Why is Web Filtering Important?
Web filtering provides an organization with the ability to control the locations where users are browsing, which is important for a number of reasons:
- Malware Protection: Phishing and other malicious sites can be used to deliver malware and other malicious content to users’ computers. Web filtering makes it possible for an organization to block access to websites that pose a threat to company and user security.
- Data Security: Phishing sites are commonly intended to steal user credentials and other sensitive data. By blocking access to these pages, an organization limits the risk that such data will be leaked or breached.
- Regulatory Compliance: Companies are responsible for complying with a growing number of data protection regulations, which mandate that they protect certain types of data from unauthorized access. With web filtering, an organization can manage access to sites that are likely to try to steal protected data and ones that may be used intentionally or unintentionally to leak data (such as social media or personal cloud storage).
- Policy Enforcement: Web filtering enables an organization to enforce corporate policies for web usage. All types of web filtering can be used to block inappropriate use of corporate resources, such as visiting sites containing explicit content.
Types of Web Filtering
A web filtering service can work in a variety of ways. One of the ways by which web filtering solutions can be differentiated is by how they define acceptable content. Web filters can be defined in a few ways, including:
- Allow Listing: Allow lists are designed to specify the sites that a user, computer, or application is permitted to visit. All web traffic is compared to this list, and any requests with a destination not included on the list are dropped. This provides very strict control over the sites that can be visited.
- Block Listing: Block lists are the exact opposite of allow lists. Instead of specifying the sites that a user can visit, they list sites that should not be visited. With a blocklist, all traffic is inspected and any traffic to a destination on the list is dropped. This approach is commonly used to protect against known-bad locations, such as phishing sites, drive-by malware downloads, and inappropriate content.
- Content Filtering: Content and keyword filtering makes decisions whether to allow or block traffic based upon the content of a webpage. For example, an organization may have filters in place to block visits to sites containing explicit content. When a request is made, the content of the site is inspected and the site is blocked if the policy is violated. This filtering approach enables an organization to block malicious or inappropriate sites that they don’t know exist.
In addition to filter types, different web filtering solutions can differ in terms of where they look to apply their rules. Filters can be applied in a few different ways, such as:
- DNS Filtering: The Domain Name Service (DNS) is the phone book of the Internet, translating domains (like google.com) to the IP addresses used by computers to route traffic. DNS filtering monitors requests for DNS lookups and allows or blocks the traffic based upon policy.
- URL Filtering: A URL is the address of a webpage. URL filtering inspects the URLs contained within web requests and determines whether or not to allow a request to go through based on policy.
- Content Filtering: Content filtering looks at the contents of a requested webpage. If a response violates policy, then it is blocked.
Finally, web filtering solutions can be classified by where the filter is applied. The options for this include:
- Client-Side Filtering: Client-side web filtering is performed by software installed on a user’s computer. It inspects all outbound and inbound traffic and allows or blocks it based upon policy.
- Server-Side Filtering: Server-side filtering is performed via a solution located either on-premises or in the cloud. All web traffic is routed through this solution, providing it with visibility and control
Web Filtering with Harmony Browse
Web filtering is an important component of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Malicious web content can be used to deliver malware or to steal user credentials and other sensitive information. Web filtering solutions help to mitigate these threats by managing the sites that users can visit.
Check Point’s Harmony Browse is a client-side web security solution with web filtering capabilities. It enables organizations to perform URL filtering for web traffic and improves corporate security without the performance impacts of routing traffic through a proxy server.
To learn more about the capabilities and benefits of Harmony Browse for web security, read the solution brief and check out this video. You’re also welcome to sign up for a free demo to learn how Harmony Browse can help to protect your organization and employees against Internet-based threats.