WFilter internet content filter software can monitor internet activities of network clients. However, the deployment requires you to setup port mirroring in your switch to mirror all internet packets to WFilter for monitoring. Below is a typical network diagram of WFilter deployment:
In many soho networks, there is no manageable switch for port mirroring. In this guide, I will demonstrate a light solution to setup port mirroring directly in your WiFi router. First, you need to get an openwrt/lede WiFi router(or you can reflash your router with openwrt/lede firmware)
Let’s check the network topology first:
The main router is a WiFi router(192.168.1.1) running openwrt system. A PC with WFilter installed is connected to this WiFi router using a cable, with IP address 192.168.1.2. Other network clients are all wireless. Packet port-mirroring is also installed in this openwrt system.
You need to enable port-mirroring service in openwrt to mirror network packets to the WFilter pc, syntax:
1) target: the target pc ip address, or interface
2) source_ports: wlan0(the wireless adapter)
Then you shall be able to monitor all clients internet activities in WFilter UI. Screenshots:
You also can setup internet filtering policies to block websites or applications.
To save internet bandwidth and raise productivity, administrators need to know bandwidth usage and internet activities in business networks. There are network firewall appliances with this ability, while in this post, I will introduce several software monitoring solutions.
1. Passby monitoring on a mirroring port.
“Port mirror” is a feature of manageable switches or routers. With “port mirroring”, you can get a copy of packets from other ports. So you can setup a software program in the target port pc to monitor all network traffic. This is called as “passby monitoring”. The network diagram:
With WFilter internet content filter installed, you will be able to monitor bandwidth, internet activities and deploy internet access policies. Screenshots:
2. SNMP-based monitoring
Comparing to “port mirroring”, SNMP-based monitoring is easier to setup with less features. However, it’s also very convenient to monitor bandwidth with SNMP. Below are screenshots from PRTG.
3. Linux network bridge
Network bridge is more powerful, with the ability to monitor traffic, allocate bandwidth, filter internet activities… A network bridge shall be deployed between your router/firewall and switch.
To setup a network bridge, you need a pc with two network cards(wired adapters only). I would recommend you to use WFilter NG firewall as the operation system. It’s a dedicated linux distribution for internet content filtering and firewall. Below are screenshots from WFilter NGF:
You may have an old desktop PC sitting in a closet or somewhere. Did you know that you still can make it useful? In this guide, I will demonstrate the steps to turn your old pc into a network firewall appliance.
1. First, please check what you need to prepare.
1.1) an old desktop pc.
1.2) a gigabit ethernet adapter.
1.3) a usb stick.
2. Mount the ethernet adapter and connect the cables.
There is only one onboard ethernet adapter, so I need to add another PCI adapter.
The green chip on left is the new added ethernet adapter.
Now let’s connect the cables.
3. Install WFilter NGF system.
Now you can install WFilter NGF with your usb stick. Please check a more detailed guide at here: WFilter NG Firewall Installation Guide
You shall be able to the console upon successful installation.
Set your laptop to “dynamic ip address” and open http://192.168.10.1 in browser, you can access webUI to set the system up.
4. See what I get.
The CPU is “Intel Pentium Dual CPU E2160 1.8G”, 2GB DDR2 RAM, 160G harddisk.
Let’s check the performance. Wow, it can handle 200+ clients with 20K concurrent connections. Isn’t it amazing?
For more features of WFilter NGF, please check: WFilter NG firewall
As a network professional, when things go wrong in your network, the right tools are required to minimize network downtime.
In this post, I will reveal you the extension system in WFilter, a powerful tool sets for networking issues.
At a first galance
All WFilter systems have an “extension” library, which contains a powerful free tool sets for IT administrators. Most extensions are free. Even supported in WFilter free, a freeware for network internet filtering and monitoring.
Now let’s see what we can do with WFilter extensions:
1. Scan client devices in network
With “network scan” extension, you can get a complete list of network clients, including IP, MAC, manufactor and open ports…
2. Discover and scan DHCP services in network
The “Network DHCP discover plugin” of WFilter can scan DHCP services in your network by a single click. It will list all dhcp servers ip addresses, MAC addresses and MAC manufactures.
3. Detect NAT sharing services in network
Detect illegal NAT sharing in network.
4. Check network health of availability, IP conflict, ARP spoof and broadcast storm
This extension can:
- check availability and ping performance of dns servers.
- check availability and ping performance of internet sites.
- check availability and ping performance of local network hosts.
- check whether there is ip conflict in local network.
- check whether there is arp spoof running in local network.
- check whether there is broadcast storm in local network.
5. Scan proxy servers in network
6. Graph ping performance of multiple hosts
With this plugin, you can get ping performance and graph reports for multiple hosts in a period of time.
A complete extesions list can be found at here: WFilter extensions. And more will come. The most important thing is that most extension are free, supported in “WFilter internet content filter(commercial)”, “WFilter NG firewall” and “WFilter Free”.
Isn’t it exicting? Download WFilter Now!
You don’t need to buy a expensive firewall or UTM appliance to do internet content filtering and usage monitoring.
In this post, I will guide you to deploy a passby internet content filter simply with a cisco switch.
First, suppose you have a cisco switch with below network diagram.
