In this post we discuss how cloud web security has rapidly gained pace in the panorama of cyber security solutions. We present its main advantages and show how the FlashStart cloud-based filter has become a preferred solution worldwide to block malicious contents and increase the safety of your Internet experience.
1. The shift to the cloud
Worldwide, more and more organizations are shifting to the cloud. We have all heard about Dropbox, the file hosting service company founded in America in 2007. The idea, whose ownership belongs to two MIT students, has since made history. Since then,cloud-based services have widened not only in might but also in scope.
Indeed, the cloud is now available for all types of services:
» Document repositories: these are the basic services that companies like Dropbox were born to offer, where users can upload, store and download the files but also share them with other users. IT experts would consider this an example of a SAAS, or Software-As-A-Service.
» Online work spaces (like Google’s Workplace): shared platforms that include document repositories but allow users, companies and organizations to produce and manage files directly online. Technical jargon would call this a PAAS, or Platform-As-A-Service.
» Finally, IAAS services (Infrastructure-As-A-Service) are also available through the cloud: these are the services that actually make it possible to create a private cloud environment, like IBM CloudBurst.
This development in cloud services has been paralleled by a shift to the cloud in the most diverse industries. According to Builtin estimates, “cloud computing accounts for a hefty 33 percent of IT budgets worldwide”. And all sorts of businesses are turning to it, from financial services, to education, health care, data analytics and business processes.
2. The cloud as the new space for security services
In this panorama, cyber security has not been an exception: cloud web security has developed incessantly over the last two decades. Born out of a wish to replace traditional cybersecurity tools, it has constantly evolved in order to:
» Meet the needs of an ever-changing Internet environment;
» Build the skills to face and oppose new cyberthreats and new versions of existing ones;
» Be able to respond to the growing requests for Internet-based services by companies and organizations.
The push towards cloud web security can therefore be connected to two main forces:
» On the supply side, a willingness to move away from traditional cybersecurity solutions based on hardware (? For more information on the advantages of a cloud web security compared to traditional firewall appliances read our dedicated article).
» On the demand side, the shift by companies and organizations all around the world to Internet-based services in all sectors.
>> FlashStart protects you from a wide range of threats and prevents access to malicious websites ? Start your free trial now
3. Covid-19 and the push for more cloud web security
3.1 First step: the general push towards cloud-based services
Then the Covid-19 pandemic came, and with it a huge push towards Internet services. Indeed, the pandemic made the Internet a reality for everybody and for most types of jobs.
In terms of people, everybody was affected, from small children to the elderly. School services moved over the Internet not only for the purpose of document exchange but also for proper classes. Health services also shifted to the Internet, and even older people had to adapt to seeing their doctor through a screen or receiving their prescriptions by email.
As far as jobs are concerned, we witnessed two types of changes:
» On the one hand, companies where, because of a strictly traditional mindset, remote work had not been evaluated as a possibility, had to quickly change their mind and make it possible.
» On the other, for all sorts of jobs companies and organizations had to ask themselves whether the tasks and, in case, which tasks could be carried out remotely. This meant that for some jobs that were traditionally considered as impossible to be carried out away from the workplace, all of a sudden new ideas came through.
3.2 Second step: the request for more cloud web security
The push towards more and more Internet-based services that followed the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic was soon accompanied by an increase in the number of cyber attacks. It is not clear exactly how many of such attacks took place during the first year of the pandemic, but cybercrime made the national news in various countries around the world, as reported by CBSnews in May 2021
>> To find out more about the main cyber attacks of 2021 ? Read our dedicated article
One of the main problems encountered by companies, households and educational institutions alike was that many of the employees or students were not aware of how easily online scams are spread and how often they can be their direct target.
InnovationAtWork reports that in a survey carried out among American users, 48% of the respondents said they had been “targeted with phishing emails, calls, or text messages, both personally and professionally, over the course of six months while working from home”.
3.2.1 A common problem, different needs
With this many people being hit by the attacks, it is not surprising that organizations and institutions increased their requests for cloud web security services. Their aim was to try and safeguard not only their internal networks but also the VPNs (virtual private networks) used by employees working from home to connect to the company network.
For educational institutions, the need was not only to grant the safety of their data but also to protect their stakeholders, especially children and young Internet users, and prevent them from being exposed to various type of contents:
» Proper malicious attacks carried out especially through phishing attempts designed for attracting younger people;
» Inappropriate contents, like porn, violence, or other adult contents;
» Distracting apps, websites and social networks affecting their ability to focus.
Finally, households had mixed needs, driven by the fact that family members in the same room were connecting to different places of the outside world, making it easy for hackers to reach the device of the youngest and most inexperienced Internet users, enter the home network and, from there, exploiting the VPN to get inside the networks of the companies where their parents worked.
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4. FlashStart: cloud web security made easy
FlashStart offers a cloud web security solution that has outstripped many of its competitors thanks to the fact it is:
» easy to set up and manage;
» flexible and adaptable to all your needs;
» constantly updated.
In fact, you can set up the FlashStart DNS filter in a few minutes. Instructions are provided in different languages and, for any issues or problems, personal support services are active 24/7 and our team members can answer you in English, Italian and Spanish.
Moreover, the FlashStart DNS filter is updated on a continuous basis: FlashStart uses a mix of artificial and human intelligence to scan the Internet looking for new threats and it updates its cyber security solution directly, with no need for the user to accept any updates and proceed with lengthy reboots.
5. The FlashStart cloud based DNS filter
The solution offered by FlashStart is a DNS filter, meaning a filter that acts as a checkpoint to control all the traffic passing through your device. Whatever website you are trying to reach, FlashStart will check it against its cloud. The FlashStart cloud contains numerous lists of websites divided in categories.
5.1 Access and deny lists
Examples of categories include, but are not limited to, Malware and Threats (like frauds, phishing attempts, trojans and worms), Dangerous contents (including gambling and Coronavirus frauds), Unwanted websites connected to porn, drugs violence and weapons.
However, the categories also include less dangerous contents like social networks, video applications and online shopping platforms to name but a few. This is because the network administrator can decide to block additional contents deemed distracting or unsuitable for the users given the environment.
For specific purposes, they can also decide to unblock a website that is automatically blocked by the service. Indeed, administrators can create their own access lists.
5.2 Deep into personalization
Finally, administrators can decide to further tailor the DNS filter to their needs. First of all, they can decide to assign different profiles to different users, a function that is useful:
» for companies: they may want to allow some departments to access specific web contents while denying it to others, for example within a company only the purchasing department could be allowed to access online shopping platforms that are otherwise deemed distracting;
» for households: adults may want to prevent children from being exposed to unsuitable contents given their age while still feeling free, for example, to buy alcohol online.
But the personalization can reach even deeper levels thanks to the FlashStart scheduling feature, a feature that allows network administrator to set timetables for the blocks. Within a company, for example, the employer may want to make social networks accessible during breaks while denying access to them during working hours in order to increase efficiency.
>> Tired of feeling insecure about the state of your Internet safety? ? Try FlashStart now, the cloud web security solution that is easy, flexible, and updates by itself
You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.