How To Block Online Porn

Porn is one of the fastest growing pieces of content on the internet. This guide provides the tools and framework needed to block online porn on your network.

CleanBrowsing is a DNS Filtering technology that creates safe browsing experiences on your network.

Step 1: Restrict access via a Content Filter

Online porn is pervasive, it's accessible via a number of different mediums, search engines, devices, and consoles. The most effective method of restricting access to this content is the use of a content filtering service.


Content filters come in all shapes and forms. They should not be confused with absolute solutions, rather they should be looked at as deterrents and complementary controls. These solutions offer a way to allow, and disallow, content coming through your internet.


Content filters are effective because they do a lot of the heavy lifting. Good filters will crawl the web and have a mechanism in place to continuously stay up to date. CleanBrowsing is known as a DNS-based content filter. This means we use the Domain Name System (DNS) technology to help us identify what should, and should not be allowed on a users internet.


There are other types of content filters, they can be found in browsers, routers, Operating Systems, apps (e.g., Nanny-like software) and mobile devices.

Configuring Content Filtering Services

Employing a DNS-based content filtering service is straight forward, but to the uninitiated it can feel daunting. In most instances, DNS can be updated on any device by navigating to the devices settings section and finding the network options.


Here are some examples of how this works for different devices using our free Family filter.

Operation Description
Mac and Linux computers Settings->Network->Wifi->Advanced and change the DNS servers to point to:
ChromeBook Settings->Network->Wifi and configure the Custom NameServers to point
Windows Control Panel->Network->Internet->Network Properties and configure the DNS servers to point
iPhone, Android and iPads Go to Settings->Wifi settings and configure the Nameserver to point to:
Home router Login to your router, look for Settings or DNS Settings and change the Nameserver to point to:

We recommend configuring your content filtering at the router, or the edge of your network. This ensures that the rules you configure get applied to all the devices connected to that router. (more on DNS communication Hierarchy).

Available Apps to simplify

If the steps above are too complicated, we have created apps to help with the configuration we have apps that help with our filters:

Operation App
MacOS Read more
Windows Read more
iOS Read more
Android Read more

Another option is to change via the command line interface (Command Prompt or Terminal). We have more details on how to do it to do this for different OS' in our document repository.

Step 2: Enable Safe Search Option

All content filters will have similar limitations when it comes to a closed platform. Closed platforms are platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and a number of other similar sites we use on a daily basis. A closed platform has the ability to create its own rules on how, and what can be filtered. This means you have to take a few extra steps if you allow access to these platforms.


The easiest is to see if the platform offers you a Safe Search like experience. Some of the more popular ones like Google, YouTube and Bing already expose this feature to you. You typically have to configure this feature via their application (think the Google Chrome browser). Or you can create local rules on your device to force all google requests to go to their Safe Search IPs.


You can do configure Safe Search IPs at the network level on a device by configuring the local hosts file. It would look something like this:


Find more information on Safe Search via the Google Family Safety page.


When you use our Free family filter we enforce Safe Search on GoogleSafe Search on Bing searches and Restricted mode on YouTube. We also do this for DuckDuckGo and any other platform that offers it. Paid customers have the ability to tune this as necessary for their specific needs.


While most of these platforms allow you to configure Safe Search in the application, that's not always a good thing if you don't restrict a users ability to disable it.


One thing to be considerate of are the various of Search Engines that exist that you might not be aware of. Kids in particular have a gift for finding new search engines, so be sure to block search engines that don't offer a Safe Search feature. Customers can easily enable this via the Search Engine filter.

Step 3: Employ Hardening Controls (e.g., Parental Controls)

Most operating systems and devices have parental control options to prevent a user from making changes to existing settings. This is especially important if you want the user, especially a child, not to undo your controls.


Organizations can typically do this via roles, rights and group policies, but for parents it can be a bit tricker.


We prepared a guide specifically designed to help educate parents on how kids bypass controls and what can be done to help stop kids from making changes.

Step 4: Disable Proxy / VPN access

The biggest challenge you will have when trying to create a porn-free web will be Proxies and VPNs.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPNs allow a user to punch a whole through your network, bypassing network defenses. This gives the user unfettered access to the web. This is further complicated because they are so easy to find, use and in many instances integrated.


VPN's can be found, installed and / or integrated in a few different places:


  1. Installed as an application on a device.
  2. Installed in a browser as an extension or plugin.
  3. Embedded within a browser (e.g., Firefox, Safari)
  4. Embedded within a device application (e.g., AntiVirus)


We prepared a guide that shows you how to prevent a user from installing browser extensions and add / ons and the most effective approach to applications is to ensure you're using appropriate permissions. A user's ability to have unfettered access to a machine should be reviewed, and adjusted accordingly.

Proxy Sites

Proxy sites are a big challenge. A great example of a proxy site might be a web caching site. Something that has a time machine feature that allows you to see a site at some earlier point. While its design is not malicious, it is used by kids, and employees alike, to gain access to content they should not have access to.


Another great example might be a site that prints the content of a website.


If you use the CleanBrowsing free Family filter we will work to detect and block VPN / Proxy platforms from working on your network. Unfortunately, not all VPN's can be blocked.

