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Directive has been serving the Oneonta area since 1993, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Protect Your Network and Keep Your People Productive with a Firewall and Content Filtering

Protect Your Network and Keep Your People Productive with a Firewall and Content Filtering

In today’s 24/7 always-online business environment, it is unrealistic to expect your team to spend 8 hours in front of a computer and not access their personal email or click on a non-work-related link. It happens every day. What also happens every day is that an SMB finds its network compromised by malware or a loss of productivity due to a lack of focus.

Enforcing a ‘work-only’ online policy can prove problematic, especially when web access is critical to business productivity. Fortunately, a web filtering and firewall solution can take the hassle out of monitoring what your team accesses and who accesses your network.

How Can A Small or Medium-Sized Benefit From Web Filtering?

Web filtering, also known as content or information filtering, lets you automatically screen inappropriate content. By monitoring and controlling which websites are visited, team members are prevented from accessing websites or other content deemed inappropriate or even dangerous for your business. Inappropriate content can include social media, job-searching sites, online games, and adult-themed subject matter. You can restrict sites that employees waste time on, and prevent both HR and IT issues by preventing users from going to more dangerous sites.

You can also control who can see what. Your HR department probably should have access to some of those job listing sites, and your marketing department definitely needs unrestricted access to social media to do their jobs. You can even leave sites like Twitter and Facebook unrestricted for the majority of your staff, and only block them for users that tend to get distracted by them. The content filter will report on all of that.

With the average worker admitting to spending over 2 hours of the average 8-hour workday on personal Internet use, it’s easy to see the value in investing in a web filtering solution. However, while a web filter can prevent your team from accessing content which places your organization at risk, it can’t prevent your system from being compromised by external attacks. For that, you need something else.

You Need a Firewall

A firewall (whether hardware or software-based) works as a barrier between your computer and the Internet. Your network is continuously sending and receiving data, often without your knowledge. A firewall examines and filters the data allowing ‘good’ requests while blocking questionable ones. Firewalls are a critical part of your network’s security, because they stop a lot of threats before they even hit your network.

“But A Firewall Came With My Computer”

While modern operating systems include a basic software firewall, they are often not robust enough to protect your data from serious cyberattacks. This is in part due to what type of traffic they monitor: usually only incoming traffic; leaving your outgoing traffic exposed. Outgoing traffic occurs when you use your credit card to make a purchase online, or when someone within your business sends out data. It is this type of information a hacker is interested in capturing.

A fully-featured hardware firewall would monitor incoming and outgoing traffic, reducing opportunities for your data to be compromised. It would also have the capability to update its database of malicious applications, allowing you to remain safe even if cybercriminals change their tactics. 

One thing to keep in mind is that while a firewall may prevent your system from being compromised by outside actors, it can’t remove cyberattacks that have already taken root. For that, you need a robust antivirus solution and a way to filter inappropriate content which may be the vector and which brings us back to a web filter.

If only there was a turnkey solution...

The Advantages of a UTM for an SMB

The main advantage of implementing a Unified Threat Management solution (UTM) is it combines web filtering with a firewall, reducing opportunities for threats to enter your system. A UTM offers firewall, antivirus, spam blocking, and web filtering, creating the ultimate security package. With a UTM in place, your business no longer has to use a hodge-podge of devices, software, permissions, and training, because the UTM is a turnkey solution and when properly configured… unintrusive.

Always remember the number one vulnerability in your network security will be a team member. While the act may not be malicious, the action may allow malicious actors access to your network. A UTM with its multifaceted protections can proactively secure your systems from user error as well as deliberate cyberattacks, all behind the scenes. 

Some Features Of A UTM:

  • Blocks Viruses, Spyware, and Phishing Sites
  • Completely customizable; block or allow any number of sites for different users
  • Automatically protect your organization from inappropriate workplace content
  • Intrusion Prevention to stop hackers before they reach internal servers and desktops
  • Can comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), perfect for schools and public infrastructures

Cost-Effective IT Solutions For Local Businesses

Security isn’t a luxury reserved exclusively for big business. Technology shouldn’t be out of reach for small and medium-sized businesses. Our revolutionary small business Managed Services are designed from the ground up to provide Enterprise-level and innovative solutions for an SMB like yours. For more information about our Web Filtering & Firewall solution, or another of our wide range of IT services, call us at 888-546-4384 today.

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Tuesday, November 29 2022

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