How To Block Internet Explorer From Accessing The Internet


internet explorer 7 logo   How To Block Internet Explorer From Accessing The InternetAfter our home computer became infected for the umpteenth time with an Internet Explorer exploit, even after I admonished my kids to avoid using Internet Explorer at all costs, I decided it was time to take drastic action. There are a lot of reasons why you may want to configure a computer so that it has blocked Windows Internet Explorer. Tim wrote about an effective method a while back on how to do just that, however the approach he uses still allows any user to launch the application from the run command and access the Internet.

What if you simply want to block all of Windows Internet access from Internet Explorer, but you still want to allow any other browser or Internet application to work?


It is possible to cast Internet Explorer into isolation while all other Internet apps run free, and I’ll show you how to do it in just a couple of easy steps.

Modify Internet Explorer To Use A Proxy Server

The first step in this two step process is to trick Internet Explorer into accessing the Internet using a dummy proxy server. By default your LAN settings in IE are usually set up to automatically detect your Internet connection settings. We’re going to change that.

First, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings.

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First, uncheck “Automatically detect settings” and select the option to use a proxy server.  Set the address to some dummy IP followed by port 80. It doesn’t matter what you use, just make sure it isn’t a real server.

Or, another option I’ve seen some school network administrators do is to configure a proxy server that’s set up to serve an internal webpage that says something along the lines of “You’ve reached the end of the Internet.” The students may not laugh – but at least you’ll get a chuckle!

Click OK, go back to IE and try to browse the web. You’ll see the following error.

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Nice! Mission accomplished right? Wrong! All a clever little eight-year old girl needs to do is open up the Internet Options, click on “Automatically detect settings” and she’s back in business. Don’t think an eight-year old could do that? Well she did. So the next step is to disable every user’s ability to tweak the IE Internet options settings.

Disable Internet Options In The Control Panel

To do this, click Start -> Run and type “Regedit.exe“.

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Go to My Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Restrictions. You may have to create the Internet Explorer and Restrictions keys if they aren’t already there. Then, create a new DWORD called “NoBrowserOptions” and set it equal to 1. Now, restart Internet Explorer.

You still won’t be able to browse anywhere, because it’s defaulting to the proxy server. So, go ahead and try to access Tools -> Internet Options. Your little ones will be faced with the following warning.

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This effectively blocks most normal users from accessing the Internet through IE. An especially clever user will just go to the Control Panel and enable the Internet Options that way, so you’ll also need to disable those control panel settings in the registry as well.

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Go to My Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Control Panel (or create the key if you have to). I’ve added several policy restrictions to the control panel, but the important one here is the DWORD ConnectionsTab. Setting this to 1 will disable the Connections tab in the control panel, so the user can’t change the Internet settings from the proxy you set up.

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You’ve completely blocked IE from accessing the Internet, and the only thing that a clever user could do to fix it is to find the right registry keys and fix them. So, this won’t block a seasoned geek, but it’ll at least keep your kids from opening up the wrong browser! Be warned that there are some Internet applications that make use of the connection settings in your Internet Options. Most applications allow you to configure proxy settings from within the app itself, but not all – so if any of your Internet apps don’t work after you lock down IE, this is probably why.

Have you ever had the need to block IE from accessing the Internet? Does this technique work for your application? Share your own experiences and how you have blocked your own Windows Internet Explorer access to the Internet.

Image Credit: Florin Florea

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23 Comments -

cookieman

How about just uninstalling it?
Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> Turn Windows Features on or off -> Uncheck Internet Explorer

Mrcloseencounters

You have to have IE if for no other reason than to install updates/patches/fixes. (You choose the term)

MC

Matthew S

I turned it off in win 7 and I can still update/patch/fix. I have auto update off and use MSE Update Utility to keep MSE up to date.

cookieman

How about just uninstalling it?
Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> Turn Windows Features on or off -> Uncheck Internet Explorer

Mrcloseencounters

You have to have IE if for no other reason than to install updates/patches/fixes. (You choose the term)

MC

Ryan Dube

Yes – I read some horror stories on a few forums where someone tried to do an uninstall, I guess it didn’t turn out too well…lol.

Anonymous

Some 3rd party programs also use IE’s internet settings, so pointing IE to a dummy proxy server may cause those 3rd party programs to stop using the internet as well.

bmcgonag

I work in computer repair, and I try so hard to get people to quit using IE, but they just resist and refuse. I don’t understand it. Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Chrome are all better browsers.