Step 5: Be Selective About Social Media Platforms

The world of social media is very complex. Similar to Google, Facbook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and so many others have becomes integrated in the way people engage online. They have also become havens for content like porn.


Some platforms have done better than others. For instance, TikTok is paving the way with new enhanced parental control features known as Digital Wellbeing. You access it by going to Settings > Digital Webllbeing > Screen Time Management inside the app.


Unfortunately, that is not the case for other apps. The worst offenders are platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Not only do they lack basic parental control features, they are a safe haven for adult, pornographic and obscene content. So be mindful of allowing it on your network and devices.


Although Facebook also lacks some of the core content filtering features, they are much better about disallowing that type of content. They also introduced Messenger Kids as a way to create a safe environment for kids. It works pretty well stripping content that might be shared between users (e.g., pornographic links).


Some chat apps are not always considered social media platforms, but you should be aware of them. If your child is older and has access to these types of apps, e.g., WhatsApp, WeChat and similar tools, we recommend doing spot checks every few days or weekly. Looks for the photos they are taking and sharing (including deleted photos found in the trash), and who they are talking to. It will help you better understand your child's online behaviors and help identify ways to work together to create a safe browsing experience.

Step 6: Be Mindful of Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are the wild wild west with their extensibility, and app ecosystems. We can't stress the importance of leveraging a parental control application, or settings, when available. This is especially true for young children.


On IOS (iPhone/iPad), you can do it by going to Settings->General->Restrictions and filtering the content you do not want to allow your children to see. On that page, if you scroll down to Allowed Content, we recommend setting:


  • Movies: PG-13
  • TV Shows: TV-14
  • Books: Restrict explicit content
  • Apps: 12+
  • Siri: Explicit language filtered
  • Websites: Restrict adult content


Each device might have a different name for Parental control, but it is generally called Parental Control or Restrictions.


You also want to consider what your child can do on the device. If they have what is known as administrator access to the machine, they have the ability to make any changes they want. It's why it's so important you leverage the parental control features offered by the platform Operating System (OS) you are using.


We have prepared two different guides for Apple iOS and Google Android that will illustrate the process to configuring a content filtering service like CleanBrowsing on those devices. Note that you will want to augment our apps with other hardening tools like AppLocker for Android, and Restrictions for iOS to ensure users can't undo the settings.

Step 7: Use Strong Passwords When Hardening

Contrary to what we might think, we are not as unique as we might think we are. This is especially true when it comes to creating passwords and pins. This is especially true for pins that are restricted to 4 to 6 digits and only numbers.


This step is the most practical and straight forward action. Create Complex | Long | Unique passwords where possible, and don't needlessly share them with your kids or employees.

Step 8: Proactively Monitor Activity

One of the more overlooked steps on any network is proactive monitoring. As the name implies, it's the act of taking deliberate steps to see what is happening on the network.


Large organizations have systems for this, but parents might find this a bit cumbersome.


If you're leveraging a different filtering system, you will want to check if it provides you visibility into what is being accessed. Here are a few things to look at:

Operation App
Browser History Know that browser history can be deleted (cleared), question any activity that might be missing
Multiple Browsers Be sure to check all browsers. There a myriad of other browsers that are easily installed, search for them on the specific devices. The one most commonly used for anonymity is Tor.
Gaming History Take time to look at the logs associated with games, what is being shared amongst the users.
VPN History If a VPN exists, be sure to spend time looking at those logs.

If you use a paid content filtering platform like CleanBrowsing, you can view all the activity for your network in one centralized dashboard. This is not available for the free service.

Step 9: Set an Online Schedule

Another great approach to limiting the availability of online porn is to set a schedule for when the internet can be accessed. This is especially important for families with young kids.


Parents, unlike organizations, are home during off-hours and it's during this time you spend time with the family, but also enjoy hobbies and sleep. Kids don't always follow the same routines, and the evenings present a unique opportunity to find and access content online. To help with this, we recommend considering an online schedule.


Schedules can be set on most devices, usually in the restricted or parental control settings, and can also be found in most routers. Additionally, many content filtering platforms offer it. Schedules are available on the paid version of the CleanBrowsing content filter.

Step 10: Stay Informed (Parents)

This is more applicable to parents, than organizations, but can apply the same to both.


The reality is that technology is constantly evolving and most parents are not technically equipped, or prepared, to deal with the pace of today’s technological advancement. They are a) unable to understand the various technical aspects of the technology and / or b) incapable of doing so.


We encourage you to be more patient and invest more time better understanding the mechanics of the web. There is no short-cut to this problem. A great resource to assist you with this is the Protect Young Eyes organization. They have an overwhelming amount of resources that highlights everything from tools at your disposal to the latest trends in technology.


Finally, stay present and talk to them. None of this will work if you are not around to watch what they are doing and enforcing the rules. Enjoy the Internet together whenever possible and you will both benefit from a safe browsing experience.

CleanBrowsing Offers Free Filters

For those unable to purchase a subscription, CleanBrowsing does offer a free forever filtering service that can be deployed on any device that uses DNS. It is a fast, privacy-first, network that is designed to help parents and institutions create safe browsing experiences for kids and families.


No signup required. No credit card required. No tracking on our end.