What Is a Cloud Web Filter?Home / What Is a Cloud Web Filter?
In today’s tech-centric world, the internet has become the lifeline of business survival. The World Wide Web has completely transformed the way we live and work, ushering in a new era of digitization that has irrevocably changed the face of the business.
While internet usage has grown exponentially, so has the number of threats it presents to individual users and businesses alike.
Cybersecurity threats, for instance, have become a major problem for businesses. Research shows that 1 in every 13 requests leads to malware. That fact makes internet security a critical priority for businesses of all sizes.
Yet, inexplicably, many organizations don’t use web filtering solutions to protect their data. Some organizations are stuck with antiquated legacy systems that can’t address the challenges of an evolving threat landscape.
So, what can organizations do to protect themselves from online threats? One feasible solution is to leverage cloud web filtering. This article will explore cloud-based web filtering for businesses and explain why email filtering is important.
Web filtering uses technology tools to stop users from viewing certain websites by preventing their browsers from loading pages from those sites.
A web filter will analyze the web applications accessed by users and restrict access to inappropriate sites or domains deemed inappropriate or malicious by the admin.
Unlike software-based filtering options, cloud-based web filtering provides an easy yet cost-effective way to manage filtering activities. Like other deployment options, cloud-based web filtering employs a three-tier mechanism to block access to risky websites.
Moreover, cloud-based web filter solutions have a high degree of granularity. This allows network admins to create and apply user policies by individual users or groups.
In general, web filters work in two ways. They can block content by consulting known lists which document sites deemed malicious. Or they can assess the content of the page live and block it accordingly if it contains malicious content or content-type flagged by the admin.
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According to Spamlaw’s data, a staggering 45% of emails are spam messages—and that number is rising. While many people think of spam messages as unsolicited promotions, cybercriminals can also use them to get hold of valuable servers and sensitive user data.
To prevent filling your inbox with spam messages, major email providers have built-in spam filters that move “questionable” emails to the spam folder. Sometimes, these folders are set to automatically delete content in that particular folder after a specific period.
Spam emails can be annoying because, in most cases, they attempt to sell a product or convince the user to donate to a cause.
Phishing emails, on the other hand, pose a serious risk to the security of the user. They seek to steal the user’s information for malevolent means. Once a person’s confidential information is acquired through phishing emails, it can be used to commit financial fraud.
Email filtering services exist to monitor and flag phishing emails.
Such services filter an organization’s inbound and outbound email traffic. Rather than just having generic spam filters enabled, email filtering platforms can scan and group emails into different categories, including spam, virus, malware, imposter, adult, suspicious links, etc.
Other advantages of using a professional, cloud-based email filter include.
Malware threats delivered via spam can hurt your business in many ways, including damaging your brand reputation. Professional anti-spam protection is far more efficient than the generic filters provided by email providers.
Plus, most professional email filters are cloud-based services. This means they can stop spam before it gets to your network or server. Most importantly, cloud-based email filtering services use industry-leading encryption and security best practices.
Protection against viruses is perhaps the number one reason you should consider using a professional email filter service.
Spam emails are not just a marketing medium. Some of them contain malicious links that can be used to steal users’ confidential data or even lock them out of the system. Cloud-based email filtering services offer advanced threat detection that helps to keep hackers at bay.
Email filtering services can save employees time, leading to more productivity. Employees don’t have to go through a mountain of emails to determine which ones are spam, as sometimes that can be difficult to decide.
Scalability is another advantage of cloud-based email filtering solutions. Organizations can quickly scale the number of users up and down.
Moreover, professional email filtering solutions can handle an extensive range of DDoS attacks. Since a third-party filter scans emails before they reach the server, threats are detected and thwarted before reaching the inbox.
If a company’s email server goes down, many third-party email filters allow users to access their email from their server. This can be beneficial to an organization should there be an unexpected or lengthy server interruption.
There are four different types of web filtering.
Keyword-based web filtering restricts access to sites bearing specific keywords phrases in text strings. These keywords are identified using regular expressions (regex) or a predefined list of flagged keywords.
Site admins may use keyword filtering to prevent users from accessing inappropriate content online. However, there’s a high likelihood of blocking legitimate sites with this approach.
When users want to access a specific page, they type in a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) such as titanhq.com or titanhq.com/blog/ into the address bar.
URL filtering prevents or allows access to specific web pages or websites based on these URLs. To make blocking an entire website easier, URL filtering allows for wild card filtering, which blocks the whole website unless some exceptions are added to the list.
Category web filtering is used to block websites based on content type.
It can be used to restrict access to sites based on categories such as hate, violence, pornography, social media, etc. To achieve this, a web filtering program references a centralized database that associates websites with such categories.
Blocking websites using DNS is similar to web filtering using a URL filter.
