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How to Control Internet Access Based on Users

Photo of a man's torso while he uses a laptop

Would you like to learn how to control internet access based on users? This article will provide a quick and easy how-to guide using a free trial of BrowseControl, CurrentWare’s web filtering software. 

Tutorial – how to block websites based on users

Need to restrict internet access in your network? In this tutorial you will learn how to block websites using a free trial of BrowseControl, CurrentWare’s web content filtering software.

With BrowseControl you can…

Block websites based on URL, category, domain, or IP address

Schedule unique internet restrictions throughout the day 

Assign custom policies for each group of computers or users,

and enforce internet usage policies, even when devices leave the network

There are 3 ways to block employee internet access with BrowseControl

1) Block access to specific websites with the Block List

2) Restrict internet access to only certain sites with the Allow List 

3) Using the Category Filtering feature you can block access to content categories such as Porn, Virus Infected, or Social Media 

For complete control over internet and application use in your network, you can combine BrowseControl with BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s internet monitoring software.

All right, let’s get started.

To begin, sign up for a free trial of BrowseControl at CurrentWare.com/Download. After filling out the form you will be provided with the files you need to get started with BrowseControl.

To install BrowseControl, run CurrentWare.exe on the administrator’s computer and follow the installation instructions; this will install the CurrentWare Console and Server. 

After that, deploy the CurrentWare Client Setup file (cwClientSetup.exe) on all of the computers you would like to control. 

From there you can import your Active Directory organizational units or manually create your desired policy groups.

For full installation instructions, please visit our knowledge base at CurrentWare.com/Support. 

Now that you have BrowseControl installed, I’ll show you how to block specific websites based on their URL, domain, or IP address with the URL Filter.

This feature can be used to block your employees from accessing distracting websites like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram.

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on the URL Filter then select “Blocked List”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Enter the URL, domain, or IP address of the websites you want to block to the master URL list, then press the Enter key or click “Add”. 

BrowseControl will apply a wildcard to the URL, ensuring that any paths within the domain will be blocked as well.

In the master URL list, select the websites you want to block for the chosen group, then click “Add to Blocked List”.

If you would like to add the selected websites to the block list of multiple groups, you can press the drop-down arrow and select “add to multiple groups”, select the desired groups, then click “add to blocked list”

If you have a large number of websites you would like to block, you can also use the import feature to import an existing list.

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

That’s it! You have now blocked your employees, students, or patrons from accessing those specific websites. 

Next, I’ll show you how to restrict internet access to only certain sites.

This feature is ideal if you want to prevent your employees, students, or patrons from accessing websites that are not explicitly allowed by your organization.

The process is identical to how you would block a website, except this time you will set the internet to “off” and add the websites you would like to allow to the Allow List.

With this method, your users will only be able to access the exact websites that have been approved by your company.

Here are the full instructions.

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on the URL Filter, then ensure that “Allowed List” is selected

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Next, set the internet to “Off”. This will ensure that only the websites that are added to the allowed list can be accessed.

Enter the URL, domain, or IP address of the website you want to allow to the master URL list, then press the Enter key or click “Add”. BrowseControl will apply a wildcard to the URL, ensuring that any paths within the domain will be allowed as well.

In the master URL list, select the websites you want to allow for the chosen group, then click “Add to Allowed List”

If you would like to add the selected websites to the Allowed list of multiple groups, you can press the drop-down arrow and select “Add to Multiple Groups”, select the desired groups, then click “Add to Allowed list”

If you have a large number of websites you would like to allow, you can also use the import feature to import an existing list.

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

Next, I’ll show you how to block websites based on content categories such as Porn, Virus Infected, and Social Media 

With BrowseControl’s category filtering feature you can block billions of websites across over 100 URL categories. More than 10,000 new domains are added each day, making it simple to restrict internet access even as new sites emerge. 

Here’s how:

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers, then select the desired mode.

Next, click on “Category Filtering”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Select the web content categories you would like to block, then click “Add to Blocked List”

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

That’s it! 

