Web Filtering with SquidGuard: Part One

web filtering

The General settings tab for SquidGuard under pfSense 2.1.3.

Now that we’ve covered both Squid and LightSquid, I thought it might be useful to cover some other Squid plugins. In this article, we will cover how to implement web filtering with SquidGuard.

SquidGuard is a URL redirector software, which can be used for web filtering of sites users can access. It uses blacklists to define sites for which access is redirected. Here, we are concerned mainly with SquidGuard installation under pfSense, but it can also be installed under Unix or GNU/Linux. The software’s filtering extends to all computers in an organization, including Windows, Macintosh, UNIX and Linux computers. It was originally developed by Pål Baltzersen and Lars Erik Håland, and was implemented and extended by Lars Erik Håland in the 1990s. The current version is 1.4, released in 2009.

As with other packages, installation of SquidGuard is easy. Just navigate to System -> Packages, scroll down to SquidGuard on the package list, click on the plus button on the right side of the listing, and on the next screen, click the “Confirm” button to confirm installation. The installation will take a few minutes. Once installation is complete, you will have a new menu item under Services called Proxy Filter, with which web filtering can be implemented.


The basic configuration of SquidGuard can be gleaned from the documentation on the official SquidGuard site. The simplest web filtering configuration has a single list of blocked sites and the URL of the page to show when the user tries to access a blocked site. The administrator, though, may choose to define more than one list, each representing a category to block. Finally, sometimes there is a demand to allow specific URLs and domains although they are part of the blacklists for a good reason. In this case, you want to whitelist these domains and URLs. This is generally accomplish in SquidGuard by editing the squidGuard.conf file, but if SquidGuard is installed under pfSense, the basic configuration can be done from the pfSense web GUI.

Web Filtering with SquidGuard: Configuration

You can configure SquidGuard in pfSense by navigating to Services -> Proxy Filter and clicking on the General settings tab. There is a check box at the top; check this box to enable the blacklist. Also on the General settings tab (towards the bottom of the page), you can specify the URL of the blacklist. You can use one of your own blacklists, or you can use one of the publicly available lists on the web. The official SquidGuard site has one at http://www.squidguard.org/blacklists.html. Enter the URL of the blacklist you want to use for web filtering in the appropriate edit box. Once you have done this, press the “Save” button at the bottom of the page.

web filtering

The Blacklist tab in SquidGuard; here you can download blacklists.

Next, click on the blacklist tab and press the “Download” button. Once the download is finished, the status box will display “Blacklist update complete” (it may take several minutes to download).

Once you have uploaded your blacklist, you will need to configure which categories of sites on the blacklist should be either allowed, blocked, or whitelisted. The simplest way to configure it is with the common ACL tab. The common access list settings will apply to all users of the proxy. The next tab is the “Groups ACL” tab, and if you want to apply different rules to ther source networks you should use this tab. This way, you wan have different policies for different networks. When you modify a target rule, you need to click on “Apply” in the General settings tab in order for the changes made to take effect.

In the dropdown box next to each of the target rules, you can select one of the following three web filtering actions:

  • Allow: Grant access to the target category unless blocked by another rule or exception
  • Deny: Block access to sites in the target category
  • Whitelist: Always allow access to the target category (even if blocked by another rule or exception.

At the bottom of the page, there is a check box to block IP addresses in the URL. This will prevent users from bypassing the filter by using the IP of the web site instead of the URL. They can still use the IP addresses of whitelisted sites in the URL, though.

By default, when a user attempts to visit a blocked page, they will see an internal error page indicating that the page was blocked and under which target category it falls. However, you can change the redirect page to a blank page, or any other internal or external URL.

In the next article, we will continue our look at SquidGuard configuration.


External Links:

The official SquidGuard site

URL Filtering – How To Configure SquidGuard in pfSense on hubpages.com

SquidGuard on Wikipedia

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