Web Filtering Software Enterprise: the best web filters for companies

The most widespread web filtering software enterprise, hence the software and services for navigation control and block that companies should use. In the article, a complete overview and a guide to the available offer.

1. What is web filtering software enterprise

Web filtering software enterprise refers to all the applications, also in the form of services, that monitor and block access to specific websites from within the company network. We can consider this term as universally recognized.

The web filtering applications or services for companies differ from those available for households, since they integrate high level functionalities and monitor the simultaneous navigation of several employees.

Usually, a web filtering software enterprise takes care of monitoring the web navigation from within the company network and of blocking access to contents and websites that are forbidden by company policy. Furthermore, today, with so much smart working, many companies choose to install the same tool also in the employees’ devices, protecting them during navigation also when they are not connected to the company network.

Indeed, it often happens that, during “private” navigation, you may end up in dangerous websites that hide malware. So, it becomes appropriate to have the filter available also at home. This is because the malware, upon the next connection, could enter and spread into the company network or steal access data, with serious consequences.

On top of this, more and more often in the enterprise environment the web filtering component is provided for in wider cybersecurity solutions. In this case, the company can choose to activate it or not. But a good protection strategy can also decide on an independent solution.

Maybe because the web filtering component included in the software or in the protection service isn’t sufficiently efficient, or because the supplier requires an unsustainable investment. If, on the other hand, your company is not protected, introducing first the web filtering software enterprise can be a good start, since protecting web navigation is the first step to defend yourself from cyber attacks.

2. The different types of web filtering software enterprise

There are different types of web filtering software enterprise. There are softwares that can be installed directly on the employee’s device, also as a browser extension (client-based) or at the central level (server-based). In this case, the company can enjoy a unique monitoring and blocking platform, often installed in a dedicated server.

You can also integrate the solution within a company gateway (gateway-based) or a firewall. All the alternatives are by now available as a service and not as a software. This means that web filtering software enterprise is supplied as a cloud-based SaaS directly by the vendor, or by the IT partner, an Internet Service Provider or a Cloud Service Provider.

Finally, it should be noted that the tools of web filtering for companies often are able to monitor and block whatever type of content, which makes them part of the content monitoring & filtering tool category. Hence, not only web navigation, but also the contents that arrive by email and the activity on apps and on various services like social networks.

3. How does a web filtering software enterprise work

After clarifying the different offer modes, let’s now focus on the functioning of web filtering software enterprise. At the central level, the algorithm constantly monitors access to the web and, every time a request for connection to a website is launched, it verifies whether the website is listed in a pre-set list. Hence, the filter is based on a list of URLs, which can be authorized (allow list) or forbidden (deny list).

The solution starts from a standard list of websites but can be personalized and is dynamically updated by the supplier. It is advisable to exploit the personalization options of the list to apply company policies that can be very diverse. A company, for example, can decide to block access to recruitment websites or to the competitors’ websites, another can decide to block streaming or gaming websites.

The filter is realized starting from a group of words and contents and, if during the website scanning the tool detects the banned words or contents, the URL will be added to the denied ones and access will be blocked.

It is straightforward to understand that the value of a tool of web filtering enterprise depends on the quality of the blacklists, their option for personalization and the frequency of updates.

Moreover, it is fundamental to have a valid analysis and reporting tool, which has a double aim. First of all, it grants the company a global overview over the websites visited by the employees and secondly, it allows the supplier to finetune the service, avoiding the block of non-dangerous websites (fake positives).

Moreover, it should be underlined that the most sophisticated tools are also able to block information that a user is sending over the Internet. And that the filtering is based directly on the control by the DNS protocol, from which the URL is then “resolved”.

All the producers of protection solutions rely on an Anycast global network. This means circulating on different data centers spread around the world information about the new websites to block or, more in general, about attacks and new vulnerabilities. Often, moreover, security vendors share information. This collaboration allows vendors to update their products quickly and, therefore, supply a better service to their customers.

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4. The best tools for navigation filtering

All the major producers of cyber protection solutions have a web filtering software enterprise, supplied in an independent way or within a complete platform.

Describing the web filtering component available in the solutions of CheckPoint, Barracuda, FortiGuard, Forcepoint, F-Secure, Sophos, SonicWall, McAfee, Symantec, etc. would be repetitive. We find it more useful to focus on targeted solutions that promise to solve the specific problem and compare them a little.

