FortiGuard Web Filtering Service review

FortiGuard delivers first-rate security that can be easily enforced across multiple sites

FortiGuard
(Image: © FortiGuard)

TechRadar Verdict

FortiGuard comes with a handy set of features in a single package to help you secure and filter all types of content you interact with.

Pros

  • +

    Range of web filtering features

  • +

    Security profile customization

  • +

    Content access control

Cons

  • -

    You have to contact sales to get a quote on the price

  • -

    Learning curve is pretty much constant

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Designed by Fortinet, an American multinational focused on cybersecurity solutions, antivirus, and intrusion prevention systems, FortGuard Web Filtering Service is a cloud-based web filtering platform that makes use of AI to keep your virtual security borders clean and safe. Yet, its scope of use goes beyond “mere” security as this web filtering engine will also help you tailor the web content you and your employees interact with down to the most granular level. Now, let’s see how it fares when put side by side with its competitors in an increasingly crowded web filtering market. 

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Security Features 

FortiGuard Web Filtering offers a set of security features you’ve come to expect from a product of this type, yet with its own twist. Its central pillar is the Web Filtering service which the provider advertises as being “certified”, primarily for the tasks it performs in the malicious software prevention category.

URL filtering is powered by AI and delivered via the cloud to create a comprehensive security perimeter around the systems you want to protect, no matter how remote they are. Countered threats include phishing attacks, credential thefts, ransomware, etc.

What AI does, in this case, is that it provides behavioral analysis for all of these and many other threats and correlates ensuing data. Deploying AI for this task offers two-fold benefits: it allows FortiGuard to offer a URL filtering service that can instantly block dangerous URLs while also reducing the number of false negatives.

Valuable threat intelligence is provided by FortiGuard Labs which extracts analytical insights from billions of security events across the globe in real-time.

Going beyond security, FortiGuard’s IP Reputation feature will allow you to restrict access to undesirable types of content across multiple sites. You will be able to fine-tune this access-limiting feature down to the level of a particular type of content on a single site which can be made inaccessible simply because it belongs to a particular “genre”. While FortiGuard will come with pre-defined “sensitivity” to gambling or adult content (there are more than 90 categories), you are free to customize the content filtering services in terms of their stringency and content types to your heart’s content.

Content classification also covers encrypted traffic, which is useful in meeting increasingly demanding compliance requests. Exclusion filters can be set up for trusted sites to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the changing security conditions in the field. This means that URL filtering will be enforced at the web address level, with available filtering options covering blocking, exempting, allowing, and monitoring.

Dedicated video filtering is a rare feature to be seen in the product category and is FortiGuard’s shield against inappropriate streamed content, such as that found on YouTube.

DNS filtering is also given a dedicated feature, providing you with protection against DNS-based threats that include domain generation, tunneling, and C2 server identification.  All DNS traffic will be put under FortiGuard's magnifying glass, helping it block parked and newly registered domains as well as other domain-based threats.

Finally, the platform’s Anti-botnet Service will prevent unauthorized communication with compromised servers that can provide malicious commands and try to extract sensitive information.

Usability 

If you are after a consistent web filtering service for your endpoints, networks, or cloud deployments, FortiGuard Web Filtering Service will easily find its way to your security arsenal. Putting all security operations under a single cloud umbrella comes with the bonus of being able to automate them to the degree you are comfortable with.

If you are, for example, bothered by false negatives, you’ll soon learn to love FortiGuard’s dedication to minimizing this nuisance. If you are after getting blanket security coverage for all of your sites, FortiGuard’s web filtering will get the job done in a balanced way, with no varying levels of security among the sites.

Its URL Database Categories can be easily set up for customers as diverse as home-based users, schools, or companies. In this manner, FortiGuard offers a sort of out-of-the-box functionality, which is certainly a plus, particularly when we know that filtering the content for kids is different from doing so for your workforce. Speaking of the workforce, if you are running a business, FortiGuard can also add to your efficiency goals, as the easily restricted content categories will surely cut down on potential sources of procrastination and distraction during working hours.

Management Features 

Fortinet FortiGate gives you a king-of-the-hill view of what happens with your lines of defense in the cyberworld. The automated control console is a veritable looker that does not sacrifice the looks for functionality. You will know what happens with the services and the network at any time, paired with the around-the-clock digital reporting feature.  

Your administrators will have a clear view of all active firewalls from a single location. All information on the incoming threats and the state of the system are collected and presented in real-time. What you should be wary of is the fact that getting the gist of these systems once is not enough – each system update will also require you to “update” what you know about running it in parallel. This raises the learning bar just slightly, yet noticeably, prompting you to have at least a few security experts on the team all the time.

Management scalability is excellent, though, as you can add the number of users covered and increase the amount of traffic without fear of significantly compromising the performance levels of your FortiGuard.

Pricing 

FortiGuard is a bit reticent when it comes to pricing – to get a quote, you will have to get in touch with the support personnel and present your case to them. 

Our Verdict 

FortiGuard comes with a handy set of features in a single package to help you secure and filter all types of content you interact with. In addition to URL and web filtering capabilities, FortiGuard delivers first-rate security that can be easily enforced across multiple sites thanks to its cloud-based deployment. This is particularly useful if you need various types of access authorization for different users, no matter the size of your organization. Combined with flexible deployment and streamlined management, FortiGuard is a clear winner that should be considered in every situation.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.