Your staff might not be aware of it, but the clear majority of data breaches start from within. Even something as innocuous as clicking the wrong link in an unsolicited email can leave your business open to a ransomware attack or, worse, the outright theft of sensitive information. That’s why every organization needs to find the right mix of technological solutions and staff training to proactively guard against numerous threats.
Although social engineering scams are behind most successful attacks, businesses must also watch out for malicious software. A lot of malware can bypass conventional antivirus and firewall systems by using zero-day exploits and other methods. As such, you can never rely on antivirus alone to keep your systems safe. And because antivirus software is a reactive method, it doesn’t start working until the malware is already on the system.
How URL Filtering Reduces Security Risks
URL filtering involves restricting access to certain URLs, also simply known as web addresses. On the most basic level, a URL filter can blacklist forbidden websites. But because there are millions of websites out there, blocking specific ones is hardly a practical solution. This is why many enterprise-grade URL filters use technologies like artificial intelligence to scan URLs for suspicious content before allowing access to the website.
Whitelisting is another common feature of URL filtering. This far more exhaustive approach prevents access to all websites and online services except for those which have been manually added to the whitelist. For machines that only need access to a specific URL or small set of online services, this can be ideal, although it’s not usually practical for most workstations.
Maximizing Employee Productivity
Unsurprisingly, one of the most common obstacles to productivity is social media, with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being some of the most common culprits for work time procrastination. Implementing a URL filter allows you to easily block access to the top offenders without having to resort to monitoring employees’ internet activity.
Not only does URL filtering block unwanted websites in the workplace, it also helps reduce bandwidth consumption. For example, streaming video services like Netflix or YouTube aren’t just common sources of distraction in the office — it also consumes a huge amount of bandwidth. Even if you have the fastest internet connection available, high-definition streaming can greatly reduce the overall performance of your network. Needless to say, the last thing you want is a situation where critical systems are rendered slow and unresponsive because someone is busy watching the latest TV series on Amazon Prime when they should be working.
Reducing Company Liability
The benefits of URL filtering don’t stop at network security and performance. Filtering non-productivity websites also helps create a culture of accountability by helping you enforce the rules of the workplace. This, in turn, reduces your business’s liability in terms of preventing accidental or deliberate access to illicit websites.
If, for example, someone uses your network to access or download illegal content, such as pirated software or movies, the responsibility ultimately falls to the owner of the internet connection. A URL filter stops that from happening, thereby helping your company stay on the right side of the law and uphold its compliance obligations.
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