URL Filtering is a key feature of next-generation firewalls. Anyone who’s ever been blocked from visiting a website at an office or even on a public WiFi network, has firsthand experience with this feature.  In short, URL filtering dictates which websites users can and can’t visit.

How does it do it?  A next-generation firewall is in regular communication with a centralized database that associates websites with common categories. So a customer can block users from visiting sites that fall into categories like gambling, adult or video streaming.

On top of that, customers can fine tune their settings by defining access rights for certain groups or individuals, limiting access by times of day or adding or eliminating specific sites from a category. As an example, if you don’t want your staff spending time on social media sites, you can block it. But a company can make exceptions for, say, their marketing team, who uses social media for legitimate business reasons, or just allow them to use LinkedIn. Or, they can even open up access to social media for a specified time, like between noon and 1:00 PM so users can check Facebook and Twitter over lunch.

URL Filtering has a few key benefits that are important to share with your customers. They’ll improve productivity by keeping staff focused on their work. They’ll prevent users from chewing up valuable network resources with non-business related activity; and, if that’s not enough, they’ll avoid the uncomfortable conversations that result from staff visiting dangerous or inappropriate websites.

Want to learn more? Check out other episodes of Nitel’s Bits & Bytes.