A business web filter is an important technical solution for improving security that has become even more important due to the increase in remote working. With a remote workforce, IT teams typically have less visibility and control over employees’ online activities, which increases the risk of devices being compromised and makes it harder for compromised devices to be identified.
Security Issues with a Remote Workforce
Traditionally, businesses operate with on-premises IT infrastructure with a fixed perimeter, with internal resources protected against unauthorized access by external actors with a firewall. Employees work in line with strict security policies, with all employee activities closely monitored by the organization. When businesses allow employees to work from home, as was the case during the pandemic, security becomes more complex.
The infrastructure in place to support office workers is not best suited to a remote workforce, as too much trust is placed in employee devices. IT teams can ensure that only trusted devices can access company resources, but they have little visibility into who is using that device. With large numbers of employees accessing the network remotely, it can be much harder to identify any malicious actors within that traffic.
There is a risk of data interception when remotely accessing corporate resources, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks. Measures need to be taken to protect against third-parties intercepting traffic. Then there is the problem of how employees use their devices. There is a tendency for personal Internet activities to be conducted on work devices, and this introduces considerable risks. If an employee visits a malicious website and has malware downloaded, that malware can be easily transferred to the corporate network when they connect. Further, IT teams have decreased visibility into employee devices with the remote/hybrid working model.
How to Improve Security for Remote Workers
Remote access infrastructure must be set up to support remote working and steps taken to improve Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) security, with strong passwords set and multifactor authentication enabled. A secure VPN is required for accessing the corporate network and data to prevent the interception of data in transit.
Businesses need to move away from allowing trusted devices to connect to the network and instead adopt a zero-trust policy for network access, and monitoring of connections and employee devices needs to be stepped up. Security awareness training is vital for a remote workforce. Employees need to be made aware of security policies, be taught security best practices and made aware of the security threats they could encounter.
Technical solutions also need to be implemented to better protect employee devices against cyber threats. The blurring of work and personal lives due to the pandemic and home working saw a mixing of private digital lives with business digital lives. Corporate issued devices were often used for work purposes, and personal devices used to access the corporate network under bring your own device (BYOD) policies. According to a 2020 study conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), 50% of hybrid workers said they use their corporate-issued devices for personal use.
When employees use work devices for personal use there is an increased risk of encountering a threat, such as a website hosting a phishing form or malware. During the pandemic, the number of detected phishing websites skyrocketed, and ransomware attacks increased significantly as cybercriminals took advantage of the reduced security for remote workers.
Protect Employee Devices with a Business Web Filter
One of the most important security solutions for protecting the devices of remote workers is a business web filter. If there is unfiltered Internet access, there is a high risk of employees visiting malicious websites and infecting their devices with malware, such as remote access Trojans and backdoors. If a cyber actor can compromise a remote worker’s device, when that user connects to the corporate network the threat actor gains entry too. The techniques used by threat actors when inside a corporate network can make intrusions difficult to identify, such as when they use living-of-the-land techniques – the same tools that are used internally by the IT department.
It is essential therefore to protect devices and prevent malware downloads and other attacks that allow threat actors to compromise devices. A business web filter filters the Internet, blocks access to known malicious websites, and prevents malware downloads. It can be used to carefully control the content that can be accessed by remote workers, and block risky categories of websites such as file-sharing networks, social media sites, and illegal streaming services where threats are commonly encountered.
When an employee inadvertently attempts to visit a malicious website, by clicking a link in a phishing email, being redirected to a webpage hosting malware by a malicious online advert, or a website hosting an exploit kit, that attempt will be blocked, and they will be presented with a local block page.
A business web filter provides IT teams with full visibility into the online activities of employees, through reports and real-time views of Internet access, allowing proactive steps to be taken to reduce risk. Businesses can also enjoy productivity gains by carefully controlling the content that can be accessed by employees on their work devices during business hours.
During the pandemic, TitanHQ saw a major increase in business web filter sales as businesses sought ways to improve security for remote employees. Businesses that started filtering the Internet for the first time were able to clearly see the need to have such a solution in the logs of employee Internet access generated by the business web filter.
WebTitan Cloud from TitanHQ
WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-delivered DNS-based business web filter that businesses can use for content control and blocking web-based threats, no matter where employees access the Internet. WebTitan is fed threat intelligence from a global network of more than 500 million endpoints, which protects against zero-minute threats. When a threat is identified by any endpoint within that network, WebTitan Cloud is automatically updated and will block that threat for all users.
Administrators are provided with precision control over the content that can be accessed by on-premises and remote workers, have complete visibility into Internet activities (including real-time views), and have highly flexible policies that allow controls to be implemented for the organization down to the individual user.
WebTitan Cloud will prevent access to malicious websites, block malware downloads and shadow IT, identify and block command-and-control callbacks, and will provide data-driven executive-level reports to help the business improve security and productivity.
WebTitan is an award-winning business web filter that consistently scores top marks on independent review sites and is much loved by IT admins and MSPs due to how easy it makes filtering the Internet and blocking threats.
To find out more, give the TitanHQ team a call or take advantage of the free 14-day trial of the WebTitan Cloud business web filter.