The internet is full of incredible resources to help you run your business. You definitely don’t want to be blocking access to it, especially if your data and apps are hosted in the cloud.

However, for all its upsides, there are potentially negative effects of using the internet at work. We know that employees waste hours on social media every week, and Netflix streaming can gobble your bandwidth. So, there are certain types of internet usage that you should think about restricting to stop employees slacking off online. 

A content filter is the obvious solution to this problem. This easy-to-use software lets you blacklist certain websites that you consider to be unsafe, unproductive or inappropriate for your users to access at work.

What is a content filter?

A content filter, also known as a web filter or content-control software, proactively blocks users from accessing the websites and applications that you don’t want them to access. You can deny (blacklist) or allow (whitelist) websites based on the URL, IP address, or content category. Depending on the configuration you set up, you can either allow access to all websites except for those on the blacklist, or block access to all websites except for those on the whitelist. You can be as restrictive or permissive as you like.

Now, there are 1.7 billion websites on the web and 547,200 new websites are created globally every single day. With such a massive influx of content, you obviously can’t rely on manual blacklisting to keep up. 

Fortunately, content-filtering software lets you block all sites within a predefined content category with just a couple of clicks. With category filtering, administrators can quickly block millions of websites across thousands of problematic categories such as adult content, gambling, social platforms, auction sites, peer-to-peer file sharing and media streaming, which is a much more efficient way to keep up.  

Why do you need web filtering?

Content filtering is not just about blocking content that you consider to be NSFW. Here are five compelling use cases:

Boost productivity: The average British employee spends three hours and five minutes on social media every working week, and 30 minutes per day on other apps and websites. Content filters can block access to these distracting applications, preventing time-theft and boosting productivity.

Network security: Some sites are known to pose a high risk of malware. Blocking these sites provides critical security controls for protecting sensitive data. 

Data security: Web filters can also be used to prevent employees from leaking or transmitting company data through their own personal email or cloud storage accounts. This additional tier of data security is especially helpful if you work with sensitive data such as health information.

Managing bandwidth: If every employee and guest is permitted to stream video over your Wifi, there’s a risk of high latency and network crashes. The last thing you need is for your VoIP system to grind to a halt because someone’s streaming Netflix shows during work hours. In this situation, you can use a bandwidth analyser to identify the websites that are chewing up your bandwidth, and add them to your blacklist to prevent future access. 

Safeguarding: Web filters prevent underaged users from accessing adult content on your guest Wifi, and prevent employees from accessing content that makes others in the workplace feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It’s a powerful way of preventing harmful or unlawful behaviour online.

How to choose content web filtering software for your business

The best content-filtering systems do a lot more than block undesirable websites. Many come with a suite of features that provide you with the ideal web-filtering configurations for your company. 

Here are some things to consider before making an investment:

  • Bespoke filtering – Do you need to customise web access across users and devices, or will a catch-all system that blocks the same type of content throughout the organisation work well enough for you? 
  • Admin requirements – How easy is it to use your content filter? Can staff set up and manage the restrictions or will you need dedicated IT support?
  • Flexibility – Do you need a system that will automatically lift the restrictions at certain times, such as during lunch breaks?  
  • On-site or cloud-based system – Both options are available, and the choice may come down to how much control and security you need over corporate data, and whether you have a large team of remote workers who need the same level of access and security as those who work on site.

For best results, speak to the experts. TFM Networks has made great use of content-filtering software for clients over the years. We can help you regulate the browsing habits of your employees and guests based on your exact budget and content-filtering needs. No matter whether you have five or 500 users to manage, we can help you improve productivity, enhance security, and manage bandwidth like a pro. Give us a call today!