FlashStart url filtering: deep in customization

URL filtering products are essential to help any user and in all kinds of environments

1. FlashStart: a productivity website blocker tailored to your needs

Url filtering products are key at helping workers, students and householders make an effective use of the internet. This post explains how the FlashStart site filter feature works, the way in which it can be set up to satisfy the users’ needs and how it will help them boost their productivity. 

2. FlashStart site protection: when personal discipline is not enough

Information is key and the internet has got plenty of it. The possibility to access it quickly and at virtually no cost comes in hand in both private life and at work. The flip side of this is that managing the huge and continuously growing amount of facts, figures and information available on the internet can prove difficult.

Falling prey to distractions is very easy, especially if the project we are working on requires us to look for information online. But even if this is not the case, when a notification appears on the top of the screen, we may be tempted to take a closer look at it and end up wasting more time than expected.  

The FlashStart internet content blocker feature allows internet users and network providers to protect these behaviours. It is a cloud application to block websites that are generally recognised as having distracting content such as social networks, websites that distribute audio and video contents and the related apps. Additionally, thanks to the web url filtering, it can be tailored to block access to specific websites depending on the users’ characteristics. 

The content blocker is also capable of scheduling blocking in specific time windows, allowing some categories to be surfed, for example, after normal business hours.

>> Contact us to find out more about the services offered: our support staff is available 24/7 and will answer your questions in Italian, English and Spanish 

3. The FlashStart domain filter system

The FlashStart site filter suggests a wide range of distracting websites to block through three main pre-available blacklists: 

» Ads, Spam & Web Stats, which includes advertising websites, well-known spammer’s domains and web tracking networks.
» Social Networks, which lists all the main social networks as well as the domains used by Whatsapp for calls and messages
» Free Time, which permits to filter out a wide range of websites whose aim is to direct and organise users’ free time, often blocked by companies and schools’ network admins to reduce time wasting at work.

Thanks to this tool, network administrators can deploy the website blocker they need to block outright all of the above-mentioned websites, thus improving the focus of the network users. And if these are not enough or if, on the contrary, they are perceived as too restrictive, the tool can be tailored to the specific needs and wants of the network administrators. 

>> Start your free trial now and set up the internet content blocker that will boost your efficiency

4. Custom lists: the key to web url filtering 

Sometimes, the internet network provider, be it an employer, educational institution or householder, may want to extend or tune the basic categories of web content filters in order to block access to specific online contents based on his specific needs. Some other times, providers may wish to permit access to particular domains that are generally considered distracting. 

To reach this goal FlashStart allows NETWORK administrators to add domains and subdomains within the of blacklists or whitelists, respectively to limit or allow access. This feature is called “Url filtering“.

4.1 Personal blacklists

Personal blacklists help network administrators satisfy two main necessities: the need to block unwanted content and that of blocking it only for specific users. 

4.2 General personal blacklists 

The blacklists that are built-in into FlashStart do a great job at blocking access to distracting content. There may however be further, specific websites whose access the admin wishes to limit in order to enhance even more the effectiveness of the productivity website blocker

For example, if a network admin of a company in the manufacturing sector knew the habits of his employees and wanted to avoid distractions in the team, he could:

» Make a list of the websites he deems distracting, e.g. amazon.com, pittapillilonline.com, etc.
In the tab “Protection”, enter the domains of the personal list in the field “Search in list” to check if these domains are already included in the FlashStart list: in our example he would find out that amazon.com is already part of the category “Ads, Spam & Web Stats”

» Open the “Personal Blacklist” section of the FlashStart tool protection setting and input manually the domain filter you wish to add. 

When you add a domain which hasn’t been categorized yet by the tool, the interface will ask you if you want to signal what sort of domain it is: 

Also, the system may find some connected websites and, through a pop-up message, suggest that you block them as well to further lower the chances that your employees will access any websites related to those you want to block. User’s reviews are immediately forwarded to our human blacklist specialists for the quality check process. Every contribute provided by a FlashStart’s user is shared between our Community, obviously after the check.

