Does Your Small Business Need URL Filtering?

Does Your Small Business Need URL Filtering?

According to marketing intelligence firm IDC research, around 40% of all business bandwidth is used for online activities that aren’t work-related. While it’s hardly practical to shut off internet access in the workplace, it’s important to use monitoring and access control software to ensure your company’s resources aren’t being abused. That’s where URL filtering comes in.

What Is URL Filtering?

URL filtering effectively works as a blacklist to prevent access to certain websites as defined by their web addresses. If you’ve ever tried to access your favorite social network or other websites only to be greeted with a message stating that the owner of the internet connection has blocked access, then it’s likely that a URL filter has been implemented.

Sometimes, the term ‘URL filtering’ is used interchangeably with ‘web’ or ‘content filtering,’ although they’re not precisely the same thing. A URL filter is much simpler in that it prevents a request from being granted if a user enters a web address that’s been added to the blacklist. With a content filter, the request is not blocked but is instead rerouted through a proxy server to determine whether the website is safe.

Many content filtering services also allow you to block specific web addresses. For example, you can use the URL filter to blacklist websites that employees are likely to spend a lot of time on, such as Facebook. However, it’s hardly practical to block every non-work-related website in this manner! Content filters, by contrast, provide more advanced controls, such as automatic scanning of unknown websites.

How Can URL Filtering Help Your Business?

While content filtering is more concerned with preventing access to potentially malicious websites, URL filtering is better suited to preventing or limiting access to websites deemed ‘time-wasters.’ A prime example is, unsurprisingly, Facebook, which is often considered one of the biggest enemies of workplace productivity.

URL filtering offers a very simple solution to stop employees from wasting time on social networks unrelated to work, with the added benefit of reducing bandwidth consumption. For example, streaming video websites like YouTube consume a great deal of bandwidth to the extent that they can easily slow down your entire network. With URL filtering, you can block such websites with ease.

Although a URL filter’s most basic function is to increase workplace productivity and reduce bandwidth consumption, more sophisticated solutions can incorporate a function that reduces security risks. In these cases, content filtering can provide an additional layer of security by ensuring that your company’s operational mandates are upheld.

Another feature of many enterprise-grade URL filtering solutions is the ability to categorize websites in real time. Given the vastness of the internet, it’s simply impossible to block every possible offending website. Instead, URL filters can scan and categorize websites in real time in a process that typically takes less than a second.

Thanks to the powers of machine learning, URL filters are becoming more effective at identifying specific types of content by keywords and other factors. In other cases, website submissions may be reviewed by humans who actively train the machine-learning algorithms to more effectively pick out potentially malicious content.

Should Your Business Implement URL Filtering?

Unrestricted web surfing can quickly become a drain on productivity as well as a serious security risk. By implementing an effective URL and web content filtering system, you’ll be able to improve the effectiveness of your workforce and keep cybersecurity at the forefront of your IT strategy.

However, that doesn’t mean just any old solution will work. Instead, you need to choose a fully customizable system that aligns itself with your business goals and your existing security protocols and applications.

Founders Technology provides responsive helpdesk support and proactive security measures to help you make sure your business always stays one step ahead of threats. Call today to discover how outsourcing your IT can benefit your business.