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What Is DNS Filtering And How Does It Help Protect Your Business?

Cybersecurity | Networking

Cybersecurity risks have been on the rise for years. As hackers and malicious actors develop new technologies and tools to infiltrate networks your business is at more risk now than ever. The good news is that the products and services designed to protect against these attacks have also continued to evolve.

Like most business leaders you may be wondering if you have the technology services and best IT safeguards in place to keep your business data secure. One of the most important and powerful tools that can keep your business ahead of cyber-attacks is DNS Filtering.

In this article, we will explore what DNS filtering is and how it works. We’ll also cover why it’s an important and a cost-effective tool you can use to keep your business safe from the most common cyber threats.

As a Network Engineer at Kelser, I work with many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to find the best security tools and solutions for their business while balancing their budgetary concerns. 

As a managed IT services provider, Kelser works proactively with customers to understand their business, their unique technology pain points and implement proactive, relevant solutions. 

Don’t worry, though, I’m not writing this article to persuade you to work with us or that our solution is exactly what you need. Instead, the purpose of this article is to provide you with the information you need to decide which technology solutions are a good fit for your organization. 

What is Domain Name System (DNS)?

In order to understand what DNS filtering is, you first need to understand what Domain Name System (DNS) is. Confused? Don’t be. You can think of DNS as the internet's address book and translator. It converts domain names like (www.kelsercorp.com) for example, into numerical IP addresses that computers can understand. 

This process is important because computers use these IP addresses to communicate with each other. Every time you enter a web address into your web browser, a DNS server silently works behind the scenes to find the corresponding IP address.

Here are the two key functions of DNS you need to know about:

1. Name Resolution

It converts domain names i.e.(www.kelsercorp.com) to numeric IP addresses, including both IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses.

2. Load Distribution

It spreads out traffic to keep servers from getting too busy.

Simply put, DNS is an essential mechanism behind how the internet works and how you access web content. No website will load before the DNS process works behind the scenes and matches the domain name with the corresponding IP address.

A valuable tool your business can use to control what content and websites your employees and users can access is DNS Filtering.

What is DNS Filtering?

DNS filtering is a type of access control tool that you can use to block malicious websites and harmful content. You can think of it as filtering and limiting access to what websites and links your users and employees can access.

How Does DNS Filtering Work?

DNS filtering works by checking each website against a database of malicious sites. If it flags and recognizes a website as malicious or harmful, access to that website is blocked. Let’s run through a quick example of how DNS filtering works.

Let’s say an employee receives a phishing email and doesn’t have the education or security training to know how to identify that this email is malicious. They open the email and click the harmful website link. DNS filtering would intervene by first checking if the dangerous website is on the company or malicious website database block list.

When it recognizes it is, it will block the website and prevent it from loading altogether, and thus stop the phishing attack in its tracks.

It's important to remember that your employees are always your first line of defense against cyber incidents. Therefore, employee security awareness training should be a top priority for all businesses.

However, if a malicious link was to slip through, you can see how DNS filtering provides an extra layer of protection to safeguard your business from malware, phishing attacks, and other online threats.

What Are The Types Of DNS Filtering Available?

There are 4 main types of DNS filtering for your business.

1. Content Filtering

Content filtering blocks access to inappropriate content like gambling or other harmful websites.

2. Security-Based Filtering

Security based filtering blocks malware filled websites and phishing links that can infiltrate your network and steal your data.

3. Application based filtering

Application based filtering restricts access to specific applications and file sharing services.

4. User-based filtering

User based filtering allows you to create different filtering rules for different employees. It allows you to grant access to certain employees to verified websites. For instance, a marketing employee may require access to social media sites to promote your business.

With user-based filtering, you can permit this access for the marketing team while still restricting it for other employees.

What Are The Advantages Of DNS Filtering?

  • Enhanced Cybersecurity

DNS filtering provides an extra layer of security to prevent cyber incidents and stops your employees from reaching malicious websites before they can cause harm. You get peace of mind because your employees will have an added security net to stop phishing and malware attacks.

  • Compliance

Certain industries have stricter data protection regulations that are mandatory. DNS filtering may be one of them. Having DNS filtering can help your business be compliant by preventing cyber incidents and leaking sensitive information.

  • Cost-Effective

In most instances DNS filtering is a cost-effective cybersecurity tool to implement because of seamless integration with existing network infrastructure and the ease of configurability. DNS filtering also can be used to protect all devices on your network, regardless of device type or manufacturer.

What’s The Bottom Line?

After reading this article, you now know what DNS Filtering is, how it works and the advantages it can bring to your business. You also understand that DNS filtering gives you that extra layer of security, like a safety net, in the event your employees click a malicious phishing link or download harmful malware.

Overall, you now understand that DNS filtering is a valuable and cost-effective cybersecurity tool that can help you safeguard your business data.

Cybersecurity can feel like a moving target. The solutions that were effective last year (or even last month) may or may not be enough today. The bottom line is you don’t want your security to be lacking, or just “good enough.”  With cyber-attacks, it’s not a question of if you will become a victim, but when.

The best you can do is prepare and invest in protection before an event so that you can mitigate the impact of the event when it happens. 

At this point, you may be wondering whether your internal staff has the tools and resources to keep up with cybersecurity on top of managing the daily needs of users. You are not alone. Many business leaders in this situation turn to external IT support to augment their internal staff. 

If you are considering partnering with an external IT provider for support, I encourage you to check out several options so that you find a provider that is the right fit for your organization. 

It may seem strange to encourage you to explore several options, but the truth is that it doesn’t do you or us any good to enter into a partnership that isn’t the right fit. We’re here to provide the information you need to make the best technology decision for your organization. 

If you prefer to tackle cybersecurity on your own, click the button below for a free checklist you can use to:

✔️Understand where your organization's cybersecurity policy needs improving
✔️Learn actions you can take to keep your organization's data secure
✔️Help ensure your organization follows the latest cybersecurity best practices

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If you still have questions, use the button below to connect with one of our IT support specialists who will reach out to schedule a 15-minute chat. Not a sales call, just a conversation.

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About Jorge Soriano-Garcia

As a network engineer, Jorge focuses on efficiency and security. He brings a quiet enthusiasm to his work and enjoys the challenge of finding creative solutions to complex networking issues.

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