Restricting Access To Sites On iOS Devices

One of the more common requests we get for iOS devices is to restrict what sites on the web that a device can access. This can be done in a number of ways. The best, in my experience, has been using a proxy.

In Apple Configurator 1.2 there’s an option for a Global HTTP Proxy for Supervised devices. This allows you to have a proxy for HTTP traffic that is persistent across apps.

Each Wi-Fi network that you push to devices also has the ability to have a proxy associated as well. This is supported by pretty much every MDM solution, with screens similar to the following, which is how you do it in Apple Configurator.

The above has I am all about layered defense, though. Or if a proxy is not an option then having an alternative. Another way to disable access to certain sites is to outright disable Safari and use another browser. This can be done with most MDM solutions as well as using a profile. To see what this would look like using Apple Configurator, see the below profile.

Now, once Safari has been disabled, you then need to provide a different browser. There are a number of third party browsers available on the App Store. Some provide enhanced features such as Flash integration while others remove features or restrict site access.

In this example we’re using the K9 Web Protection Browser. This browser is going to just block sites based on what the K9 folks deem appropriate. Other browsers of this type include X3watch, Mobicip¬†(which can be centrally managed and has a ton of pretty awesome features), bSecure (which ties in with their online offerings for reporting, etc) and others.

While this type of thing isn’t likely to be implemented at a lot of companies, it is common in education environments and even on kiosk types of devices.¬†There are a number of reasons I’m a strong proponent of a layered approach to policy management for iOS. By leveraging proxies, application restrictions, reporting and when possible Mobile Device Management, it becomes very possible to control the user experience to an iOS device in such a way that you can limit access to web sites matching a certain criteria.

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