November 16, 2018
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Up to Speed

Block websites and IP addresses to improve productivity

The Internet can be a wonderful tool for businesses looking to succeed in this 21st century market. Yet employers need to be mindful of what their employees are using the Web to do that is not related to work. Staff members who download full-length movies from torrent sites, constantly update their status on Facebook, or who stream music from sites like Pandora.com at work may significantly reduce their company’s network speed. And that’s not good for you or your business.

Many businesses consider YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and other media-streaming and social-networking sites accessed via web browsers like Firefox or Safari to be problem websites. The good news is that employers can successfully block these websites by also blocking the Internet Protocol (IP) ranges that these sites use. IP addresses are numeric labels that are assigned to computers, printers, and other devices participating in a computer network that uses the IP system to communicate. For example, Facebook uses an IP address range from 66.220.144.0 to 66.220.159.255. These IP addresses serve as a type of second-door to enter its website. By blocking a computer’s access to the second door (the range of IP addresses), businesses will be able to block Facebook.

Torrents, meanwhile, are special files — think music, or movies — that can be downloaded from the Internet. These torrents deliver songs and movies via special tunnels, or ports, that are specifically built to accept that type of information. By blocking the ports that accept torrents, companies are able to block torrents.

Meanwhile, companies also should consider having their employees sign Acceptable Computer Workstation and Internet Use policies that specifically describe what employees are allowed to access over the Internet. This will ensure that employees will be aware of their company’s rules.

Allen Van Hoosier is a senior Linux and Unix systems analyst for SS&C Technologies Inc. He may be reached at 812-266-2045, 812-459-9929, and gvanhoosier@sscinc.com.

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