Most cisco switch supports “port mirroring(SPAN)” feature. You may use below commands to enable it:
1. Set source port
Switch(config)#monitor session 1 source interface Fa0/23
2. Set target port
Switch(config)#monitor session 1 destination interface Fa0/22 ingress vlan 1
Then, you need to install a passby filtering program(ie: WFilter internet content filter) in a windows PC, and connect this PC to the “target port”. So you can monitor and filter internet access of network clients. Please note: “ingress” must be enabled for filtering to work.
The new diagram:
Pass-by filtering can also be as powerful as a pass-through UTM device, except for bandwidth rate limiting. For more information, please check: WFilter deployment.
IP and MAC address binding is usually configured in network switch or router(gateway). An effective IP-MAC binding solution needs to:
1. Be able to integrate with the DHCP server to assign static IPs to clients.
2. Have option to block or allow internet for un-bound devices.
3. Be able to do IP-MAC binding in multi-subnet networks.
In this post, I will demonstrate the “IP-MAC binding” feature in WFilter NG firewall. For IP-MAC binding in “WFilter internet content filter”, please check: “WFilter IP-MAC binding solution“.
1. IP-MAC Binding List
You can define the IP-MAC binding list in “Modules”->”Access Policy”->”IP-MAC Binding”. When listed, these devices will always be assigned with static IP addresses when using dynamic IP address.
Below options are available in the “IP-MAC binding” module:
1. For unlisted IP addresses, you can choose “Allow all”, “Block all” or “Block below IP ranges”.
2. For unlisted MAC addresses(devices), you can configure whether to assign IP address or not.
3. Multi-subnet IP-MAC binding solution
Your network is multi-subnet? No worry. With “MAC address detector”, WFilter NGF is able to retrieve MAC addresses from your core switch. So you can bind IP address with MAC address, even in a multi-subnet network.
A guide of “IP-MAC binding” in WFilter NGF can be found at: IP-MAC binding.
WSG(WFilter Security Gateway) appliance has two series of models: professional and enterprise. For example, WSG-100P means WSG professional for 100 users; while WSG-100E means WSG enterprise for 100 users.
WSG enterprise has full the features of WFilter NG firewall. Compare to WFilter enterprise, WSG professional is lack of some enterprise-level features: “Internet Usage”, “AD Integration”, “ISP”, and “Hot Standby”.
Since WSG professional does not record internet usage which requires a lot disk space, WSG professional appliance only have a small harddisk(8GB) for reports only. And the RAM is also less.
WSG professional and WSG enterprise have the same box appearance.
WSG professional has no “Internet Usage”, “AD Integration”, “ISP Management”, and “Hot Standby”. Other features are all the same. Please check the screenshots.
So in case you don’t need usage recording and other enterprise-level features, you can choose WSG professional, which is much more cost-effective.
There are dozens of open source firewall systems to download. Some are complete free, some provides limited free features. Does “free” sound attractive? but they have dis-advantages. In this post, I would like to discuss the comparsion of WFilter NGF with open source firewall systems.
Disadvantages of open source firewalls
- Limited features. Most open source firewalls does not have other enterprise-level features, such as “ usage recording/reports” , “domain integration”…
- Lack of support. Most systems only have forum support, unless paid.
- Slow response. Bugs may need months to be fixed.
WFilter NGF is designed for business networks, with a lot enterprise-level features. In case you want a free solution, open source firewalls can help. However, if you need more features and better support, you’d better choose some commerical products. Below is a list of WFilter NGF advantages comparing to open source firewalls:
- Designed for business networks.
- Enterprise-level features: usage recording, powerful report system, AD integration…
- 7 * 24 dedicated support via email/phone/skype/teamviewer.
- Faster response. Improvements and bugs will be fixed ASAP.
Internet filtering appliances(UTM) are very popular in business networks. In this article, I would discuss the difference of WFilter NGF with internet filtering appliances.
Comparing to WFilter NGF, appliances are easier to be deployed. You don’t need to install the system by yourself.
Advantages of appliances
- Easier to be deployed.
- No hardware compatiablity issue.
Disadvantages of appliances
- Most appliances can only work for 2-3 years.
- Bad expansion. In case you have more network clients, you need to buy new appliances.
- Very expensive. Even upgrade is not free.
Despite of the above disadvantages, Internet filtering appliances are ideal for business network security. With WFilter NGF, you need to test hardware and install the system by yourself. However, it also has below advantages:
- You can DIY your own appliance.
- License is upgradable and movable.
- Free upgrade for lifetime.
- Most cost-effective.
So if you like WFilter NGF features, or prefer a more cost-effective solution, please choose “WFilter NG firewall”.
Proxy-based internet filtering solution requires you to setup a proxy server, either transparent or non-transparent, then you can setup policies to filter web access. There are a lot open source or free products. This solution has below advantages and disadvantages.
- Free or open source.
- Can filter websites.
- Most are linux-based. You need a linux pc to setup the proxy.
- No support.
- Less features. Only for domain filtering.
- Add network latency.
Proxy-based internet filtering solution is similar to the “website black list” in your router/firewall. If you only need to block some sites, it’s an option.
With WFilter ICF, you will get:
- Enterprise-level internet monitoring and filtering features.
- Dedicated support.
- No influence to network performance.
- Easier to be deployed.