URL and DNS Filtering: The Dynamic Web Security Duo

In Cybersecurity News - Original News Source is cybersecuritynews.com by Blog Writer

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Malicious actors have been around since the creation of the internet. The need to up your cybersecurity plan became a new reality In the aftermath of the pandemic, with the majority of businesses switching to work from the home hybrid model. 

Phishing attacks have increased by a staggering 220% during the pandemic, as hackers exploited unsecured remote access vulnerabilities. This poses a severe threat to your organization and critical assets. Other attacks that have begun to plague IT professionals are man-in-the-middle attacks as remote workers connect from an unsecured Wi-Fi connection at their local Starbucks or from the airport lounge. 

An employee logging on to a site containing harmful content such as gambling or gaming can inadvertently open a back door to a malicious actor. 

That’s why URL Filtering and DNS Filtering solutions are among the more popular content filtering methods that help maintain network security and reduce security risk. These services assess the content of sites and assign a risk score based on the site’s user traffic, the threat history of pages on the domain, geo-location, associated networks, internal and external links, and other contextual trends.  

There remains a debate on which works better between DNS and URL filtering for securing your online environment. Combining both options is the most ideal method of combating cyber threats online. Both work together to deliver essential security features against harmful sites and content.

These services assess online sites and assign a risk score based on the site’s user traffic, the threat history of pages on the domain, age of observance, geo-location, associated networks, internal and external links, as well as other contextual trends.  

Let’s take a closer look at both URL and DNS Filtering. 

Defend Against Web-Based Threats with URL Filtering

URL Filtering is used to identify and block harmful websites in order to improve network security and keep employees safe from potential attacks. 

URL filters classify sites according to topics and either allow or block a user from accessing them. These sites usually include gaming, shopping, adult content, malware, social media, and other unwanted high-risk websites that could threaten your private networks.

URL Filtering helps improve employee productivity as you control which sites can and should be accessed during work hours.  

How Does URL Filtering Service Maintain Network Protection?

The simplest explanation of how URL filtering works involves comparing the site the user wishes to visit against a list of sites that the company has restricted or allowed for use. If the site the user wishes to visit is blocked, the filtering system will redirect them to a similar site that contains what they need.

All websites in the database belong to a specific URL category, also known as a URL filter. This allows organizations to group certain types of websites while assigning specific actions to each category, such as blocking or accepting the destination address based on its URL category

The best way URL filters can be used is by creating a URL filtering profile and defining site access based on the URL category. You can choose to completely restrict site access or block certain features on the site based on its URL category. Once complete, the security policy will apply to all users by default.

URL filtering can be achieved using a cloud-based database, a local server, or a combination of both. A cloud-based server gives organizations information on the latest sites to block. A local database server stores a list of frequently visited sites by users and ensures maximum efficiency and minimal latency.

Block Domain-Level Threats with DNS Filtering

When a search query is entered into a browser, the DNS translates the DNS query into the user’s IP address and directs you to the desired site. While being simple, this process does not protect you from malicious activity or malicious content online.

With DNS filtering features, the search process becomes more secure. The DNS search query redirects to a DNS resolver. The resolver filters domain and checks them against the company’s blocklist and allowlist before taking necessary actions. If the domain is not listed in the blocklist or allowed list, the DNS filter can perform a real-time scan of the website to check if it is safe to view or harmful to the organization.

DNS security filtering can block either the domain name or the IP address.

What are DNS Servers?

DNS servers connect domain names to IP addresses to allow you to reach your desired website. Without DNS servers, it would be impossible to access online sites.

Secure DNS servers can block malicious websites and help users protect their personal information. DNS encryption protects your personal data from being stolen, a great concern for IT as the shift to remote work is here to stay.

URL Filtering and DNS Filtering? Which is better for you?

DNS protection and URL Filtering each have their strong points in security management. When used properly, they can both create a strong barrier between your organization and unwanted online content, prevent data breaches, and secure third parties from halfway across the globe with just a few clicks. 

But which one is the best out of the two options? Here is a side-by-side comparison table. 

DNS Filtering URL Filtering
Granularity Network-level rules based on DNS search queries Access policy based on users and groups 
Malware Protection Blocks DNS queries to  malicious domains Anti-malware engine that inspects all traffic 
Enforcement Point Perimeter 81 network requires agent connection Agent level enforcement even when not connected
DNS over HTTPS Enforcement No DNS over HTTPS inspection capabilities  Can inspect DNS over HTTPS

In Conclusion, DNS and URL filtering feature work hand in hand to uplift an organization’s security posture. A Secure Web Gateway offers URL Filtering with added levels of security in order to prevent malware and enforce company policies. 

DNS filtering provides surface-level control against malicious content and all types of attacks online by blocking the domain before the user can access it. As the threat surface continues to grow, organizations will be faced with new challenges. 

Take security precautions in advance. Keep your employees and corporate resources safe from web-based threats with Perimeter 81.