A significant portion of employers (72%) block malicious and adult websites due to malware threats, according to research from cybersecurity company NordLayer, which adds that 43% block gambling sites too – likely due to concerns over addiction and productivity losses.

Research shows that NordLayer’s Domain Name System (DNS) filtering feature, which blocks malicious websites and filters out sites that contain harmful and/or inappropriate content, is also used for blocking phishing, cryptojacking, illegal, and DDoS as a Service (DaaS) websites. This way, employers try to protect their networks and systems from cyberthreats and illegal activities.

“DNS filtering is a critical component of any organisation’s cybersecurity strategy,” says Carlos Salas, a cybersecurity expert at NordLayer. “By blocking access to malicious and inappropriate websites, employers can significantly reduce the risk of malware infections and security breaches on their networks.”

Besides just blocking adult websites, many managers take a step further to maintain a professional work environment. For example, 30% block dating sites, 28% do not allow access to sex education websites, and about 12% of employers even block lingerie sites.

Information or sales related to drugs websites are blocked by 37% of IT managers. Interestingly, 21% of employers block VPN websites, likely to prevent employees from circumventing network restrictions and accessing blocked content which could pose security risks or productivity concerns.

“To lower distractions from work and promote productivity, 19% of IT managers restrict access to gaming websites because they can be time-consuming and embedded with ads and hyperlinks to other malicious websites,” says Salas. “Additionally, celebrity news websites and social media are blocked by 8% and 7% of employers respectively.”

When examining Internet access policies across different regions, notable variations emerge in terms of the categories receiving the highest restrictions. In Europe, businesses exhibit the greatest inclination to block adult content websites with 67% of employers imposing such restrictions.

North America prioritises mitigating security risks by having the highest percentage (70%) of employers blocking access to malware websites. Asia stands out with a distinct emphasis on curbing access to illegal or unethical content – as evidenced by 73% of employers restricting websites within this category.

Intriguingly, Asian businesses demonstrate a stricter approach towards gambling and gaming websites compared to their European and North American counterparts. While 64% of Asian employers block gambling sites, the figures stand at 37% and 38% for Europe and North America respectively. Similarly, 36% of Asian organisations restrict access to gaming websites, contrasting with considerably lower rates of 9% in Europe and 20% in North America.

Another noteworthy regional disparity lies in the treatment of dating websites. European and North American employers exhibit relatively comparable stances, with 25% and 28% blocking this category respectively. However, Asian businesses adopt a more restrictive policy with 45% of employers denying access to dating sites.

As mentioned, DNS filtering works by intercepting website requests and subjecting them to additional security checks. If a requested site is found on a blocklist or identified as malicious, the DNS resolver blocks the request, preventing access and mitigating potential cybersecurity risks. Managers can choose what types of content shouldn’t be accessible by employees on company-managed networks and the DNS filters will do the rest.

“In today’s threat landscape where cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, DNS filtering plays a pivotal role in safeguarding sensitive data, maintaining regulatory compliance, and preserving the integrity of organisational networks,” says Salas.