Many companies, network administrators and others require some way to restrict access to specific websites or website categories. Though there are several ways to achieve this, some are more effective than others.
Using a Hosts File
If you are familiar with editing the hosts file on your PC or Mac, you can add a list of domains that you don’t want that computer to be able to visit. Though this is a simple, brute force method, it isn’t terribly effective or efficient. You’ll have to block every device by making these edits, and then hope that your users aren’t smart enough to edit the files themselves.
Using Router Software
Another way to block websites is with your router. A router is a device that directs traffic between your network and the Internet. Most popular routers offer some sort of access control features. You’ll have to have administrative access to the router. Even then, you’ll be relying on the built-in controls from the router manufacturer, which may or may not be robust or up-to-date.
The best way to block websites is at the gateway between your local area network (LAN) and the Internet. Setting up Untangle to work as either as a firewall router or as a transparent bridge allows you to examine all traffic going between your LAN and the Internet – including requests for websites.
Including either Web Filter Lite (free with Untangle Lite) or Web Filter (included with Untangle Standard Package and Untangle Premium Package) will enable you to examine every website request that your users make. You can choose to block or allow sites individually or by category, enabling you to finely control what is appropriate for your network. If your organization needs to meet regulatory compliance standards, Untangle can help. You can ensure that you create a safe, professional, productive working environment for your staff or students.
Untangle Web Filter vs. Web Filter Lite
Web Filter and Web Filter Lite both transparently scans HTTP traffic in order to block or log specific activity. Websites can be blocked or logged based on Category (Pornography, Social Networking, etc.), URL (facebook.com, youtube.com, etc.), MIME Type or File Type (.exe, .mp3, etc.).
Web Filter is better than Web Filter Lite in many ways:
- Block 450M+ (that’s million!) classified websites in over 140 categories and almost 200 languages. Great for “traditional” categories like porn, gambling, social networking & more. Web Filter Lite only blocks 15 categories and ~1 million URLs.
- Block new and unknown sites as users browse to them with Zvelo’s dynamic filtering and Distributed Intelligence Architecture (DIA). Great for rapidly changing sites like proxies, phishing, IM, and P2P.
- Leverage Zvelo’s Threat Protection Team for best-in-class online security. Great for spyware, phishing and virus distribution sites.
- Block encrypted sites (HTTPS) by category. Great for proxies and other sites that use HTTPS to obfuscate themselves.
- Youtube for Schools support
- SafeSearch enforcement
- Password option for the Unblock feature
Both Web Filter and Web Filter Lite provide network- and user-based reporting. Data from these apps is fed into Reports to show high level trends such as peak network usage hours as well as allowing administrators to drill down to the individual user level for activity monitoring.