Cloud Based Internet Filtering
Employees have access to a wide range of online content, no more than a few clicks away. From Facebook to YouTube and Amazon to eBay, employees can now waste precious time on non-work-related sites. It’s the bane of employers across the globe. And it’s the reason many MSPs look to add cloud-based Internet filtering to their services.
Why Web Filtering is Necessary
Some of these online distractions are mild. Most employers wouldn’t take issue with a five-minute break spent on CNN’s website.
But other times, these distractions can be egregious. In one survey, employers shared their stories. In one case, a married employee was caught using a dating site at work — then denied it, even though the site was visible on his screen. Another employee was caught printing out an entire book.
The numbers describing wasted time are even more astonishing. About 89 percent of employees now waste time at work on a daily basis. Of those surveyed, 31 percent waste about 30 minutes each day. Another 31 percent waste an hour each day. And 16 percent waste about two hours each day.
The Cost of Wasted Employee Time
How are these distracted employees spending their time? About 38 percent of the distractions primarily come from social media, while another 39 percent come more generally from the Internet, according to a survey by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.
These figures vary by age groups, researchers at Kansas State University found. Older people tend to spend work hours managing their finances. Younger people, on the other hand, are more prone to spend their time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
And these distractions are costly. Very costly. One study put the total cost to employers at $85 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Such “cyberloafing” is taking a big bite out of employee productivity — one of the primary reasons highlighting the need for cloud-based internet filtering.
Security a Major Concern
Executives are rightly focused on the loss of employee productivity. That’s one incentive to pursue cloud-based Internet filtering. In their minds, cyberloafing is a kind of theft; employees are taking money in the form of a paycheck, and in return aren’t doing their jobs.
But there are other worries at hand — some of which decision-makers aren’t considering.
Malware is one of them. Each day, somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 legitimate websites are overtaken by cyber criminals. Users who visit these sites can be the unwitting victims of attacks. Compromised sites can infect users’ computers with malware that cause data breaches, resource drainage or a complete loss of computer functionality.
That’s a problem for employees who idly browse the Internet instead of doing their work. Indeed, most adept malware is designed to be stealthy, stealing company data and causing infections covertly and automatically. Such drive-by downloads can infect anyone’s computer, on any browser, whether or not the user is tech savvy.
It’s not only productivity that’s lost when an employee spends 15 minutes Googling a product, receiving an ad and going online shopping. Users can also compromise an entire organization’s network via an infection from a “malvertisement,” a seemingly innocuous ad that is loaded with malware.
Bandwidth and Liability
MSPs and other IT professionals are rightly concerned with their networks’ security. But free-ranging web users present another tricky set of challenges. Some of these difficulties involve network resources, and some present legal problems for organizations. All of these considerations, though, are within the umbrella of IT responsibility.
Here’s an easy one: bandwidth. Video content is also a drain on bandwidth. Even casual video browsing can place an enormous strain on network resources. And that can cause the rest of the network to lag. That’s one reason why IT professionals have turned to cloud-based internet filtering.
Another reason has to do with liability. Organizations are responsible for the web activities of their employees. One employee may spend a few minutes on a distraction, viewing a video that he finds funny. But to another employee, that video may seem offensive or even discriminatory. The result can be as small as an HR discussion — or as large as a costly legal dispute.
Why Choose Web Filtering
IT experts maintain that Internet filtering is an important enterprise solution since it helps mitigate the risks from lost productivity, malware, bandwidth drains and legal issues.
Productivity – Web filtering helps blunt the excessive use of non-work-related websites. This can be done in several ways. MSPs can institute a blanket policy, blocking website access requests across an organization. Or they can take a more granular approach, and grant access to certain users within an organization. They can also limit access to certain times of the day — say, lunch — which can improve organizational morale, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach.
Malware protection – The use of blacklists and whitelists can keep users off dangerous sites. Web filtering offers a crucial layer of protection, preventing users from getting near a security threat.
