The internet is essential for your business. It has made it possible for employees to easily communicate in real-time over long distances, access useful tools and services, and share massive amounts of data without relying on physical storage media.
However, the internet is also the biggest threat to your business. Why? Because it exposes your employees to malicious content distributed by cybercriminals, who are increasingly targeting small and medium-sized businesses because they often don’t have the measures necessary to stop them.
To prevent the internet—and the employees who depend on it every single day—from compromising your security, you need to proactively block access to dangerous online content, which is where content filtering comes in.
What Is Content Filtering?
Content filtering, also referred to as internet filtering or web filtering, is the practice of limiting access to certain online content, such as pornography and other inappropriate material, compromised websites, and command and control servers (C&C servers) used by cybercriminals to orchestrate malware operations.
Thanks to readily available and easily deployable cloud-native content filtering solutions such as Open DNS Umbrella, content filtering is now accessible even to SMBs, who benefit from its implementation in multiple ways.
1. Enhanced Security
In its Q4 2017 Website Security Insider analysis of malware and websites, SiteLock estimates that around 1% of all websites on the internet (roughly 18.5 million) are infected with malware.
Because infected websites are so numerous, even security-aware employees sometimes end up on one without realizing it, which can quickly result in a company-wide malware infection and prolonged downtime.
With content filtering, it’s possible to enhance the company’s cybersecurity posture by blocking access to all known malicious websites—as well as requests to malware, ransomware, phishing, and botnets— before a connection is even established.
2. Improved Visibility
Content filtering isn’t just about blocking access to inappropriate and dangerous content. It’s also about gaining visibility into network traffic. For example, Open DNS Umbrella makes it possible to detect sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud services in use across the entire company and identify who is using them and how often.
If it’s determined that a certain cloud service is potentially too risky, access to it can be easily blocked or restricted. This level of visibility and control is essential for preventing shadow IT (the use of unsanctioned hardware or software within a company) from becoming a problem.
3. Greater Productivity
Most employees are responsible enough to avoid wasting hours every day online, but that doesn’t mean that their productivity doesn’t suffer due to unrestricted access to the internet. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 40 percent of all internet usage happens in the workplace, and CNBC News estimates that Facebook alone has cost the economy about $3.5 trillion in lost productivity.
Simply by restricting access to the most tempting websites, you can achieve an instant boost in productivity without alienating your employees. Since content filtering solutions make it possible to check everyone’s online activity, you can then address the biggest remaining time wasters on an individual basis.
4. Bandwidth Usage Reduction
Most businesses have accepted a high-speed internet connection as an unavoidable business expense, but many still struggle with slow loading times and other connectivity problems. These problems often go hand-in-hand with the fact that employees don’t use the internet only for work-related activities.
While a few minutes of scrolling through memes on Reddit or reading the news is unlikely to have a noticeable impact on the overall bandwidth usage, activities such as streaming high-resolutions videos and downloading large files definitely can. By blocking them, you can instantly lessen the bandwidth usage—not to mention make employees more focused.
Getting Started with Content Filtering Is Easy
The good news is that all the above-described benefits of content filtering can be enjoyed even by small and medium-sized businesses with limited IT budgets. At BCA, we have extensive experience with Cisco’s OpenDNS Umbrella, and we invite you to contact us and let us tell you even more about its numerous benefits and seamless implementation.