The Allow List can also be used in tandem with the Category Filtering feature to allow websites that would otherwise be blocked based on their content category. 

For example, you could use the Category Filtering feature to block Social Media while still allowing access to LinkedIn.

Now that you’ve seen the 3 key ways you can block a website with BrowseControl, I’d like to show you how to restrict internet access at certain times.

With BrowseControl’s Internet Scheduler you can schedule custom block or allow lists throughout the day. 

This feature will bring some flexibility to your internet restriction policies; in this example, we will allow our employees to browse the internet during lunchtime.

Here’s how to use the internet scheduler

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on “internet scheduler”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Next, click “New Schedule”

Set the start and end time of the schedule. Then, select the schedule type.

Internet On will allow internet access to all websites that are not on the URL Block List

Custom allowed list will only allow access to specific websites.

Custom blocked list will block access to a specific list of websites and allow access to the rest of the internet.

Custom Category blocked list will block specific categories and allow access to the rest of the internet.

Next, set your desired schedule frequency.

Daily will enable the schedule every day during the specified time period.

Weekly will enable the schedule only on specific days of the week.

Monthly will enable the schedule only on specific months.

Next, click “Add Schedule”.

If you selected one of the custom block or allow list options, you can click the link provided under the “schedule type” column to set the websites or categories that you would like on the list.

And finally, click “Enable Scheduler” if it is not already enabled

That’s it for today. If you’re ready to start blocking websites you can get a free trial of BrowseControl at CurrentWare.com/Download. 

If you have any questions during your evaluation our support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

See you next time!

BrowseControl makes controlling internet access based on users, departments, and computers incredibly easy. Once you’ve installed the software all it takes is just a few clicks to set up user-based permissions. This tutorial will guide you through the general setup process and show you how to control internet access based on users with BrowseControl.

Setup File Contents:

  • CurrentWare Server and Console Setup File (CurrentWare.exe)
  • CurrentWare Client Setup File (cwClientSetup.exe)

Install the CurrentWare Console on the manager’s computer

Screenshot of the CurrentWare console installation screen
  1. Launch the CurrentWare Console setup file (CurrentWare.exe)
  2. Read and accept the End-User License Agreement (EULA)
  3. Select “CurrentWareConsole” and click “Next”
  4. Select BrowseControl and Category Filtering solutions
  5. The Installer will proceed to install the CurrentWare Server, Console and BrowseControl onto the manager’s computer. This process will take 3-5 minutes to complete.

Install the CurrentWare Clients on the computers you would like to control

  1. Take the CurrentWare Client setup file (cwClientSetup.exe) and launch it on the computers that you would like to block websites on.
  2. The installer will ask you for the name of the computer that the CurrentWare console is installed on from step 1. Advanced users can also use the IP address of their CurrentWare Server.
  3. After the CurrentWare Client installation is complete, it will connect to your CurrentWare Console (the manager’s computer from step 1) automatically.
  4. Repeat this process on all the computers you would like to control with the BrowseControl software.

Launch the CurrentWare Console on the managing computer

CurrentWare web console with the BrowseControl web filter page shown

Now you can start to control internet access based on users using BrowseControl. You can control internet access in one of three ways:

  • Block a small number of specific websites based on their URL
  • Block websites based on category
  • Block all websites except for pre-approved websites

How to block websites by URL

Screenshot of BrowseControl URL filter blocked websites list
  1. Select the user(s) that you would like to apply the policy to
  2. Set “Internet” to “On” if it is not already on
  3. Go to “URL Filter”
  4. Add the URL (www.NameOfWebsiteToBlock.com) of the specific website you would like to block for the chosen computer(s) and/or user(s)

How to block websites by category

Screenshot of category filtering window from BrowseControl web filter. Porn and social media categories blocked.

With BrowseControl’s category filtering feature you can easily block millions of websites across hundreds of predefined categories. In just a few clicks you can prevent users from accessing social media, pornography, and other undesirable categories of websites.

