Networking/Computing Tips/Tricks

Aside from the challenges of blocking offensive content (see the separate article on that subject), you may desire to simply block access to certain sites.  A common question I am asked is how can I block my kids from using Facebook and other similar social networking sites when they are supposed to be doing homework?  Well, aside from the deep discussion we have on Parenting the Internet, here is a quick way you can use your home or small business router to block certain sites, or even block on key words.  We use the Linksys router platform as our example.

Step 1: Log in to your router web interface.  Usually this is done by opening a browser and typing in the URL.  You should be prompted for the username and password.  Make sure you keep this login info private so others cannot undo the steps below.  You should be at the main screen:


Step 2: Now click on the Access Restrictions Tab.



You will get the following screen:


Step 3: Now click on the Internet Access option:


You will be presented with the following screen:



Step 4: Now this screen has several options:

  • You can limit access to the network by time.
  • You can limit access to the network of certain computers on the network.
  • You can block certain services (such as web browsing or email or telnet)
  • You can block access to certain URL addresses (ah-ha the thing we want)
  • You can can block certain phrases/words
  • Finally you can combine some of these rules, but you have to be careful when combining.

I encourage some experimentation with these powerful capabilities.  However, let's say we want to block Facebook usage for a particular PC.

First, we must select the policy number (note that you sually have a limit of the number of policies, but since this is our first we will select 1().



Step 5: Let's configure the rest of the Policy.  First, select the ENABLE radial button, and let's give the policy a name "Facebook".  Like this:



Step 6: We can edit a list of the PC's we want to effect next.  Click the Edit List of PC's button and you will get a pop-up with the following:


If you know the particular IP address or MAC address of the PC in question, configure them here.  Alternatively, you can enter a range of addresses.  Keep in mind that if IP addresses are assigned dynamically, selecting a particular IP address may not work 100% of the time.  MAC addresses, on the other hand, are usually more reliable, though I should warn that a quick search on "modify my MAC address" reveals ways around that as well. 

Click the Save Settings button.


Step 7:  Once you save which PC's you wish to affect with your policy, it is time to configure the web site URL we want blocked.  Enter "" in one of the fields as shown:


Step 8: Click on Save Settings, and you are done!  Access to all web sites EXCEPT Facebook has been accomplished.


A couple of important notes:

  • You can use wildcards in the URL entries such as *.facebook.* to cover URL fluctuations and variances.
  • Using keywords can be problamatic at times.  For instance, adding the keyword "face" or "book" could block content you do want to see.  Experiment with this.
  • You can always disable an access control restriction and then re-enable it later.

We hope this helps!



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