How To Block Internet Explorer From Accessing The Internet

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blocked windows internet explorerAfter 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.

blocked windows internet explorer

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.

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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.

block internet access

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“.

block internet access

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.

block internet access

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.

internet explorer has blocked

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.

blocked windows internet explorer

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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Comments (30)
  • Baz

    I followed similar to this article, but used GPEDIT.MSC to remove the “Connections” tab.
    You can exclude Windows Update from the block by adding the following exceptions to the proxy settings:
    http://*.update.microsoft.com;
    https://*.update.microsoft.com;
    http://download.windowsupdate.com
    However the whole thing was negated when the user simply “reset” Internet Explorer settings from the “Advanced” tab (LOL).

  • Terrapin J

    is there a way to script a site to not allow anyone using IE access to it?

    in other words. i run a site i’d rather not allow internet explorer users to be able to gain access to since it is the insecurest browser on gods green earth webwise, so i want to restrict it at the httpdocs root. it is invision boards php driven.

    anyone? anyone?

    thanks

  • Thomas

    But very intriguing artile and I will try still try this!

  • Thomas

    Hi, you cannot get rid of Internet Explorer even if you try. Its a important component of windows that is deep and integral. Other program use Internet Exploror’s HTML code and ext to make it work. So it just best to keep it and update it.

    • Terrapin J

      actually you can. filexile and turning off safety features for such and deleting both IE roots. it leaves only the sqmapi.dll and pdmproxy100.dll files in 64 bit folder version intact after you purge them.

  • 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.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.