Bandwidth transparency – Bandwidth quotas can minimize disruptions to a network. Web filtering and monitoring are critical, too. The two tools, working in tandem, reveal which sites are hogging the most data. They also reveal which times of day are the most bandwidth-heavy. This important data helps organizations to plan for their future bandwidth needs and to take action against data drains.
Liability protection – Web filtering serves a dual role for employer liability. It can prevent users from accessing offensive or illegal material by blocking access. It can also act as an activity log, a key piece of evidence in a worst-case legal scenario.
No matter the issue at hand, experts argue that granular-level control is important for MSPs. Some employees may legitimately need access to YouTube. Others may not. And whether setting bandwidth quotas or blacklists, IT staff must tread carefully. Employee morale can suffer if they feel that a Big Brother is too strongly exerting control.
The Best Web Filtering
Security experts agree on the necessary functions of Internet filtering. And MSPs and other IT professional agree on the best solution on the market: SolarWinds MSP's (fomerly LOGICnow) MSP RMM.
With SolarWinds MSP’s comprehensive platform, you benefit from the best-in-class functionalities, including cloud-based internet filtering. Our filtering tools offer you the ability to:
- Protect against malware and phishing in addition to other web threats.
- Monitor your networks’ bandwidth usage with daily checks and usage alerts.
- Set custom blacklists and browsing policies that keep users off distracting or risky sites.
- Set time-based policies that allow users to visit blocked sites during custom hours.
- View advanced usage analytics, giving you a clear window into unusual browsing patterns.
Another benefit? With MSP RMM, you gain complete control over your networks’ web policies, all from a simple, lightweight web console. With our dashboard, you can set granular policies such as:
- Differentiated rules for laptops, desktops and servers.
- Custom messages that users receive when visiting blocked sites.
- Access rules dependent on different users.
The Strongest Email Filter
Security threats don’t only originate on the web. Email can be a significant vulnerability, too.
- Detects and deletes threats, through a unique combination of four antivirus engines.
- Defends against zero-hour threats, with early-stage malware identification.
- Routes messages through a secure email gateway, which keeps unwanted messages from ever reaching your infrastructure.
- Eliminates spam and phishing attacks through advanced fingerprinting.
- Assesses messages’ authenticity through an analysis of headers, formatting and encoding, among other factors.
- Offers MSPs the power to customize blacklists and white lists, making sure that your users only receive emails from trusted senders.
How to Stay Virus Free
With SolarWinds MSP, the defense doesn’t end at web protection and email filtering. SolarWinds MSP’s managed antivirus keeps your workstations and servers free of viruses. Our platform uses advanced heuristic checks and behavioral scanning to defend against new threats while offering a significantly lower rate of false positives than other enterprise solutions.
Our antivirus solution allows you to:
- Eliminate the most sophisticated threats, with continuous, real-time monitoring of programs that are traditionally vulnerable to malware exploits.
- Block threats through extensive signature-based scanning.
- Maintain security with lightweight scans that keep resource drains to a minimum.
- Schedule scans so they don’t interfere with worker productivity.
With SolarWinds MSP, MSPs have the strongest set of tools with which to work. That’s just one of the many reasons that 98% of MSPs using SolarWinds MSP retain their clients.
Want to see our platform in action? Give it a try with a risk-free 30-day trial today.
About SolarWinds MSP
SolarWinds MSP delivers the only 100% SaaS, fully cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) platform, backed by collective intelligence and the highest levels of layered security. SolarWinds MSP’s products including Risk Intelligence, Remote Management, Backup & Disaster Recovery, Mail and Service Desk – comprise the market’s most widely trusted integrated solution.
Deployed on millions of endpoints across hundreds of thousands of networks, the platform has the industry vision to define and deliver the future of the market. SolarWinds MSP provides the most comprehensive IT security available as well as LOGICcards, the first ever IT notification feature powered by prescriptive analytics and machine learning.
SolarWinds MSP’s passion is helping IT professionals secure and manage their systems and data through actionable insights, rewriting the rules of IT.
For more information, visit www.solarwindsmsp.com.
Kansas State University: https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jan13/cyberloaf13113.html
Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-key-to-getting-workers-to-stop-wasting-time-online-1457921545