  1. Select the user(s) that you would like to apply the policy to
  2. Set “Internet” to “On” if it is not already on
  3. Go to “Category Filtering”
  4. Add the categories you would like to block (ex. “Social Media” to the Blocked Category List

How to only allow access to specific websites

BrowseControl URL whitelist with several websites allowed

If you would like to limit internet access to a pre-authorized list of websites, you can easily do that in BrowseControl. 

  1. Select the user(s) that you would like to apply the policy to
  2. Set “Internet” to “Off”
  3. Go to “URL Filter”
  4. Add the allowed websites to the Allowed List

Why do companies block websites?

Graphic of a skyline with a man holding the world between his hands.

Web content filtering is a critical tool for increasing cybersecurity, bolstering employee productivity, and ensuring that your workplace is safe from the impacts of inappropriate web surfing.

Increase employee productivity by blocking distractions

A man stares amazed at his laptop

A modest amount of cyberloafing might be fine, but unmanaged internet access will become a major time sink. Blocking distracting websites keeps actively disengaged employees from sneakily wasting time by playing computer games and browsing social media sites.

Even for the best employees websites like social media and news outlets are designed to keep us hooked and spending far more time than we may realize. By proactively blocking distracting websites you can keep employees focused on their tasks by removing the temptation to scroll just a little bit more.

Protect sensitive data from theft and hackers

Personal data phishing concept background. Cartoon illustration of personal data phishing vector

The internet is a valuable workplace tool, but it’s also a serious cybersecurity risk if employees are given complete access to it. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing websites, malware-infected domains, and unauthorized cloud storage accounts are all significant threats to sensitive corporate data. Web filters are a critical layer of defense for protecting networks against these high-risk websites.

Improve internet speeds by reducing excessive bandwidth usage

An Ethernet router with five RJ45 cables connected to it

Streaming a 4K Ultra HD Netflix video consumes 7GB of data per hour. Employees that use the company internet to stream videos waste valuable bandwidth and ruin the productivity of their coworkers by dramatically slowing down the speed of the internet.

Reduce opportunities for workplace harassment

A photo of a shocked woman

A web filter limits opportunities for employees to access NSFW content such as pornography, hateful, and violent websites. By blocking websites that contain this content you can reduce inappropriate web usage that would otherwise contribute to a hostile work environment.

Why is user-based internet access control important?

A group of employees in a meeting

The ability to apply unique internet restriction policies based on the user is important for ensuring that your web filtering configuration does not cause a productivity bottleneck.

When to use user-based web filtering policies:

In these types of scenarios a company-wide web filtering policy will either block too much or not enough. By controlling internet access based on users you can make web filtering policies that properly fit the context for the users you will be managing.

What sites should be blocked at work?

This section will touch on the most common websites to block employees from accessing in the workplace. For an expanded list of distracting websites that should be blocked at work, check out this blog post.

Social Media

Social media is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with family and friends or connecting with like minded communities. Unfortunately the addictive nature of these websites means they can easily become a major distraction. 

Shockingly, a survey from Pew Research found that a whopping 77 percent of employees admitted to using social media during work hours. Unless your employees are managing your company’s social media account, these platforms aren’t going to be needed for work.

Pornography and Adult

According to a 2013 Forbes article a survey by Nielsen found that 25 percent of working adults admit to looking at pornography on a computer at work. Inappropriate internet use leads to the creation of a hostile work environment. Your company can stay one step ahead by proactively blocking porn websites in your network using BrowseControl’s category filter.

Cloud Storage

Any employees that have access to sensitive data must not be allowed to access cloud storage sites that are not explicitly intended for use in the workplace. By adding the “File Hosting” category to your category filtering blacklist and whitelisting company-approved cloud storage sites you can prevent this common method of data theft.

Conclusion

Controlling internet access based on users is easy to do with BrowseControl. By applying user-specific policies you can ensure that your web filtering configuration increases employee productivity and data security without blocking websites that are legitimately necessary for specific users.

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is the Digital Marketing Manager for CurrentWare, a global provider of user activity monitoring, web filtering, and device control software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.