>> Start your free trial now and set up the internet content blocker that will boost your efficiency

4.3 Profile-specific personal blacklists 

Wifi networks are usually shared by more than one user. Therefore, there could be cases where the network admin wants to restrict access to certain websites but only for specific groups of users. The FlashStart internet content blocker tool allows internet network providers to do exactly this. 

For example, a householder can decide to allow access to the websites in the lists mentioned above and then limit it for specific users’ profiles, like children, with a few and simple steps:

» Open the section “Personal Blacklists”
Add the domain filter manually by typing the url of the website you wish to block
Specify the user profile type it should be applied to. 

Network admins and MSPs can easily proceed to a bulk white/black insertion to multiple profiles.

>> Find out more about personalised lists here and tailor the url filtering tool specifically to your needs

4.4 Personal whitelists

Another typical case of the “Url filtering” area: the FlashStart artificial intelligence blocks some websites because they are considered distracting or inappropriate while the network administrator wants to unblock them. The exclusion of such sites can be configured by the network administrator thanks to the “personal whitelist” panel, so that the “productivity website blocker” engine allows users to visit the website normally.

For example, the admin could block the entire category “Ads, Spam & Web Stats” to boost productivity in the workplace. If however the company has an Amazon profile and uses it to purchase products needed in the company, the website blocker can be instructed to grant access to this specific e-commerce platform. To do this:

» Open the section “Personal Whitelists”
Type the Amazon url into the site filter space
» Specify to which profile type this whitelist should be applied.   

Check out our video instructions: this is part of the webinar “Content and malware Filter for ISP/WISP” and shows in a practical way how to personalise the FlashStart url filtering product. 

Network admins, migrating to FlashStart from other filtering platforms (dnsfilter.com, Cisco Umbrella, SafeDNS, Webroot, etc.), can easily export their custom blacklists and whitelists in a TXT file and import into the FlashStart’s dashboard.

>> Activate a free trial to try how to add or remove blacklists and personal whitelists from the website blocker

5. Why can we not afford to avoid implementing site protection?

The reason why these url filtering products are becoming more and more important is linked to the increasing use that individuals of all ages and occupations make of devices connected to the internet. 

According to the Business Insider, American teenagers are four times more likely to access video content online rather than on tv. Therefore, an internet content blocker is a key tool for reaching multiple targets: 

» avoiding exposing them to inappropriate or unwanted content
» helping them make a more efficient and profitable use of their time
» blocking dangerous contents.  

With reference to this last point, it should be noted that with the increase in internet usage due to the global pandemic, online frauds and internet dangers have increased exponentially, to the point that they have the power to disturb and create outages to remote working and homeschooling. That is why every organization should rethink the protection of its users, considering the remote ones as part of their network. Thanks to FlashStart’s unified protection management, network admins and MSPs can easily synchronize protection policy’s rollouts to both on site and off site devices.

With FlashStart Pro Plus version, enterprise admins can also benefit of a native MS-Active Directory integration and implement granular filtering based on AD users and groups. In this scenario, the site protection will grant an impressive level of customization for different kinds of users, following company’s user authentication through Active Directory. Moreover, FlashStart Pro Plus adds a local on-premise DNS cache to guarantee a zero-latency response time to queries.

Web url filtering is a cloud application to block websites representing a valuable and up-to-date tool to implement site protection and to ensure your employees, students and housemates navigate safely and are not distracted by inappropriate content. Start your free trial now and navigate fearlessly towards the future.

You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.

Reading time 3 min
Laura BartoliniHead of marketing
As chief marketing executive, my mission is to create impactful activities and campaigns that resonate with our audience, stimulating engagement and promoting brand loyalty.

View all posts by Laura Bartolini

As chief marketing executive, my mission is to create impactful activities and campaigns that resonate with our audience, stimulating engagement and promoting brand loyalty.
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