In order to stay safe from malware, ransomware and other viruses, as well as extra protection from phishing attempts, DNS filtering is essential for any business’ IT strategy. Alongside this, website filtering can be applied to increase employee productivity and keep browsed content appropriate for the workplace.
DNS filtering, or Domain Name System filtering, allows you to block entire domains from being accessed. In order for a website to be displayed, your browser needs to know where to look. To do this, a query is sent to a DNS when you enter a website’s URL. The DNS will then tell your browser what IP address to connect to so you can see the website. DNS filtering can block IP addresses that are deemed to host viruses or originate from a location that is known to be where cyber-crime is rife.
Website filtering, on the other hand, works at the URL level. If you want to block users from accessing twitter from work you can block “twitter.com” rather than having to find the related IP address. You can also block whole categories, such as social media or game sites, as URLs are categorised by a web filtering database. You can still whitelist certain websites across the whole organisation or for individuals, allowing access to certain sites, even if they are blocked via one of these categories.
Why is DNS filtering essential?
We’ve talked extensively on the prevalence of ransomware attacks in recent times, so we won’t tread on old ground there. By now, we’re sure that everyone knows that we need to decrease the risk of getting hit by ransomware. It’s expensive, time consuming and can leave you with data loss and a bad reputation.
One method of getting people to download ransomware is by a drive-by download attack. This is when you go on a website and malicious programs are installed on your device without consent. From here they could steal any data on the device, as well as encrypting it so you don’t have access.
Cyber-criminals may also try to gain account access via tricking people to enter their usernames and passwords on look-a-like websites. For example, you could receive a link to a URL that looks like it is an official Microsoft site. It might be disguised as someone you know sharing a file on OneDrive or maybe you’ve received a security alert saying someone has logged into your account, so you click the link. Once on the site, it all looks like the official Microsoft login page, so you enter your details to log in, unknowingly giving the cyber-criminals access to your account. From here they can see all files on your account, read your emails and have access to all of your contacts, who they could then email from you, making malicious links even less suspicious.
All of this can be avoided by simply using a DNS filtering service. Should a URL be clicked that is linked to an IP address than is not trusted, the site will never be requested. The user will be redirected to another IP address, loading a page that tells them why they can’t access the URL they tried to get to.
Why is web filtering essential?
Downtime from ransomware attacks is indeed a colossal and avoidable waste of time, but it isn’t the only thing ruining productivity in the workplace. In office jobs, you’re sitting at your computer all day and it can be easy to get distracted, especially if you’re just a couple of clicks away from time-wasting sites or checking your personal emails.
Recent surveys revealed that if an organisation has not restricted any internet activity, over half (58%) of their employees waste at least 4 hours a week on non-work-related websites. With the average annual pay coming in at £31,461, this means that even at the low end at 4 hours a week, companies are paying their employees £3,146 a year to browse the web for around 25 work days.
Among the highest time-sinks are social media sites. YouTube is the main culprit, with Facebook not far behind. Other sites such as Reddit, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat also take a large slice of the main productivity killers. The same surveys also revealed that specifically blocking social media sites lead to a decrease in the use of non-work websites by nearly 50%.
This works for some companies, but it may not work for yours. Maybe you don’t mind people checking their social media on their lunch breaks, or perhaps YouTube needs to be available for educational purposes. In this case, you can either make rules in your web filtering solution to enable sites at certain times of day. Alternatively, you could allow the sites at any times and easily export web-usage reports to monitor usage.
Perhaps surprisingly, dating apps also take up a large portion of the time-wasting sites. Tinder is the biggest time thief, even taking more work time than Instagram or Reddit. Bumble, Hinge and other dating apps all add up to a sizable portion and organisations may want to consider blocking these too.
No matter if you just want to block illegal and unethical sites, protect from ransomware and other viruses, or if you want to block social media sites to increase productivity, Nutbourne can provide the DNS filtering and web filtering services you need.
So, if you’d like to find out more about our managed IT services in London, then get in touch! Contact Nutbourne today on +44 (0) 137 7273 or by filling out one of our online enquiry forms. Alternatively, you can message us via our Live Chat option; one of our team members will get back to you as quickly as possible. However you wish to get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you!