Cloud web filtering services: the new frontier in cyber security

cloud web filtering services represent the new frontier in cyber security

The shift to the cloud is affecting every aspect connected to the IT world, and security is no exception. In this article we explain how cloud web filtering services represent the new frontier in cyber security and how the FlashStart url content filtering tool is becoming a preferred solution in this quickly evolving landscape.

1. Into the cloud

Businesses are moving to the cloud. In June 2020 IDG Communications, a global data and media company, released a study whose results were clear: 92% of the companies who responded to the study mentioned that cloud computing was part of their strategy. The share of those totally cloud-based was however minimal, only 9% of the respondents. 29% reported that their IT environment was mostly cloud-based while for 54%, the biggest portion of those taking part in the survey, on-premise services still represented the greater part of their IT environment.

The survey also highlighted how most companies were expecting an increase in the amount of resources dedicated to the shift towards cloud computing. So, how has the situation evolved?

The IDG (now Foundry) Cloud Computing Study of 2022 has confirmed this trend. According to its results, 69% of the interviewed companies have accelerated their migration to the cloud over the past 12 months. Also, the percentage of companies that rely totally or almost totally on the cloud for their IT services has risen to 41% and is projected to rise further to 63% in the coming 18 months.

The “great migration” has begun and, while in history the term is used to refer to a 60-year-long period, we have strong reasons to believe that this migration will take a much shorter period of time.

Covid has definitely played a role. Starting from March 2020 more and more companies have shifted to remote work. The shift took place mainly for individuals in the service sector and in service departments of manufacturing companies, meaning all those activities that could actually be carried out from outside the company premises and that did not require much exchange among employees. We discussed in depth the shift to remote working and learning in this article.

Now, with the pandemic moving on to a new phase, there has been a lot of talk about revolving back to the previous, totally office-based, work practice. However, the shift back has not materialized yet. To the contrary, in many companies employees have been asking for their work schedule to be reviewed and for a stable integration of remote work into their contract, further accelerating the migration to the cloud.


>> FlashStart is fully cloud-based and easy to activate → Start your free trial for this cloud web filtering service now!


2. Cloud web security

Given the above, it is clear that we can expect more and more services to move into the cloud, and security is no exception. We are referring here to IT security, cyber security, meaning the security we need to ensure that we are safe from online threats. Indeed, the shift to remote working and learning has resulted in an increase in the number of attempts by cyber criminals to exploit the new situation to their advantage.

All of a sudden, a huge new number of Internet users were using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to connect to the company network or even just their simple home network to access cloud-based repositories of data and documents, which have both made remote work possible and have become necessary in order to support the new situation.

The obvious problem was the lack of preparedness by many users to face the consequences of this increased use in home Internet. The problem has been especially felt by younger users and older ones, who have often been the specific target of hackers because of their lack of awareness. But also more experienced users, people who for work-related reasons are constantly online, have fallen prey to phishing attacks and other attacks aimed at gaining access to confidential information and documents.

Therefore, following the overarching shift to cloud-based services, the migration has accelerated also in the realm of security, and cloud web filtering services have become the new standard in cyber security.


>> FlashStart protects you from a wide range of threats and prevents access to malicious websites → Start your free trial now and start navigating safely towards the future.


3. How does a cloud web filtering service work?

As the name itself leads on, cloud web filtering services are filtering solutions , meaning they filter all of the incoming and outgoing Internet traffic from a specific device. How does this url content filtering work? It acts as a checkpoint: every time a user wants to connect to a given website and types the name of such site into the search bar, the filter checks the DNS corresponding to the website name.

More in detail, the DNS is checked against a database that contains all the data pertaining to websites that, for some reason, need to be blocked. These databases are called “denied lists” or also “black lists”. If the required DNS is part of a denied list, the url content filtering software prevents access to the requested url, warning the user about the dangerous situation he is getting into.

Considering this process, what are then the features we need to consider when choosing what cloud web filtering service to use? We believe the list should definitely include:

» How and how often the system is updated: given how quickly threats are evolving, the speed and method of update are of fundamental importance in the choice of a cloud web filtering service.
» How widespread the protection is: going back to the current situation explained above, the shift to remote working and learning implies that, when choosing an url content filtering software, you need to make sure it can grant you protection not only on-premise but also outside the company offices and, why not, when traveling. Find out more about this in our dedicated article.
» How strong the protection can be: this point refers to the type of contents the tool can grant you protection from, since nowadays traditional cyber threats are not the only threats users need to face up to.


>> You can activate the FlashStart cloud-based protection on all Routers and Firewalls to grant the cyber security of your desktop and mobile devices → Start your free trial now


4. FlashStart: cloud web filtering at your service

Active in cloud web security since 2003, FlashStart has been among the first cyber security companies to understand where the market was going and now can grant you almost two decades of experience in url content filtering solutions.
The cloud web filtering service it offers satisfies all three of the features mentioned above.

4.1 FlashStart: constantly updated through Artificial Intelligence

FlashStart exploits the latest advancements in technology to grant that its tool is constantly and quickly updated: Artificial Intelligence algorithms are used to continuously scan the Internet looking for new threats. They can examine up to 200 thousand websites every day in 24 languages.
Once a website is recognized as dangerous or inappropriate, it is added to one of the over 90 categories available in the FlashStart cloud and the updated security becomes immediately available to the final user.

4.2 FlashStart: available everywhere

FlashStart exploits a global anycast network , meaning a network of servers that grant the availability of its url content filtering service with no latency and everywhere. With the Anycast technique, the same IP address corresponds to several hosts. The network then chooses to which server it should send the user’s request to access a given website based on the server’s status: if an overloaded server is detected, the network sends the request to the next node. Given the width of the FlashStart network, this requires almost zero time, granting a latency that is almost nonexistent, to the point that FlashStart is one of the top 10 global DNS.

But in the case of FlashStart, “everywhere” does not only refer to the width of the network it is based on. It also means that FlashStart is available everywhere for the final user. Indeed, you can install the cloud web filtering service either at the router level, granting the cyber security of all the devices connected to the net, or at the end-point level through ClientShield, the FlashStart application for mobile devices and, in general, for devices that use a remote connection.

4.3 FlashStart: security at your service

Finally, FlashStart allows you to dig deeply into its customization options, so that security becomes a real service…at your service! You can customize FlashStart in terms of:

» Contents: while the most dangerous content categories are blocked outright by the tool, you can choose to impose blocks also on other categories, like inappropriate or distracting contents.
» Time: you can activate both permanent blocks and scheduled ones, granting access to certain websites or content categories only at specific times.
» Users: you can assign different security profiles to different users and groups of users.
» Integration with other tools: FlashStart can be fully integrated with the Microsoft Active Directory and with Google Work Space, allowing you to easily replicate the structure of your organization into your security tool.


>> Are you an appliance producer? You can integrate FlashStart as a native setting into your product → Contact us now!


On any router or firewall you can enable FlashStart® Cloud protection in order to secure desktop, mobile, and IoT devices on local networks.

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