We will make an exception only for Cisco Umbrella, definitely the best-known solution among those by leader vendors in the security market. Below you can find an overview of the most widespread web filtering software enterprise.

4.1 Cisco Umbrella

On the market for more than fifteen years, Cisco Umbrella is a cloud-based service that exploits the predictive model of threat detection. This entails the use of sophisticated algorithms to predict the threats before they have an impact on the network.

What is especially appreciated is the speed to which filters are updated and the ability to analyze up to 180 billion of requests for access to websites every day. Cisco Umbrella also offers a protection at the DNS level, an intelligent engine that identifies risks, a safe gateway, a firewall, a CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) and the integration with Cisco SD-Wan.

According to Techradar’s opinion, the user interface is not immediately understandable and price varies depending on the dimension of the client company and on the functions it wants to activate. Of course, it is a protection solution that goes beyond pure web filtering, hence its cost.

This is the feedback reported by the independent websites Techradar (available here) and Toolbox (that you can find here).

4.2 DNSFilter

It is a widely widespread cloud-based service, especially because it has a very competitive price.

Among the advantages of DNSFilter, we highlight a user interface easy to use and a wide range of functions. The offer is divided in a Basic and Pro plan. With a high price, Pro grants advanced analytics functionalities and more specialized reports.

Feedback source: the independent websites Techradar (that can be read here) and Toolbox (that you can find here).

Moreover, DNSFilter integrates real-time detection of threats, phishing, malware and viruses, thanks also to Artificial Intelligence tools. “Off-network” protection is also available, outside the company network, as well as an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer) for encrypted communication.

Feedback source: the independent websites Techradar (that can be read here) and Toolbox (that you can find here).

Thanks to the availability of the two different plans, DNSFilter is suitable for companies of all dimensions.

4.3 FlashStart

FlashStart, a European company present at the global level, offers a solution of web filtering cloud-based gateway, which is especially appreciated, also outside Italy.

FlashStart enjoys an Anycast network of data centers in different geographical areas and has clients in more than 145 countries.

Like nearly all solutions, the FlashStart filter acts on the DNS protocol, it identifies and blocks malware, grants a continuously updated database and complete reporting. Important distinctive features of FlashStart are geoblocking, hence the blocking of access to websites in specific geographical areas, and time blocks, meaning blocks set at specified times. This allows, for example, the access to social networks at a time different from working hours.

Finally, we should highlight the integration with Microsoft Active Directory, not present in all the vendors of similar solutions and the support granted 24/7 in Italian, English and Spanish.

Moreover, FlashStart allows to extend its protection also to remote end-points, like PCs, tablets and smartphones.

It should also be underlined that FlashStart works only through resellers and offers partners prices that stand out for performance, margins that can reach over 60% of the final sale price, hence more than twice compared to the earnings allowed by competitors.

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4.4 Untangle NG Firewall Complete

Also the Untangle solution is perfect for SMEs. An interesting pricelist, a complete solution and an intuitive dashboard represent the points of strength of Untangle NG Firewall Complete, which is actually much more than a web filtering service.

Source of the feedback: the independent websites Techbar (which you can read here) and Toolbox (which you will find here).

The service also monitors app activity, and it is possible to personalize it by choosing the apps. A big database of unsafe IPs is available as well as an efficient alert system.

4.5 Webroot DNS Protection

Webroot is a cloud-based gateway that supplies categorization and reputational services about websites and IP addresses, on top of monitoring the navigation.

The compatibility and openness of its environment are definitely the distinctive features of WebRoot. The SDK is also available, for a better personalization and integration with the IT architecture.

Other characteristics are its easy scalability, a hefty and always up-to-date database and its ease of use with a centralized console with updated data in real time and complete and personalizable reports. .

Source of the feedback: the independent websites Techbar (which you can read here) and Toolbox (which you will find here).

4.6 WebTitan DNS Filter

Despite a very easy price plan and other distinctive advantages, Web Titan’s product comes with a too technical user interface. On the other hand, compared to the competitors, WebTitan, a cloud service that monitors DNSs, is a solution suitable for SMEs, especially if supported by an IT partner.

The main advantages are definitely the easy scalability and little maintenance requested, followed by the possibility to protect company email accounts.

Feedback source: the independent websites Techradar (available here) and Toolbox (that you can find here).

>> FlashStart protects you from a wide range of threats and blocks access to malicious websites ? Start your free trial now

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.  

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