of updating the firmware and OS of another appliance.  In today’s hyper competitive economy in which IT must serve as a value added leader for their organizations, you don’t need your IT talent laboriously updating and troubleshooting devices.  With a cloud solution, you always get the latest and greatest release automatically, so that your IT teams can focus on value added projects.

This transition to cloud services is allowing businesses to focus on their customers and solutions and not on managing IT appliances or software. Web and email security, delivered as a cloud service is rapidly replacing on premise proxy servers, anti-spam appliances, web malware appliances, data loss prevention appliances, etc.

Distributed Organizations & the mobile workforce

The ubiquitous nature of the cloud is perfect for distributed enterprises and the mobile workforce. Most web filtering programs are easily adaptable to the needs of any user or organization. This is what makes it an ideal solution for a variety of different companies across a multitude of different sectors.

Who Needs Cloud-Based Web Filtering?

  • Companies

The internet is constantly changing the way companies do business. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to help businesses stay in touch with their employees, clients, and potential collaborators, no matter where they are. It is for this reason that cloud-based web filters are so imperative to the needs of your business. They allow a company to:

  • Protect employees whether they are accessing the network remotely or from the office.

  • Improve productivity by blocking time-wasting sites such as social media or dating sites.
  • Safeguard your network by blocking restricted sites with little to no lag time.
  • Schools

In recent years, online learning has become a popular solution for students of all ages. Unfortunately, younger students learning remotely can leave an entire school more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. By using a cloud-based web filter, a school can:

  • Ensure students are protected from hackers, scammers, and even cyberbullies.

  • Protect itself and its students from piracy tools and the legal ramifications associated with illegal goods.
  • Protect remote learners and provide them with the same secure network that they would receive in school.
  • Governments

Governments and public institutions are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the overwhelming amount of sensitive information their databases hold. Additionally, the large number of people they employ leaves them open to human error, which is one of the biggest causes of data leaks. Cloud-based web filtering programs can:

  • Allow institutions and administrators to exchange information and communicate safely with outside sources.

  • Create efficiency in the workplace by blocking distracting websites and applications.
  • Simplify legal conformity by adhering to country-specific blacklists and privacy laws.

To prevent data breaches and targeted attacks, distributed organizations of all sizes need the highest levels of security at every location, even where there are no onsite IT personnel.

Cloud based security is facilitating fast and agile deployments with little or no follow-on maintenance for enterprise IT. The cloud is inherently resilient with no single point of failure. The elasticity of the cloud allows enterprises to future-proof their security requirements without having to invest upfront in over-provisioned appliances. By eliminating the need for any hardware or additional software, upfront capital expenditure is negligible for cloud based security.

Discover how WebTitan Cloud-based DNS filter works to protect your business from advanced security threats.

Book Free Demo

Pros and Cons of Cloud Filtering

Just like any filtering system, cloud-based web filters have their own set of pros and cons. However, unlike in-house web filtering programs, cloud-based filters have far fewer issues to contend with. Let’s weigh the benefits and the downfalls of a cloud-based web filter.

Pro - Cloud-based software offers a wider range of scalability for the network, allowing organizations to change the size and capacity based on the needs of the business.

Con - a cloud-based web filter is still susceptible to DDoS attacks, similar to any other type of network-based program.

Pro - While cloud-based filters are still subject to this kind of attack, they are far more capable to weather the storm of a DDoS attack. Network-based programs often operate with fewer servers than their cloud-based counterparts, leaving them far more susceptible to shutdowns due to data packet overload. This increase in uptime is an incredibly valuable feature of cloud-based web filters which can save an organization thousands of dollars.

Con - Cloud-based filtering often involves an organization sharing its traffic data with a third-party provider. While this may not be a problem for some organizations, for industries like education, government, healthcare, and banking this might be an issue as they are beholden to data privacy laws that prohibit them from sharing this data. This might mean that a cloud-based solution isn’t an option and only an in-house filtering program can be used.

Pro - Cloud-based solutions are far more affordable, often saving an organization on the cost of servers to host the program, electricity to run the servers, and additional staffing to oversee the servers.

What we are seeing is that, provided your organization does not have regulations prohibiting third-party traffic data sharing, cloud-based web filtering is faster, affordable, more reliable, and safer, making this a no-brainer.

But now that we have decided on a could-based filtering solution for our organization, how do we know who to trust with the safety, security, and privacy of our organization? Let’s take a look at one of the top cloud-based web filter providers, WebTitan by TitanHQ.

What are the Key Elements When Considering A Cloud-Based Web Filter?

With a vast majority of our personal and professional content being stored on cloud-based services, it’s important to know the threats that might come along with that. It’s even more important to know how to protect yourself from those threats. Just as cybercriminals can find vulnerabilities in your email to target you with, they can also target the vulnerabilities in your cloud service. Not protecting yourself and your cloud-based content could open you up to illegal and inappropriate content flooding your user experience. Luckily, cloud-based web filtering has become just as prevalent as email spam filtering, but how does it work? First, let’s talk more about what a cloud-based web filter is and what it does.

What are the Benefits of Using WebTitan?

Many different organizations around the world have already entrusted the safety and security of their organizations to WebTitan. But why WebTitan? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using WebTitan for your cloud-based web filtering needs.

Malware Blocking

You can count on WebTitan to not only block malware, but also ransomware, phishing, viruses, and malicious sites.

Content Filtering

Scans all incoming and outgoing information for malicious content to stop it at the source.

Flexibility

You have the freedom to create and change the policies to suit the needs of your business.

BYOD Security

Organizations are safe to implement a bring-your-own-device policy ensuring the safety of their employees, clients, and contractors as well as the organization itself.

Scalable and Fast

No matter what the scope and volume of your organization’s needs, WebTitan can increase or decrease the size and capacity based on the needs of the business.

Reporting

A variety of different reports will be made available to help determine the ongoing needs of an individual organization.

Phishing Prevention

WebTitan offers AI-powered protection against existing and emerging threats, including phishing URLs and zero-minute threats.

Malicious Detection

Real-time monitoring of malicious threats with unparalleled speed, scale, and accuracy.

Real-Time Updates

Emerging threats are identified immediately to provide maximum security against newly identified and zero-hour threats.

These are just some of the ways your organization will benefit from using WebTitan. To keep your organization protected from the most harmful and malicious threats that exist and are emerging, trust the reliable content filtering of WebTitan. Don’t take our word for it though. Sign up for your demo today to experience the safety and security of a cloud-based web filter like WebTitan.

Discover how WebTitan Cloud-based DNS filter works to protect your business from advanced security threats.

Book Free Demo

Never Miss a Blog Post

Sign-up for email updates...

Free Demo
TitanHQ

Talk to Our Email and DNS Security Team

Call us on USA +1 813 304 2544 or IRL +353 91 545555

Contact Us