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Program Blockers

My company is looking for a program we can install on our server that will block the employee workstations from accessing different websites, ICQ, Yahoo, MSN and music downloads.
We are looking fro a program that is configurable so we can decide what they access and what they do not.

Thanks Scott
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scotthoule
Asked:
scotthoule
6 Solutions
 
EvarestCommented:
To block websites, you might try

http://www.netnanny.com/

Am not sure whether it's applicable for networks.

To block specific programs, you can try ProcAlert Pro:

http://www.esat.kuleuven.ac.be/~eschoofs/ProcAlert

Evarest
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moorhouselondonCommented:
A firewall will do the trick, choice depends on many factors: what network you have etc.  It is impossible to prevent access to all sites you would wish people not to see, but if it is made known that your company will be using a program that logs traffic then this combination will reduce undesirable traffic.  Many here will have better knowledge of which is best for your circumstances.

Some programs have a facility to add 'forbidden' words.  If one of these words or phrases occurs in the data stream then it can deny access to whatever it was that was being accessed.  Useful for checking if your credit card number is being thieved for example.  However, go easy on the forbidden words, one of my clients is a business centre and they had a ban on the word 'cock'.  Whoever set this up was not informed that one of the companies on the premises is a plumber!

You need to consider whether certain people in the organisation are permitted to use certain forbidden facilities.  This will complicate the way the firewall is set up.
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SBPCGuruCommented:
Most cable/dsl routers now have a function where you can block access to certain websites.
It will also keep a log for sites you will need to block in the future.
I saw this on a NetGear wireless, but not sure if Linksys or DLink has this feature.
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acmpCommented:
The industry leader is SurfControl. It's not cheap.

You canget a demo version from their website (http://www.surfcontrol.com/). The logs make interesting viewing as you can see everything that people have done over the internet.

It has very powerful rules that let you decide exactly how and what to control.

acmp<><
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OverSeerCommented:
http://www.websense.com. A very good program and centrally located so you don't go to each desktop...
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RoyInTexasCommented:
How about a free solution?

When your browser wants to connect to a website, it must first translate the english url to an numeric IP address.  It does this by connecting to a "URL to IP" address look up or translation server called a DNS(Domain Name Server).  It's kind of like looking up someones phone number in a  phone book.   You know look up thier English name and then you get their phone number.
 
So what you do is block this look up mechanism. To do this, you tell your bowser to look up the english url names locally from a file stored  on your PC first before it attemps to connect to the DNS server. And this file will contain the wrong IP address for the sight you want to block.  So if they have the wrong IP address(like a wrong phone number), they won't be able to connect to the desired website.
 
There is a special internet address called the loop back address which is predefiend to send all Internet requests back to the originating PCs.  It's called the loop back address.  It is 127.0.0.1.   Now that you know what the loop back address is, you setup your local look up file to give your browser the loop back address for any website you want blocked.  So no instead of connecting to a given website, they just connect to themselves.

 
When Internet Explorer attempts to look up a website's IP address from a DNS server, it first checks to see if there is a local address book first.  This local address book is called "Hosts". It has no extension and usually resides in your Windows\System 32 directory.  If it exists, IE will look up the address there first before it asks the DNS server for the IP address.  If the URL exits in the HOSTS file, IE will use that defined IP address for the one it will use to try connect with.  So now all you have to do is set up  your lists of websites to go to the loop back address instead of the intended website.
   

You either open (or create the Hosts it if it does not exist) with Word pad(don't use notepad because it will save the file with a .txt extension.  If you must use notepad, edit the file name such that it does not contain the extension).    

The first line in the Hosts file must be:
127.0.0.1  localhost

Now you can add any website you want after that:

127.0.0.1    localhost
127.0.0.1    www.Yahoo.com
127.0.0.1    www.PervertsRUs.com
127.0.0.1    www. AnyWebsiteYouWant.com

If you don't want to spend spend a lot of time creating a hosts file, there are tons of them on the Internet.  Just make sure you have Win Zip 9 SR-1 loaded on your machine to protect yourself from the known Zip file secuirty bug or just download a Hosts file from a trusted website.

Note that any line that begins with a "#" is a comment.  So lets say you wanted to temporarily unblock a webiste, you just put a # in front of it.  For example, lets say I wanted to unbock Yahoo, I would do it like this:

127.0.0.1    localhost
#127.0.0.1    www.Yahoo.com
127.0.0.1    www.PervertsRUs.com
127.0.0.1    www. AnyWebsiteYouWant.com

No every time you try to connect to yahoo, IE will get the correct address from the DNS server instea of the Hosts file.

The really slick thing with this blocking mechanism is that you can now block any add server you want.  How about surfing with no adds? Pretty cool for those folks who are still stuck with a dial up connection. Saves lots of time if you don't have to wait for all those mega bit graphial adds to load.

If you are using a different browser(which I would recommend for any business because of all the security holes in IE), the process is similar but a little more complicated.
 
For further reading, go to the following URL:
http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm
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acmpCommented:
There are several good suggestions that could solve the problem.

Maybe a split would be in order.

acmp<><
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