Using an Internet Site Blocker

It is most important to consider securing your network with an Internet site blocker if you are managing your company’s online security, operating a company providing WiFi access to the public, or are responsible for the online material users can view in your organization.

An Internet site blocker restricts access to websites known to be harboring ransomware and malware downloads, stops Internet users visiting websites constructed for the aim of executing phishing attacks, and can be set up to stop compromised websites from installing spyware and adware.

An Internet site blocker can also be used to prevent Internet access to websites including inappropriate online material or content that is in breach of acceptable use policies. This can help prevent the scenario in which individuals are exposed to online material they might find offensive and help businesses enhance their productivity by eliminating cyber-slacking.

An Internet site blocker employs a three-tier mechanism to protect networks – the first of which is a comparison against blacklists of websites known to include ransomware and malware downloads. The mechanism also uses SURBL and URIBL filters to stop Internet users visiting websites that have been built for phishing attacks and those that hide their identity behind the whois privacy feature.

Thereafter category filters can be applied in order to prevent Internet access to the categories of websites most likely to host malware (pharmaceuticals, travel, publishing, etc.) and cause offense (pornography, racial intolerance, hate speech, etc.). These filters can also be implemented to block Internet access to productivity-sapping activities such as online gambling and social media websites.

The last filtering mechanism – keyword filtering – can help fine-tune the category filters in order to ensure compliance with company Internet use policies and can also improve online security by preventing users visiting websites with certain words in their content, using apps of a certain nature, or downloading files with specific file extensions.

In order to prevent Internet access effectively, an Internet site blocker has to have a high degree of granularity and be simple to use. One of the reasons why early Internet filters were not embraced enthusiastically was because they were not adequately flexible to meet the demands of schools and colleges – whose students were frequently denied access to important educational content.

New mechanisms to block Internet access allow administrators to use the category and keyword filters by individual users, groups of users or group-wide. They can also be applied by time or bandwidth – allowing (for instance) employees working in marketing departments to access social media platforms within specific hours, while blocking access to social media platforms for all other staff members.

The reason why simplicity of use is crucial is because if an Internet site blocker is too complicated to understand, administrators will err on the side of caution and set the filtering parameters too strictly. If the filtering parameters are then relaxed too much, this could open doorways for cybercriminals to deploy their malware and ransomware payloads undiscovered.