What is Web Filtering?

In today's world, we are all in the modern era where toddlers to senior citizens use the internet to access their needs and wants; even businesses are now very much internet-focused. Businesses of all sizes can use the internet to gain access to vast amounts of information and other valuable tools vital to their success.

While the internet is a fantastic tool when utilised correctly, it also has a lot of negative consequences, such as: Malicious hackers stealing valuable information, minors discovering age-inappropriate content, and lost productivity due to employees spending too much time on unwanted websites are all examples of lost productivity. In this article, let's look deeper and find out how web filtering helps in resolving these issues.

What is Web Filtering?

A web filter (also called "content control software" or "web content filter") is an internet access management system that restricts access to content on the internet for employees, students, and other end-users. A web filter restricts access to certain websites depending on their URL, domain, IP address, or content category. Using an Allow List (allowlist) and a Block List, a web filter will allow or prevent access to specific sites (blocklist)

Today's businesses try to offer secure work environments with minimal disturbances. Filters for content play an essential part in achieving this goal. Inappropriate or unlawful content should not be accessible at work, as this could expose the company to liability and jeopardise employee well-being or system integrity. Pornographic content, for example, can quickly lead to sexual harassment and a hostile or demeaning work atmosphere, while spam websites can readily infect work computers with malware.

Types of Web Filtering

A web filtering service can be used in several different ways. The way web filtering systems define permitted content is one of the ways they can be distinguished. There are several techniques to define web filters. Following are some of those web filtering technique −

Allow Lists

Allow lists indicate which websites a user, machine, or programme can access. This list is compared to all web traffic, and any requests with a destination that isn't on the list are dropped. This ensures that the sites that can be visited are strictly regulated.

Block Lists

Block List sites that should not be visited instead of stating which sites a user can view. All traffic is reviewed with a blocklist, and any traffic to a destination on the list is dropped. This method is frequently used to guard against known-bad sites like phishing sites, drive-by malware downloads, and unsuitable content.

Content Filtering

Content and keyword filtering determine whether traffic should be allowed or blocked based on a web page's content. An organisation, for example, may have filters in place to prevent access to sites with explicit content. When a request is made, the site's content is examined, and if the policy is broken, the site is blocked. This filtering method allows a company to prevent harmful or unsuitable websites that it is unaware of.

What are the Uses of a Web Filter?

Web Filters are used for the following purpose −

Bandwidth Management

Bandwidth misuse causes severe delay and network breakdowns. Hence application cases for web filtering bandwidth management are numerous. Organisations will utilise a bandwidth analyser to identify the users and websites causing the excessive bandwidth usage and then add them to an internet block list to prevent further abuse.

Security of the Network and Endpoints

An internet filter provides crucial security measures for protecting sensitive data by prohibiting users from accessing harmful websites known to contain malware.

Productivity Management

Content filters prevent access to distracting websites and computer programmes such as social media sites, video streaming services, and computer games.

Data Security

Organizations in charge of sensitive data, such as personal health information (PHI), will deploy internet blocking techniques to prevent employees from leaking data through unapproved data management channels, such as private cloud storage accounts, whether purposefully or negligently.

Inappropriate Content is Blocked

Web filtering will be used by administrators to block porn, gruesome images, violence, and profanity, as well as any content that is judged NSFW or otherwise improper for their users. Filters keep young users away from explicit content and keep employees away from sites that contribute to a hostile work environment.