It is common for governments and corporations to block internet access in order to prevent users from accessing illegal content. As a growing trend, there are numerous reasons why such entities choose to hinder access especially when it comes to content like online gambling or betting, national security, child protection, etc.

The Reasons Behind Blocking Internet Access

The following three are the most common reasons why your internet access may be blocked:

  • Security Threats – Access to certain websites can be blocked in response and in the prevention of security threats. This can be done by network operators, application providers, enterprises as well as end-users if certain communications are perceived as network attacks or security threats.
  • Business Requirements – some businesses design their networks to grant access to only certain services and related content. Hence, the rest of the content may be blocked. Also, some businesses may only give users limited network access until the payment of internet services.
  • Objectionable Content – Finally, if communications are seen as undesirable or harmful, the access to them will be blocked by the respective users, enterprises, or governments. These can include hate speeches, defamation, intellectual property infringement, obscenity, etc. While such content access blocking is usually done by governments, enterprises may also restrict access to content that is not suitable for the corporate environment. Also, parents may block certain content that they feel is not suitable for their children to access.

These are certain deliberate reasons behind blocking internet access. However, users may experience blocked internet access due to the following issues as well:

  • Overloading of Router – A router is a crucial network component that receives and directs packets into the right user device. Certain programs may take advantage of file transfer protocols that may cause numerous connections to open up at once. This can flood the router causing it to crash and reboot thereby, blocking your internet access.
  • Upstream Flooding – Upstream bandwidth overload or upstream flooding is a common problem that can affect internet connectivity. Whenever a packet data flows to your computer from the network, it must be acknowledged by your system. This allows the server to know that the packet has arrived as intended and the server can send across the next packet. While this is ok in case of a small number of data packets, but in the case of a large amount of data, there is a possibility that the internet connection may shut down as there isn’t enough upstream bandwidth to cater to the data volume.
  • Service Provider Issues – Occasional hardware failures, service upgrades, misconfigurations, etc. can occur even if your internet services provider seeks to provide 100% connection uptime. In such cases, it may not always be easy to identify the apparent cause which led to your internet getting blocked. However, it is important to report the outage to your network service provider at the earliest so that the problem can be rectified.
  • Misconfiguration – Misconfiguration in the router can also make your internet access seem blocked. Individual IP addresses are assigned to all the devices on the network while a network is getting established. While most networks today assign these IP addresses automatically, some may require the administrator to perform this task. Therefore, you may end up with a situation in which 2 computers may end up with the same IP address leading to network disruption and instability. This can result in blocked internet access.

Other causes resulting in blocked internet access include:

  • Virus or malware entering your PC can change your browser and network settings leaving you with an error message and no internet access.
  • Another popular reason leading to blocked internet access is network driver issues.

Type of Internet Access Blocking

Protocol and IP-Based Blocking

As the name suggests, this type of access blocking places access barriers within the network so that traffic is blocked to certain IP addresses. This blocking type uses entry-level network identifiers like TCP/IP port number in order to identify an application. Hence, all the traffic and internet access to the machine with the designated IP address is blocked. This type of blocking uses devices that reside between the internet connection and the end-user giving the blocking entity like an ISP complete of such a connection. This type of blocking will not affect a VPN user where the actual traffic destination is concealed.

URL Based Blocking

URL based blocking is a more effective technique and can be implemented both on the individual PC as well as a network device sitting between the internet connection and the computer. Such an internet access blocking technique prevents the user from accessing the blocked web content using the internet. This works when the filter intercepts the web traffic flow in the URL and checks this flow against the local database. Depending on the response received, the URL filter will block or allow access to the user. These are generally deployed by employers, educational institutions, etc. to block certain sites like gambling, sporting, betting, etc. While URL blocking is generally seen as a more effective form of internet access blocking concept it is also one of the more expensive options.

Blocking Based on Platforms

Platform-based internet access blocking is usually implemented by governments to prevent access to certain platforms or search engines. However, unlike the other forms of blocking user internet access, the platform-based blocking technique requires assistance from the platform owner as well. For this particular reason, it is not possible for individuals or even corporates to make such blocking demands. Therefore, platform-based blocking is usually carried out by the government bodies to comply with country-level rules and age-based rules. Platform-based blocking only prevents access to the platform and not necessarily the content. For instance, if Google is blocked, the user may not be able to access Google’s homepage, but they can still go to the website of any results that may still form a part of Google’s search engine. Therefore, you are blocking the platform and not the content of the searches.

Solution for Blocked Internet Access

If your internet access is blocked, then the first step is to determine the reason for this hindrance. As highlighted above, it can be any of the several reasons why a user may not be able to access their internet. While it is essential to know the causes leading to disruptive or blocked access, you can rectify it by implementing some of these steps:

System Restart

Restarting your PC is one of the most common and most recommended solutions to resolve most access related issues. It is an easy solution as you are simply required to reboot your system. In the majority of cases, minor problems can be resolved using this method. Once the system is rebooted, you can open a browser window to check if your internet access is blocked or not.

Restarting Your Router and Modem

If the problem does not reside with your system but with the router or the modem, then you must begin by unplugging them. Routers and modems do not have interfaces to help reboot them. Therefore, the best method is to unplug them and then wait for some time before connecting your modem and then the router back. While most internet access issues can be rectified by doing this, however, if the problem persists then you must undertake network troubleshooting.

Disabling Firewall and Antivirus

An anti-virus software program in itself is not capable of blocking the internet access, however, most anti-virus products today come with built-in firewalls that can lead to your internet access being blocked. A simple way to check this is by disabling your antivirus and accessing the browser to see if the connection is restored or not. If the issue remains, then you may need assistance from the customer care team or look for another anti-virus product.

Restoring and Reinstalling the Antivirus software

Any setting related changes to antivirus firewalls may also lead to blocked internet access. If you have made any changes in the recent past, then you can re-set them to the original settings to see if the problem goes away. You can also try reinstalling the antivirus without the firewall utility.

Rolling Back Network Drivers

New updates in network drivers can also lead to blocked internet access. In such cases, you can try to roll back to the earlier version and then restart your PC to check if the access is unblocked.

Updating Network Adapter Driver

Internet connectivity can also be affected if your network adapter is outdated. This can be solved easily by updating the network driver and checking the access again. You may also uninstall the network driver and allow the system to install updated network drivers.

Clearing the Cache

Clearing the browser’s history and cache can also help unblock internet access. This can be helpful as cookies and browser history can block the website’s IP address leading to blocked access for the user.

Resetting the Internet Browser

You can also delete your browser profile and reset the browser to check if the internet access is back on. You can do this from the Task Manager.

Allowing the Browser to Access Network

This step can help you assess if the firewall is blocking the browser from accessing the internet or not. By checking the firewall and network protection settings in relation to your browser, you can see if the access is allowed or not. Here, you can select if you want to gain access to public or private networks depending on your specific requirements. Once you have saved the changes you can restart your system to check if the internet access is blocked or not.

Scan for Viruses

Lastly, malware and viruses can wreak havoc on your system and lead to internet access blockage. In some cases, viruses can use the LAN or proxy to modify or change your network settings or even damage the network drivers. The best way to overcome this is by running a scan or a security check.

In most circumstances, your internet access can be unblocked by using one or another of the above-mentioned solutions. However, if this does not help, then your blocked internet access may be due to a more complex reason which likely will require the assistance of a professional network engineer. Also, if the internet access is intentionally blocked by the employer then you can contact the relevant business authorities and submit a request for access.

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