Internet Content filtering in the workplace is no longer just about blocking access to inappropriate, illegal and dangerous Websites. Businesses are continuing to leverage social media technologies in innovative and evolving ways to promote their business interests and to keep in touch with customers. This includes such pervasive technologies as email, video conferencing, chatting, Instant Messaging and blogging.
There are however, significant risks posed by providing employees unfettered access to Internet content, not least of which are an increase of malware infection and inadvertent disclosure of confidential and sensitive information. Users might visit websites that are infected with viruses or spyware and activate software that puts the corporate network at risk to the hacking and stealing of corporate data. Irreputable websites such as some popular file/music sharing sites can install programs that can expose computers to back-door attacks and trojans. According to a survey from Websense in 2011, more that 50% of respondents reported an increase in virus and malware attacks as a result of employees’ use of social media in the workplace.
Achieving the required control over Internet access requires a dynamic and granular content filter that can block not only entire websites but can even ferret out harmful activities or applications within a specific website. They also should be able to scan and interpret the traffic flow down to the bits and bytes level at the point of entry to the network, for any recognized forms of malware or intrusions, based on updated databases of known threats.
While many client based programs can be installed on user’s computers to provide content filtering, a network based solution is most effective at preventing internet based security threats. A centralized network based solution operates at the entry point into the network, eliminating redundancies, preventing users from bypassing it, and providing a central point for management and reporting.
Many traditional hardware Firewalls have evolved into full featured Threat Management Appliances that feature a comprehensive set of security protections. One notable firewall company, favored in the Small to Medium sized businesses space, is Sonicwall. Their line of UTM (Universal Threat Management) appliances bundle traditional firewall functionality together with Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Intrusion Prevention and a robust Content Filter into a single device. Their Content Filter database contains over 20 million URLs, IP addresses and domains which are continuously updated, and dynamically rated with thousands more added daily. The ratings are determined by both artificial intelligence and human observation, making the database highly accurate while significantly minimizing the rate of false positives. It functions as a policy-based system either blocking all pre-defined categories or any combination of categories, and applies these policies on a granular level.
Properly designed Content Filters can provide a low maintenance, proactive level of protection in the workplace, by preventing a myriad of threats posed by interactive web based content such as social media, while giving users the level of internet access they have come to expect.
With further questions about content filtering and internet use in the workplace, contact Superior Technology Solutions. We look forward to sharing our extensive technology background with your organization. For more information, visit us on the web at www.superiortechnologysolutions.com or call us at 845-735-3555.
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