InCyberspaceNoOneCanHearYourRouterScream_SQAccording to Wikipedia, a black hole is a region of spacetime from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. According to your bandwidth bills, a black hole is a region of the Internet from which cat videos, check-ins, and likes prevent anything, including productivity, from escaping.

It is theorized that a massive black hole may exist in the center of our galaxy, but is a known fact that the Internet is full of black holes. And once users cross the event horizon of a site like Facebook or Twitter, they may experience a gap in their own personal spacetime that leads to hours spent online doing something other than work. If they find themselves pulled into one of the more nefarious areas of the Web, the loss of spacetime will affect you, as you work to disinfect their machine and recover their data.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the black holes that threaten your users and data from cyberspace, and how you can protect your users from them.

Lost productivity

Some of the most massive black holes on the Web include social media sites, personal webmail, news, and streaming media sites. These sites can be very subtle, enticing the user to do a quick check-in, or they can be much more aggressive and offer hours of video entertainment. Whichever type of black hole your users encounter, you can almost see time come to a halt as they cross the event horizon and lose hours of productivity. Just consider how long you’re willing to stare at this animated GIF of a black hole, then multiply that by all your users and how much more likely they are to look for more cat videos. Web filtering software can help you preserve your users’ productivity without taking away the Internet from your users. You can block sites, but you can also simply limit the amount of time users spend on these sites to help ensure they don’t lose track of time.

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Bandwidth hogging

Some of these black holes can suck all the bandwidth out of your Internet connection and still be hungry for more. As your users begin to be pulled into the grasp of these bandwidth hogs, the bandwidth available for line of business applications, corporate email, and your company’s website drains away. This image? It’s not a representation of the space phenomena, it’s a representation of your router when unfettered access meets one of the web’s black holes. You can use web filtering software to limit the amount of bandwidth used by web surfing so that you know you have bandwidth available for mission critical needs.

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Security threats

The most nefarious and dangerous of the web’s black holes come in the form of the various security threats presented by compromised pages, malicious sites, and infected files that users can come across every day. Even trusted web sites from reputable companies are hacked on a daily basis, which means your users may be visiting sites for perfectly legitimate reasons, and encounter a security threat that was just waiting for them to come within their range. These threats can, at best, result in lost productivity and unnecessary work as you reimage their machines. Lost data is a huge concern, but the worst is if these threats lead to a breach of customer data, such as financial information or personal details. By scanning all web pages and downloads before they get to your users’ browsers, you can protect them from all the bad things that hide in the dark, and prevent your users from accidentally passing the event horizon and being sucked in to the singularity.

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Web monitoring and filtering software can be the difference between a well-functioning network full of happy users who have safe access to the Internet, and a network full of crashed servers and compromised machines, where the boss wants to take away the Internet from everyone. Nothing can escape black holes, but you can make sure your users avoid them.