Tech moves fast! Stay ahead of the curve with Techopedia!
Join nearly 200,000 subscribers who receive actionable tech insights from Techopedia.
A Web filter is a technology that directs users away from certain URLs or websites by effectively preventing their browsers from loading certain pages from those sites. Web filters are made in different ways and deliver various solutions for individual, family, institutional or enterprise use.
In general, Web filters work in two distinct ways. They can block content based on the origin of the site, where a particular domain has a reputation for objectionable or harmful content, or they can evaluate the content of the page and block it accordingly. Many new Web filter tools also work off of an established URL database that shows which websites and domains have a history of hosting malware, phishing, viruses or other tools for harmful activities.
Web filters are often also built very differently based on their use. Some companies offer dedicated parental or "family-style" Web filters that would shield children from much of the objectionable content on the Web. On the other hand, other tools offer specific enterprise solutions that can either stop employees from doing harmful or unproductive things on the Web, or complement comprehensive network security, or both. Tools such as OpenDNS and other resources work on the basis of predictive analysis and can block certain URLs and protect enterprise systems.
The subject of Web filtering is sometimes controversial in an enterprise scenario. Employers sometimes point to laws such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley to justify the use of Web filtering to protect the employee’s user environment.