Business Web Filter

There are several benefits of a business web filter in healthcare, the most important of which is to provide an additional layer of security to protect against phishing and malware attacks. The healthcare industry has been extensively targeted by threat actors seeking access to the protected health information of patients and health plan members and attacks have been increasing year after year.

The 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) shows ransomware attacks increased by 17% between 2020 and 2021 and were involved in 25% of data breaches. The percentage rise is greater than the increases over the past five years combined. Phishing attacks are a leading cause of healthcare data breaches and attacks have also increased. Phishing is also one of the main ways that ransomware actors gain access to healthcare networks.

The report also revealed the human factor is involved in 82% of all healthcare data breaches, with social engineering involved in 25% of breaches, demonstrating why it is important to ensure that threats do not reach employees and that they are neutralized if they do.

The increase in the number and sophistication of cyberattacks means multiple layers of protection need to be implemented. Should any one element of your security defenses fail to block a threat, other measures will be in place that will continue to provide protection, which is where a business web filter can help.

A Business Web Filter Improves Protection Against Phishing Attacks

Healthcare organizations need an advanced email security solution, but even best-in-class email security gateways will not prevent all phishing emails from reaching inboxes without also blocking an unacceptable number of genuine emails. Phishing emails are often opened by healthcare employees and large numbers of data breaches are reported each year where employees have responded to phishing emails and have disclosed their login credentials.

A business web filter provides time-of-click protection against the malicious links in phishing emails and will apply filtering controls on the final destination URL. Email security solutions tend not to follow all redirects, and users are often redirected multiple times before they arrive at the malicious site for that reason.

Improve Malware and Ransomware Protection

While email is one of the most common vectors for distributing malware, there is often a web-based component of the attack. Rather than attaching a malware installer to an email, the malware is downloaded from the Internet to evade email security gateways.

Business web filtering solutions include threat intelligence feeds that automatically update them when new malicious web content is identified, which ensures all users are protected as soon as a new threat is discovered. Most web filtering solutions can be configured to block downloads of certain file types from the Internet such as executable files, which are used to install malware. By blocking executable files it is also possible to control the downloading of unauthorized software from the Internet, otherwise known as shadow IT, which carries security risks. A business web filter will also prevent redirects to sites hosting malware from general web browsing.

Exercise Content Control

Aside from cybersecurity, a business web filter can be used to carefully control the content that can be accessed while connected to the network for employees and guest network users. A business web filter can be configured to filter out illegal and undesirable content, which could cause offense, harm, or expose the business to legal risks. Filtering is often possible based on the presence of certain keywords on a page in addition to blocking by category, with those controls able to be applied across the organization, for user groups, departments, or individuals.

Benefits of a DNS-based Business Web Filter

Traditionally, a business web filter was a dedicated appliance housed on-premises that applied filtering controls after downloading content; however, DNS-based web filters are now much more popular. DNS filtering is provided as a cloud service where all filtering takes place in the cloud on the service provider’s servers, which offers several advantages.

DNS-based filters utilize the Domain Name System (DNS), otherwise known as the address book of the Internet. The DNS system is used to match a URL or domain name with its corresponding IP address, to allow that web resource to be located. DNS lookups are rapid and take a fraction of a second. By applying filtering controls using the DNS, filtering is quick and also takes a fraction of a second, plus no content is downloaded with is better for security. If the content is malicious or violates administrator-set policies, the IP address will not be sent to the browser.

These services also have the benefit of the scalability of the cloud, so capacity is never an issue. There is also no need to purchase any hardware, maintain hardware, or perform any software updates or patching – That is all handled by the service provider.

Important Business Web Filter Features

If you are searching for a business web filter, there are key features to look for that will ensure you get the protection you need, without requiring extensive configuration and maintenance. While the content control mechanisms are mostly set and forget features – apply your acceptable Internet usage policies and restrict access to content – look for a solution with extensive reporting and real-time views of Internet access. IT security teams will then be able to conduct investigations of threats and take rapid steps to reduce risk.

Granular controls are important for precision filtering, and easy integration with directory services will make it easier to apply different filtering controls for user groups and locations. Cloud-based DNS business web filters are usually the lowest maintenance solutions. It also pays to check independent review sites – G2, Expert Insights, Capterra, Spiceworks, and Gartner for example – to find out how easy solutions are to use and how they perform.

In terms of protection, choose a solution with AI-powered threat detection and extensive threat intelligence, as this will ensure users are protected from zero-hour and zero-minute threats, such as new phishing URLs and recently compromised websites. It is also important to choose a solution with SSL inspection as otherwise the content of HTTPS websites cannot be inspected. Threat actors often host malware on HTTPs site to make detection harder.

If you want to protect remote workers, ensure the solution incorporates an agent or app that can be downloaded onto portable electronic devices to ensure filtering controls and threat blocking will be in force no matter where the device is used to access the Internet.


A web filter will improve protection against web-based cyberattacks such as phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and botnets, and will allow you to exercise control over the content that can be accessed on your wired and wireless networks.