What is Content Filtering and Why Do Organizations Need It on the Endpoint?

Explore how content filtering on the endpoint can reduce risks in an increasingly remote workforce.


While Hollywood has depicted cyberattacks as being conducted by a single, shadowy hacker sitting in a dark room and breaking into lucrative networks without needing to interact with any users on the network, in reality, over 90% of cyber attacks require some sort of user interaction. This sobering statistic alludes to the reality that often, user behavior and even the simplest user actions can have severe consequences that call for the attention of both network and security administrators to prevent and mitigate. In addition, with more endpoints than ever that are off-network, administrators require effective tools that prevent access to content that could pose a risk to users on each endpoint and organizations need tools that can reduce their attack surfaces in an increasingly off-network world. While content filtering has long been one of the integral tools that addresses both concerns, content filtering specifically on the endpoint is a necessary consideration in the face of today’s distributed workforce.

What is Content Filtering?

Content filtering is a software tool that allows the restriction or control of content a user is able to access across the web. This can allow the implementation of a company’s policies regarding web usage through hardware or on the company network. Content filtering addresses a primary security concern of organizations: how to control behavior on a certain endpoint, the internet or a network.

Content filters can use a variety of techniques and systems that are tied to other security tools like firewalls and can assist in blocking or allowing certain access to webpages. Because of this capability, there are a multitude of other benefits that can be accessed by enforcing certain policies through content filtering. On top of that, content filtering on the endpoint can provide protection regardless of the user’s network or location,

Why is Content Filtering Important on the Endpoint?

With the explosion of endpoints that are off-network due to hybrid and remote workforce trends, the best way for content filtering tools to help organizations reduce risks is by enforcing policies through the endpoint rather than traditional means such as through firewalls on the on-prem network. Specifically on the endpoint, content filtering can prevent cyber-attack intrusion methods such as: malware delivered via URLs, drive-by downloads, compromised legitimate websites and much more. Often times, the benefit of tools like content filtering is to protect users from themselves. Unfettered access to the internet can easily lead users to being especially vulnerable to common phishing and malware attacks.

Take the example of common social engineering and fraud phishing attacks where users are led to click through to a spoofed website. Attacks like this can lead to stolen credentials, unknowingly downloading malware files or worse. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, both government and private sector experienced increased risk of COVID-related phishing emails and spoofed sites that led to a 220% increase in phishing incidents. Falsely dressed as legitimate governmental websites or charitable donation requests, these malicious websites and emails were used as vehicles for credential harvesting, malware delivery and more. Although there have continued to be plenty of high-profile attacks on large enterprises in recent years, SMBs have become a common target for cybercriminals and stand to lose the most with many affected SMBs being bankrupted by cyberattacks. In today’s threat landscape, content filtering is a critical line of defense and reduces the risks to an organization’s cyber environment.

Use Cases for Content Filtering

While we started by highlighting the security needs and benefits of using content filtering tools, there are a variety of relevant use cases for content filtering beyond security:

  1. Increased Productivity: With seemingly endless demands on our shortening attention spans, many corners of the internet can become notorious productivity sinks. To counteract this, organizations can use content filtering to contribute to productivity by eliminating access to certain pages like social media, streaming or online shopping sites.
  2. Improved Network Performance: As non-work-related internet usage is restricted, the network’s bandwidth usage is alleviated, and organizations can experience faster connections with more efficiency.
  3. Compliance to Public Sector Regulations: For organizations such as educational institutions, state and local governments that have compliance and safety policies that need to be enforced, content filtering can keep employees from visiting known spam sites or students from accessing adult content – all of which can protect an organization against legal liabilities.

Finding the Right Content Filtering Tool for Your Organization

Content filtering has become an essential part of any administrator’s toolbox across today’s modern business landscape. Regardless of the vertical or size, the right content filtering tool should keep your organization productive, compliant and safe by enforcing proactive policies through content filtering.

SonicWall is a cybersecurity forerunner with more than 30 years of expertise and is committed to providing services and solutions that meet partners where they’re at. As part of this ethos, SonicWall Capture Client packages the best of enterprise-grade protection at the endpoint with other powerful and integral features like content filtering – which is often at an additional cost from separate vendors. Together, Capture Client is an endpoint solution that is cost-effective, consolidates tools and is a key component to a layered cyber protection and threat prevention strategy. While Capture Client’s dual engine is well-equipped to protect endpoints from all types of advanced threats, organizations need to take part in their own risk mitigation. They can do this by narrowing their attack surface and using Capture Client’s content filtering capabilities to altogether block access to inappropriate and malicious content.

To discover a truly unified dual-engine endpoint security solution and find out more about its content filtering capabilities, start a free trial or speak to our team today.

Isabelle Yang
Product Marketing Specialist | SonicWall
Isabelle Yang is a Product Marketing Specialist at SonicWall, primarily responsible for supporting SonicWall's Capture Client and EDR portfolio. She's experienced in all types of product launches in the cybersecurity space and is excited to utilize her storytelling capabilities to better educate businesses and organizations about cyberthreats and how to best prevent and defend against them.