DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering: What are the differences?

DNS Filtering vs URL Filtering:
What are the difference?


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URL Filtering vs DNS Filtering

Today, it is easy to create a website and cyber criminals can use it to spread malware, phishing, or illegal information and images. Therefore, every organisation needs a filter to prevent employees from accessing malicious websites, by using DNS filtering or URL filtering. But what are the differences between them?

The Importance of Web Protection

We are now very dependent on the internet, whenever we need to find information just open a search engine, type queries, and there will be thousands of websites appearing. Therefore, in business it is important to have website protection because it helps keep sensitive information secure such as login credentials, financial information, personal data, and to make sure it is safe while browsing the internet.  

Without proper web protection, every organisation and individuals are at risk of cyberattacks such as hacking, malware, phishing that can lead to financial loss, identity theft, and reputational damage. In cybersecurity, web protection is very important for these several reasons:

1. Threat protection

Web protection helps to stop employees from accessing malicious, phishing, or dangerous websites that could compromise the security of the company’s important data and network.

2. Compliances

Certain types of industries have regulations that require companies to restrain access to some online contents such as adult material or gambling sites. Web protection can help companies to comply with these strict regulations.

3. Productivity

Web protection can help businesses to improve their employee productivity by blocking access to non-work-related websites. Moreover, this will prevent employees from wasting time on the internet during working time.

What is URL Filtering?

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the string of text that appears in the address bar of a browser. URL function is as a web address and as a web resource specifying its location on a computer network. However, not all URLs are safe to browse or look up for information. Some URLs present more of a risk than others, so to improve network security of an organisation it is essential to have URL filtering.

URL filtering is one of the methods of controlling internet access to websites based on their URL (web address). URL filtering can be used to block access to specific pages or sections of a website, not the entire domain. For example, employees can open https://edition.cnn.com/ to read news from CNN but some particular categories are blocked such as entertainment or jobs/employment from that domain. URL filters can also be used to block inappropriate website content that is being accessed through search engines or images search via Google, Yahoo, or Bing. 

Several benefits on using URL filter, for example:

  • Improved security: URL filtering can block access to specific pages or sections of a website, such as those containing malicious or phishing content, 
  • Increased productivity: By blocking access to specific pages or sections of websites, such as social media or streaming video sites, URL filtering can help increase employee productivity.
  • Granular control: URL filtering allows for greater control over internet access policies, because it can block access to specific pages or sections of a website, not the entire domain.
  • Compliance: URL filtering can help organisations comply with regulations that require the blocking of specific types of online content.
  • Ease of use: URL filtering is typically easy to implement and does not require the installation of software on individual devices, making it a convenient solution for controlling internet access.

What is DNS Filtering?

DNS filtering is a type of software that controls access to the internet by filtering the DNS (Domain Name System) where requests are made by users on a network. A DNS filter allows an administrator to control which websites or IP addresses users on the network can access, based on their policies and rules.

DNS filter gives the organisation the ability to filter bad or unwanted content at the DNS level. For example, if a company wants to block all social media sites and attempt to access a brand new social media site, then their employees can not access social media sites at all.

DNS filters can be used for a variety of purposes, such as enforcing content restrictions for security or compliance reasons, blocking malicious or phishing sites, or enforcing acceptable use policies for internet usage in the workplace. Some DNS filters also provide additional features such as reporting and analytics, to give administrators insight into internet usage on their network.

DNS Filtering offers several benefits, such as:

  • Improved security: DNS filtering can block access to malicious or phishing websites, preventing employees from inadvertently exposing the organisation to cyber threats.
  • Increased productivity: By blocking access to distracting websites, such as social media or streaming video sites, DNS filtering can help increase employee productivity.
  • Compliance: Certain industries have regulations requiring organisations to block access to certain types of websites, and DNS filtering can help organisations comply with these regulations.
  • Scalability: DNS filtering can be easily scaled to accommodate the changing needs of an organisation, as it does not require the installation of software on individual devices.
  • Centralised management: DNS filtering allows for the centralised management of internet access policies, making it easier for administrators to enforce policies across the entire organisation.


Overall, web protection such as URL or DNS filtering is important for a business to protect themselves from cyber threats. Since blocking access to known malicious websites can help prevent cyber attacks and reduce the risk of a breach.

For URL filtering, it is commonly used to prevent employees from accessing non-work-related sites during work hours. URL filter also provides more detailed, easy to use, and flexible solutions for controlling internet access compared to DNS filter because it only blocks access to certain websites based on their URL.

On the other hand, DNS filtering involves redirecting domain name requests to a specific server instead of the original destination in order to block access to certain sites. Compared to URL filtering, DNS filtering is commonly used for cybersecurity purposes because it can prevent employees from accessing malicious sites and to block access to specific categories of websites such as gambling or adult content.

In conclusion, URL filter is a more basic form of website control, while DNS filtering provides a deeper level of security and customisation. A company can choose to use both URL and DNS filtering, depending on their objectives and goals.

ArmourZero provides not only Endpoint Protection, but also Advanced Endpoint Protection as-a-Service such as Web Protection (in partnership with DNSFilter), Email Protection (in partnership with Avanan), and Patch Management (in partnership with Automox). 

Web protection as-a-Service from ArmourZero not only protects from malicious and phishing websites but can stop cryptojacking and block access to typosquatting. Learn more about ArmourZero Web Protection as-a-Service.

Fanny Fajarianti ArmourZero

Written by: 

Fanny Fajarianti (Performance Marketing). Experienced digital marketer in the information technology and services industry.

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