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URL Filtering

Definition

URL filtering technology helps organizations to prevent computer users from viewing inappropriate web sites or content, or to prevent access of known malware hosts.

The filter checks the origin or content of a Web page against a set of rules provided by company or person who has installed the URL filter. An URL filtering solution can be installed as a standalone solution, on a firewall or on a proxy server.

User Benefits

At the beginning, the technology was developed for productivity reasons. But, with the evolution of malware, the security takes the first place. More and more, malware attacks have moved from the e-mail based attacks to web based attacks.

Modern internet world is a dynamic one and what is good now, in 10 minutes can become a threat. Legitimate websites are compromised without any knowledge of the owner. A user thinks that is it safe to surf to his usual news website but doing this, can lead to malware infection. More advanced solutions use engines that analyze pages on the fly, to detect dangerous scripts or to allow the user to see only the good content on a webpage and block malicious content.

URL filtering companies are protected against compromised websites. User access to Internet content is logged and permitted or blocked based on policies. Reports can be generated and action can be taken based on the user’s web usage.

Minimize legal risk: there is also a legal liability issue when a user engages in illegal or inappropriate surfing activities. An URL filtering solution can effectively suppress offensive sites and can prevent download of inappropriate files and helps manage employee internet access and enforce usage policies to mitigate legal liability up front if an employee seeks to engage in improper behavior.

Business Impact

From the security point of view, an organization using URL filtering technology is able to minimize the costs related with virus outbreaks.

Resources planning: by understanding the web traffic generated a company, based on different reports, an organization can foreseen the real need of bandwidth and can save costs just because it will utilize the exact resources necessary to perform business processes and not spend money to buy additional bandwidth.

Boost productivity: URL Filter can reduce the use of bandwidth-intensive files, such as streaming media. This can significantly improve the performance of your business applications while optimizing the use of network resources. This can be done by eliminating recreational and non business traffic and allow business traffic to have more resources.


Products supporting this technology

Forcepoint Zscaler

URLs were simple tools to help point your Web browser at the Web page of your choice to access the needed information. Today, they are a highly extensible 'meta language' allowing remote computers to exchange executable content and commands as well as a conduit for client/server data. Therefore, controlling the URLs that enter and leave your network is an important way to reduce risks posed by hackers and malware.

Basic URL filtering can be done by using white list and black list of URL’s. But this is a time consuming and continuous process due to the fact that new content is generated every minute. A dedicated URL filtering solution greatly simplifies the work of the IT department and allows them to move to other important issues for the company.

URL filtering solution access a database or URL’s that are already organizes in URL categories in which URL’s are already categorized.  Combined with the integration with directory services, the policies can be applied by users or users groups. In this way, organization has complete control about the content that can be accessed by their employees.

URL Filtering is a mandatory component in the security strategy for any company. A company benefit from an URL filtering implementation from multiple points of view:

Security related problem: The URL filter enforce the access policy to the websites know on hosting malware and, by this, the risk of infection is mitigated.

Productivity: Based on policies, the access to the non-business related sites can be blocked or allowed. Most solutions provide the capability to grant access based on timeframe. Using such kind of policy, organization can grant their users the possibility to access recreational content in work breaks, before or after the working program.

Legal liabilities and compliance: The access to sites that promote violence, criminal activities, gambling drug or alcohol abuse or child nudity, peer-to-peer sites can be blocked based on policies.

Cost reduction: Casual surfing wastes time and bandwidth. Some sites can contain unwanted and inappropriate images, videos, or content.  Blocking access to sites that are not business related and consume excessive bandwidth is a factor for cost reduction.

More often, URL filtering solution are part of a broader security solution, like Secure Web Gateway.

  • manufacturer
  • Security-as-a-Service (SaaS)