Managing the use of the Internet in corporate environments is a great challenge for companies, given that the content offer increases daily, with a broad perspective of growth for the coming years. The increasing demand for content attracts the attention of users, making increasingly evident the problems associated with productivity and security in corporate environments.
When it comes to controlling the use of the Internet, it is normal for managers and users to associate the term with access blocking, however this is not the only goal behind the controls. The control must meet the needs of the organization, involving the interested parties, in search of a consensus that brings bilateral benefits.
Highly restrictive access policies usually generate complaints from users, since they limit the possibility of escaping, considered healthy, to stimulate productive leisure. On the other hand, unrestricted access policies for the use of the Internet can be a good opportunity for employees with difficulties to maintain concentrated activities, generate negative impacts on productivity and financial losses for the business.
An organization, made up of self-managed employees, with a high degree of productivity and perception so as not to jeopardize corporate data, is far from the reality of the vast majority of companies. That is why it is very important to balance expectations in order to meet the needs of the various profiles of Internet use existing in an organization.
The sectors of a company usually have peculiar access needs, however there are contents that in no way should be accessed in a corporate environment, such as pornography, drugs, racial intolerance, religious, among others. It is advised that the Internet use policy also contemplate these contents and later be applied controls to ensure disabling of these accesses in the corporate environment.
This blog post will address the concept of URL filter, usually present in specialized UTM Firewall, solutions, used to provide greater efficiency to the rules focused on the management of Internet use, allowing to control the content visited in the organization.
The role of URL filter
A web filter, in general lines, has the purpose of offering intermediate layer of access, allowing the application of controls under several aspects associated to users’ navigation. Therefore, url filtersolutions are widely used to establish compliance between policies/guidelines for the use of the internet in the daily operations of organizations.
Url filtermakes it possible for rules to be used to control internet usage, in a very personalized way, making it possible to create rules based on access lists, schedules, groups, among others. This flexibility of configuration meets the need to build adapted environments, meeting the company’s wishes and collaborators.
The application of url filter, in its basic operating model, using access lists and access rules, allows superficial control over the use of the internet, in order to meet the needs of the company and its collaborators. In this model, administrators set the default access policy (permissive or restrictive), build lists with sites that must have controlled access, and create rules to define behavior by identifying certain types of access.
This operating model is applied on some occasions, however, it requires the application of great efforts for the creation and maintenance of access lists. Moreover, this format of use presents little efficiency, since the manual construction of the lists tends to consider limited amount of urls. The number of urls known to members of the technology team, even when they use pre-formatted lists, is quite small considering the universe of websites currently on the internet.
In this sense, rules that use lists constructed in this way, tend to present low efficiency to control the use of the internet, so stay tuned to the next topic where the concept of access management will be covered based on categories.
Access management by category
The evolutions associated with the use of the Internet have driven the development of increasingly improved security solutions, with resources that bring greater efficiency to the control of the use of the Internet in organizations. This need led to the emergence of large players specialized in the processing and categorization of content published on the Internet.
These companies construct a large bases of urls, structured in categories, that facilitate application of rules for the management of the use of the internet. Categories segment content into groups, such as adult content (pornography), viruses and malware, religious intolerance, social networks, news websites, and more.
The segmented bases are used in products intended to manage the use of the Internet, serving as reference for building rules to control user access. Among the benefits associated with the use of external content bases, which are applied in the control of Internet use, the volume of urls, categorization of contents, and outsourcing of the maintenance of the access lists stand out.
The use of databases with categorized content increases exponentially the efficiency of the controls applied on the use of the Internet, as well as facilitating the management of resource use by members of the company’s technology team. Depending on the base of urls used, it will be possible to work with categories to treat malicious content, improving security concepts in the corporate network.
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