A lot of computer users are very keen on keeping their internet activities private. However, when it comes to your workplace, you almost have no control over it. As an employee, it may interest you to find out that your devices aren’t as private as you think. A lot of organizations employ content filtering software to set boundaries for the sites you access.
Other anti-malware tools are mounted to keep the security of the company’s data in check. You may argue this is a somewhat nosy practice, but what organization would sacrifice their safety concerns for your privacy concerns? As a matter of fact, in many places, this is standard practice. You will be able to understand how this works in this post, as well as other anti-malware setups.
What Activities Can My Employer Monitor?
As pointed out earlier, your employer’s access to your internet activity may come off as a bit nosy. However, it is important to understand that the major motivation for this is the protection of proprietary and sensitive company data. Also, nobody wants to give an employee a chance to stray off to a site that can pick up very harmful malware.
This is mostly the case when it’s a finance or governmental organization. Regulations require that they monitor to keep fraud in check and prevent hacking. Moreover, companies want to make sure no one is using their equipment to engage in illegal activities or view pornographic content. So this is a list of what your employer can monitor:
In the light of this, you may wonder, how can an employer monitor my browser history? It’s an operationally basic process. Modern companies construct their network traffic to flow through a router or firewall that documents all internet usage.
Even when you’re outside your office, your computer is connected to the local network (LAN). For security reasons, a device like a firewall, VPN, or proxy is mounted between the company’s LAN and the public internet. This carefully controls and limits inbound network access.
Connected Mobile Phone
Provided you’re connected to the office’s Wi-Fi, companies can track your activities with content filters. A typical example is companies that use an internet filter called the Barracuda Web Filter. This filter can track every internet activity from every device connected to the company’s Wi-Fi as well as block malicious websites or sites with inappropriate content.
Every word you type
Numerous programs can be installed to hack employees’ computers. Does this sound ridiculous to you? Well, understanding vendors and employers consider this ethical hacking, especially when used legally could bring some relief.
For instance, programs like this can protect against a crook employee trying to give out credit card details or social security numbers. Content filtering may be designed to upload activities simultaneously to a cloud console for the employer’s review. This may include bordering history, keystrokes entered (keylogging), or screenshots of accessed emails and Word files.
What is Content Filtering and Why Do Companies Need Content Filtering?
Content filtering is the use of a program to screen or limit accessibility, webpages that disagree with company interests. You can look at content filtering as internet firewalls companies put in place to screen content employees have access to.
A very important question to ask is “why is content filtering important to companies?” A lot of organizations commonly make their cases in two ways. One of them is that productivity is lost when employees spend too much time on websites that distract them. The second position is that the internet’s polarity puts their data at risk when exposed to malicious individuals.
The responsibility of setting up content filtering software resides with the network administrators. They configure firewalls, email servers, and network devices to filter unwanted contents. They also are responsible for installing filtering software or incorporating hardware devices on the network.
What are Common Content Filtering Solutions?
Depending on the company’s need, protocol, or work setup, content filtering solutions could range from hardware or software to cloud-based. Regardless of which one is adopted, the common steps that overlap each procedure are:
- Configuration of existing systems like firewalls, routers, and DNS servers to screen contents.
- Installation of dedicated content filtering software on enterprise servers that may be existing or dedicated.
- Integration of hardware devices for content filtering with enterprise network setup.
The interesting thing about content filtering is that more than one solution can be combined easily. This would however then depend on what the company is looking at achieving.
Content filtering tools can range from the use of Group Policy Object (GPO) and anti-malware solutions to web filters like Symantec.
Group Policy Objects in Active Directory
It is very convenient to classify Group Policy as one of the best tools for centralized management at the workplace by deploying them through Active Directory. In the era of expanding digital technology, you could consider this a big step. This is especially in how it allows organizations to improve operational security.
Now, the big question is “how can GPOs be used for content filtering?” Firstly, familiarizing yourself with how GPOs are set up blurs the line between function and efficiency. Note that GPOs are managed from a specific management console or command-line interface tool.
There are three kinds of GPOs- Local GPOs, non-local GPOs, and starter group GPOs. It is exciting to note that as an employer, you can combine all three. With this, you can create a security profile that fits your organization’s needs. Using GPOs for content filtering entails that only certain users have access to certain clients.
Think of it this way, employer X is running a company with tentacles across the globe. Employer X’s company has a lot of workstations. How can employer X partition his employees to focus on businesses and clients that concerns them? All employer X has to do is type a few keystrokes from a centralized location.
With this, everyone is partitioned to have access to what they need and barricaded from peeking into what they don’t need.
Most antivirus has included in their package and blocking activities which were in previous times restricted to internet software. One example is Malwarebytes which is an anti-virus solution. Companies take their security very seriously because even a small breach could compromise their operation.
Hence they employ these antivirus programs to block web pages that contain malware. Other malicious contents that may cause browser hijacking are filtered out.
Content filtering gateway solutions that are cloud-based are gaining considerable popularity amongst organizations. This is because it not only has remote client support but incorporates a flexible user-friendly model. CISCO is one cybersecurity powerhouse currently in the frontline of this cutting-edge technology.
One of their popular cloud-based content filtering software is Cisco Umbrella. This is arguably one of the best cloud-based content-blocking software. With features including compatibility and scalability, it is suitable for companies with no dedicated security resources for content filtering.
Questions like “should I use a web filter in my company,” and “what are content filtering tools” are common in today’s workspaces. This may be because a lot of employees frown at the practice. However, organizations that care about the security of their servers and data would take measures in line with this.