Once upon a time, a firewall was just what it sounds like: a wall constructed to prevent fire from spreading from one part of a building to another.
Nowadays, the more commonly understood definition is the computing one: “A network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.” It forms a barrier between a trusted internal network and an untrusted external network, such as the Internet.
However, not every employee needs the same level or variation of access. While you want most team members to stay off travel sites, planning their next vacay during office hours, you’ll want to create a user profile granting access to travel sites for administrative staff who plan business-related sales and executive travel, for instance.
Even core websites that are legitimately blocked across the board for most employees, like adult, gambling, drug or criminal content, would be some of the same sites that a municipality network administrator would grant access to for police officers investigating trafficking activity.
A more laissez-faire, “open” policy is not ideal either. We often hear from our clients, “We trust our employees, so we don’t restrict external network or Internet access for them.” More than a productivity issue, this can open a network up to unnecessary risk, as employees browse websites that may infect your network.
(Contrary to popular belief, however, banning unsavory content does not protect you from malware. As Cisco’s 2015 Annual Security Report debunked, “the top industries that pose a risk to you through their websites, depending on where you live, include aviation, media and publishing, agriculture and mining, food and beverage, insurance, automotive, and real estate and land management.” Not what you expected, huh?)
There truly is no “one size fits all” approach to setting up user profiles and access on your network. By selectively blocking unsafe or unproductive websites, creating different profiles with different levels and kinds of access for different people, you can maximize productivity while protecting your network.
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