With data security as a growing risk, many businesses are taking strict measures to protect their information. Some even go so far as restricting the websites that can be viewed from the company network. However, this isn’t only done for security purposes but other reasons as well. Despite these restrictions, many employees still look for ways to bypass these restrictions and access certain websites like Facebook, Instagram and others. How are employees able to do this?
In this article, we’ll look at why businesses restrict website access and the measures they use. We’ll also look at some creative ways that employees bypass these restrictions, such as using encryption, VPNs or proxy services. Wondering what is a proxy and how it’s used to overcome restrictions? We’ll be covering that and more.
In this article on website restrictions, we’ll be looking at the following topics:
- Why do companies block certain websites?
- How do companies block websites?
- Techniques employees use to gain access to blocked sites
Why Do Companies Block Certain Websites?
One of the main reasons businesses block websites is to limit the security risks of certain websites. Unfortunately, there are many websites that contain malicious cookies and software that can infect a network once accessed. Not only that, but cybercriminals also use ads to spread malware. These ads appear on different websites and look intriguing, but once a user clicks on them, it infects the device and network with malware.
Another reason is that many apps and online platforms gain access to your network, files and media. Employees could inadvertently share sensitive company data with these third-party platforms by accessing these sites through a company network.
Here are the main reasons why companies limited internet access:
- Security risk by accessing malicious websites or ads
- Productivity is negatively affected
- To enforce data security and privacy measures
- To remain CIPA compliant (for schools and libraries)
- Maintain workplace decency by restricting access to adult, racial or other inappropriate content
How Do Companies Block Websites?
Companies can use a few different techniques to restrict access to certain websites. The most basic is to state websites that are off-limit and monitor employees’ internet usage manually, and if they access the banned sites, disciplinary action can be taken. This is not an ideal way to block websites and would be impossible in large corporations.
Another method used frequently is blocking certain keywords, such as ‘XXX’, ‘Amazon’ or ‘Facebook’, directly from the router. Employers can also use bandwidth monitoring software to see who’s using too much (more than is needed for work) and issues warnings to cut back. Businesses can also work with their ISPs to set up a blacklist of blocked sites. The only issue with this is that there are millions of websites and more appearing every day, so maintaining this list will become an ongoing project for IT departments.
Techniques Employees May Use To Gain Access To Blocked Sites
Now that we understand why these restrictions exist let’s look at a few ways that employees may try to gain access to restricted websites.
Using A Proxy Or VPN
Using a proxy service or VPN is a p[opular choice for those who wish to remain anonymous online and add extra security when browsing the internet. However, these tools can also be used to gain access to restricted sites as they act as an intermediary between the user and the internet. All search requests go through the proxy first. As such, the ISP or IT department won’t be able to monitor which websites are accessed. Free proxy services and VPNs are available, but they often pose a greater security risk and should be avoided.
Hiding Behind Encryption
Some employees might try to access the internet by hiding behind encryption. When typing in a domain name that’s blocked, adding ‘https’ will give you a stripped-down version of the website. This is one encryption technique that can disguise your browsing from the network. Other methods include SSH and encrypted SOCKS.
Using The IP Address
Using the IP address instead of the website name will bypass any restrictions. This is especially the case where companies only ban certain keywords. When using the IP, you’re not typing any keywords that could be picked up and restricted. There are even websites available that will provide the IP addresses of many others just for this purpose.
While it may not always be fun, companies must restrict access to certain websites to maintain the security of their data, devices and even employees. This is also important to promote a healthy and productive work environment without distractions. However, some employees may try to overcome these restrictions by using VPNs, proxy services and other techniques. It’s important to note this can lead to immediate employment termination if it’s against company policy.
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