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

The BrowseControl Logo, web filter

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.

Note: For companies installing BrowseControl on more than 300 computers, we recommend installing the CurrentWare Client setup file on a server and using SQL Server Professional as the database. To see Remote Deployment Options for BrowseControl, visit our quick-start installation page.

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

A screenshot of the CurrentWare console

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

CurrentWare URL filter console open with sports and social media websites added to the blocked 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

CurrentWare category filter console open with a list of blocked website categories

With BrowseControl’s category filtering add-on 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

CurrentWare URL filter console open with company websites added to the allowed list.

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

Screenshot of report for an employee's productivity based on websites visited

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?

A woman browsing the internet

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 a Marketing Coordinator for CurrentWare, a global provider of endpoint security and employee monitoring 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.