Both approaches allow users to enter a website into the block list of the web filtering software to prevent access to the website. The only difference is that DNS filtering blocks the entire domain. It can’t block access to websites based on URLs.
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An effective cloud web filter is a crucial component of any organization. If a filter isn’t up to scratch, employees might access sites that will negatively impact their productivity. In the worst-case scenario, it may expose your company and employees to cybersecurity threats.
The best cloud-based web filter provides protection from both HTTP and HTTPS threats as well as DNS filtering control to businesses. While the market is ripe with a host of web filtering solutions, we’d recommend WebTitan for any company serious about web filtering.
A cloud web filter analyzes web applications accessed by users and prevents access to inappropriate sites or domains deemed inappropriate or malicious by the admin.
Organizations use web filtering to prevent employees from accessing web content like viruses and malware and content inappropriate for the workplace. They also use email filtering services to scan incoming emails for spam and online threats, as well as organize the messages into different categories or folders.
If you’d like to experience the benefits of a cloud-based web filter, get in touch with us today or sign up for a demo. Our team of professional technicians will help answer all your questions and guide you through the process of signing up for your free trial or viewing a demo.
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Cloud-based web filtering prevents employees and contractors from accessing inappropriate or malicious content (e.g. gaming or adult content) through company network resources. Administrators can control browsing habits by blocking content from loading in the browser when using corporate resources. It also blocks users from loading malicious web pages through embedded links in phishing emails. Combining email filtering and web content filtering significantly reduces the risk of data breaches.
On-premises web filtering solutions are cumbersome and difficult to upgrade. Cloud web filtering solutions are a convenient alternative to on-premises solutions. They provide global coverage for all enterprise offices and allow for easier maintenance and upgrades. Being cloud-based, they offer accessibility for users, including remote employees and contractors. These solutions are flexible, rapidly deployable, and come with default configurations.
Hosted web filter solutions provide ease of management for administrators without the need for hardware configurations and maintenance. By running in a cloud provider's data center, these solutions offer quick deployment without expensive on-premises installations. They can be deployed globally without impacting performance, allowing remote employees and contractors to connect to cloud resources. This convenience is beneficial for businesses with multiple offices across different geolocations.
Leaving business users with unrestricted internet access poses significant cybersecurity risks. A cloud-based content filtering solution safeguards businesses by blocking malicious web pages, inappropriate content, and non-business-related sites from the corporate network. With this, businesses are protected from malicious pages used to phish for employee credentials, and it blocks drive-by downloads used to install malware on a corporate workstation.
A few features available in WebTitan products are crucial to enterprise-level data protection and cybersecurity. The DNS filter technology blocks web page access before the user can query and retrieve data from the domain. This feature saves on network resources and avoids bypasses. With cloud hosting, administrators can more quickly deploy it across the entire environment. It is also flexible with configurations to meet necessary compliance and business requirements.
A content filter solution blocks malicious web pages, phishing pages, drive-by malware downloads, and any domain known for hosting suspicious content. It also blocks adult-related or gaming content that might not be appropriate for a business environment. The WebTitan solution is a DNS-based filtering solution, which means it blocks malicious domains during a query on a nameserver. By blocking queries at this phase of loading a web page, businesses lower the risks of employee-based attacks.
Phishing is one of the most common methods in cyber-attacks, but with a cloud-based filtering service, businesses can block users from accessing web pages in an email’s embedded links. Users that fall for a phishing link might click the link, but they won’t be able to see the web page. Some malicious emails link to a download file containing malware, and the same cloud web filtering service will block users from downloading the file. WebTitan blocks malicious URLs included in phishing attacks.
Cyber-criminals use several methods to install ransomware on a business workstation, but the most common is using email. Phishing tricks users into installing ransomware through malicious domain links, but cloud web filtering solutions block access to these domains and files. Cloud web filtering solutions like WebTitan block access at the DNS level, so the business uses fewer network resources to block malicious domains. Because it’s in the cloud, administrators can more easily maintain it.
The WebTitan cloud-based URL filtering solution blocks domains and malicious web pages based on threat intelligence. Combined with the SpamTitan solution, WebTitan reduces the risks of a data breach from users clicking on embedded links in a malicious email and browsing sites known to host suspicious content. A good cloud-based URL filtering solution blocks at the DNS level, so users can’t bypass filtering technology from outdated filters or platforms that don’t have good threat intelligence.
WebTitan is maintained on the backend and requires little interaction from business administrators. Its services are more easily deployed across large enterprise environments as they can be hosted in data centers accessible across the globe. Administrators need to configure the filtering solution, but most of the out-of-the-box configurations are adequate for businesses. The flexible configurations cater to specific business requirements without needing extensive knowledge of content filtering.