Originally published September 19, 2019 and updated February 25, 2021.

At Netsweeper, our data shows that child exploitation, cybercrime, and illicit content are on the rise on the internet – child exploitation sites alone have quadrupled since the pandemic again, and the Internet Watch Foundation has seen a 77% increase in the amount of self-generated child sexual abuse content. Now more than ever, web filtering has become a necessity to protect users on the internet.

Web filtering is software that controls or restricts a user’s access to content on the internet. It is also known as URL filtering, content filtering, and internet filtering. 

There are two different ways to block access to websites  by category, or by URL. For example, you can block categories of websites such as Criminal Skills and Hate speech. Check out the different ways Netsweeper categorizes content on our Live Stats page.

Individual URLs can also be blocked. Lists of specific websites to be blocked can be created and put on a blacklist. 

Besides controlling the content a user can access, web filters can also prevent malware from infecting a user’s device. They also provide insight into the type of material a user is searching for, and can have timers to shut down access to selected websites for designated time periods.

Who Uses Web Filters? 

  • Governments and telecommunications providers use web filtering to block child pornography, terrorist, and other illegal material. Netsweeper partners with organizations like the IWF and CTIRU to provide further protections regarding terrorist and child abuse related content

  • School districts, schools, and those that support for them (for example, our partner LGfL) use web filtering to protect students from malware and ensure that they don’t come across harmful content (for example, radicalization). Educational messaging can also increase literacy  
  • Businesses, who use web filters to control access to certain websites to increase their productivity and ensure that network bandwidth is being used appropriately 
  • People who use web filtering to block websites to increase their personal productivity 

Learn More About Web Filtering

Listen to our CEO, Perry Roach, discuss the evolution of the internet and why web filtering is important.  

To learn more about web filtering, please download our Technology Solution Brief

How Netsweeper Can Help

Netsweeper provides industry leading carrier-grade web content filtering solutions, backed by over 20 years of research and development, and is designed to excel in complex and highly demanding network environments.

The Netsweeper content filtering platform has been built with the perfect combination of functionality, scalability, and reliability. Available in multiple deployment architectures, it leverages Netsweeper’s real-time AI-based Category Name Service (CNS) to deliver feature rich content filtering functionality to the education, telecom, government, and business markets.

Have questions about web filtering? Reach out to our team.