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How can I prevent my users from downloading via HTTP or FTP?

I have an Internet connection for a small network about 25 users. I need to prevent them from downloading over HTTP or FTP. All systems are Microsoft Windows XP. Please teach me how I can put this restriction on my network and what other software I might need to implement the structure.

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If you are running a proxy server, this can be achieved easily. Proxy servers or Internet security servers allow you to control the content and your users' browsing habits. Also, there are add-ons and agents available to achieve your goal, but they, too, are available only for proxy servers and Internet gateway software. If you can provide me with the details of your Internet connectivity and software/gateway, I might be in a better position to point you in a right direction.

Member feedback:
Thank you so much for your concern and support. The network consists of the following: 30 platforms (Windows XP) connected via 3com switches using D-Link DSL router. The bandwidth is ADSL 1024 Mbps downstream and 256 Mbps upstream. No servers are available, but I can get one if you give me the required specifications and software to do so.

Puneet's response:
I am not sure what your budget for this project is, but if you can, Microsoft's ISA server would be the best buy. This might sound like an expensive deal, but freeware or shareware proxy products will not provide you the level of security associated with Internet attacks. Here's a technical specification for the same. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of third-party agents are being written for the ISA, as it's one of the best in the market.

Also, there's a quick tweak that you can try (but this will only work if your users are not power users :-]). I know this is a time-consuming task , but if you know coding you can write a script that can do this for you in just minutes.

Assuming you are using Internet Explorer on machines. Do this:

  1. Go into "Internet options" then click on the "security" tab. Highlight "Internet" then click on "custom level."
  2. Scroll down the list to "Downloads" then change them to "disabled."
  3. Click OK and do the same (disable) for the "Local zone" on the security tab.
Hope this works.

This was first published in September 2005

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