Web filtering does to your organization what a mosquito net does to your skin – it keeps the bugs away whilst allowing air to pass through. The trick to effective web filtering is to carefully tune the list of websites on the whitelist, and those on the blacklist. A good web filter can do this balancing act automatically and constantly by feeding off information kept on global servers that are monitoring the Internet in real-time, looking for new emerging threats. Most web filters will also allow companies to customize what is on the whitelist and blacklist and will be able to filter out websites based on lists of keywords.
Web filtering will give both the business and its employees several benefits. Employees are prone to click on innocuous-looking malicious websites. These websites inject malicious code into the user’s browser which, in turn, can infect the user’s entire computer – transforming it into anything from a mad spam spewing machine to an infected zombie PC listening for commands from a hacker on the other side of the world. This type of attack is often called a “drive-by download” and affects all browsers on all operating systems, so nobody is safe. Web filtering increases the web security for your organization by blocking any site that delivers malware in this way.
Web filtering is then complemented by web monitoring in two ways. First of all, it keeps track of the websites that actually do make it through the filters. These websites are generally legitimate; however they might still violate the company policy and must therefore be tracked. Secondly, web monitoring involves the analysis of the Internet usage patterns of your users. This will help you identify cyber-slackers, or people who are exchanging too much information with external websites.
By eliminating cyber-slacking, companies benefit from an increase in productivity. These days it is very common that unsupervised employees spend many hours engaged on social networking or gaming sites during work hours. By monitoring Internet usage instead of blocking it, employees can do their jobs without unnecessary restrictions that can be counterproductive. Monitoring allows more freedom and flexibility for an organization and does not need to be intrusive. Good web monitoring software can generate powerful reports allowing you to see a graph of your entire company. In this way you can identify the biggest time-wasters and adjust your web filters to block them.
Web filtering and web monitoring are clearly very important to enforce web security in your company, giving benefit both to the business and to employees.