I wish I could just go in and disable IE on their machines too, but I’d lose business, adn I guess when you think about it, them using IE probably triples my business.

bmcgonag

I work in computer repair, and I try so hard to get people to quit using IE, but they just resist and refuse. I don’t understand it. Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Chrome are all better browsers.

I wish I could just go in and disable IE on their machines too, but I’d lose business, adn I guess when you think about it, them using IE probably triples my business.

banzai

Am I the only one who has never, NEVER in 10 years of IE use suffered any kind of exploit directly attributible to IE? I prefer IE to any other choice in the list. Microsoft has been slow on web standards, I’ll admit, but I find IE to be a smoother, more solid browsing experience than Firefox and better on personal security than Chrome (see: “What Google Knows About You”). That’s just my opinion.

irha

Assuming the kids are just habitual in using IE, if you change the default browser and all shortcuts to point to an alternative browser, won’t it cover most cases? You could even keep the name and the icon of the shortcuts the same as for IE, but they would instead open the alternative browser. If the kid is determined, he would find a way anyway.

@Mrcloseencounters, there might be a way to uninstall IE, but not its COM components so that the windows update will not fail.

Anonymous

Assuming the kids are just habitual in using IE, if you change the default browser and all shortcuts to point to an alternative browser, won’t it cover most cases? You could even keep the name and the icon of the shortcuts the same as for IE, but they would instead open the alternative browser. If the kid is determined, he would find a way anyway.

@Mrcloseencounters, there might be a way to uninstall IE, but not its COM components so that the windows update will not fail.

Kevin Ke

Ya, you can completely remove IE, but the best way for you to do is modify your Windows Installation disk. (nLite, vLite and 7Lite got this options).

@rdube: horror? Unless most of your softwares are IE-based. I tried xp, vista and 7 with IE uninstalled, used them without any probs. If updating via web is a habit, I suggest using WUD.

For me, I will think twice before using softwares that statically based on IE – if that’s not a must.

Nat Jay

I stopped using IE in 2006. What works best for me is to simply block IE from accessing the internet through my firewall (simple firewall settings is all it took). Been using Firefox and Chrome for all online access.

BTW many of the problems with IE also seem related to people using older versions of that browser — like IE6 and IE7.

Nat Jay

I stopped using IE in 2006. What works best for me is to simply block IE from accessing the internet through my firewall (simple firewall settings is all it took). Been using Firefox and Chrome for all online access.

BTW many of the problems with IE also seem related to people using older versions of that browser — like IE6 and IE7.

qpease

When we used to use Windows XP at school I did this to prevent those few extra viruses that get downloaded somehow to school computers. Now we use Ubuntu and have not a worry about any of the multitude of problems associated with IE and Windows. I never really liked IE and can’t see how so many people are stuck in a rut with this cumbersome web browser.

qpease

Also wanted to mention the headache that IE causes in the design of webpages using strictly html. My daughter designed several webpages for a few organizations this year. The looked beautiful and many people commented how great they were, but the the people using IE called, email, etc. complaining how how everything was garbled. The website had to be tweaked a bit and still not everything was perfectly viewed on IE. We placed a header that read: ” This website is view best in any browser other than Internet Explorer”. We got a few very happy converts out of this. For me, IE is nothing but a headache. I tried IE8 and still feel it is nothing in comparison to Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.

Rachelle

I got a horrible virus, which prevented my machine from accessing windows updates and corrupted Windows. Microsoft techs spent 20+ hours trying to find and disable the worm, but ultimately OS is toast. I don’t think Windows updates can be installed from other browsers, so please be careful about blocking access. These updates are critical.

Kevin Ke

Ya, you can completely remove IE, but the best way for you to do is modify your Windows Installation disk. (nLite, vLite and 7Lite got this options).

@rdube: horror? Unless most of your softwares are IE-based. I tried xp, vista and 7 with IE uninstalled, used them without any probs. If updating via web is a habit, I suggest using WUD.

For me, I will think twice before using softwares that statically based on IE – if that’s not a must.

GA

Get a firewall! :)

Rabblerawr

I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or what, but on my computer Chrome and IE use the same Internet LAN settings, so if I disable IE from accessing the internet, it stops Chrome as well. Can somebody help me out with this?

darrell thomas

this dont work as it disables all connects with other web browsers aswell please help

GIVNBYGRACE

Caution! Some LAN configurations will not work if you attempt to point IE to a fake proxy server. I believe the best safety strategy when using a Windows-based computer is to keep the IE browser fully updated with strong security settings in place and only use it to perform Microsoft-related updates. Core components of the IE browser package are utilized by non-Microsoft vendors. IE8 is much improved over previous versions and in most cases will not cause problems by simply being on your computer.