Microsoft's internal network censors Torrentfreak




This isn’t new, and it’s probably not even news. Are people surprised that company networks block a lot of sites?


I’m not surprised but I am always up for criticising that behaviour, especially when sites are blocked by mistake (again!) or if it is censorship.


I guess that’s fair. I just think that the article makes it sound like this is a unique incident and not pretty standard. I assume whoever blocked it never really doublechecked and there’s little incentive to fix.


My corporate blocking software blocks Macys but not Dillards. Conspiracy?


Yeah, pretty much that - MS subscribes to some service that has recently changed the rating of the site.

I can’t read the linked article either - my work’s filter blocks it as “Category: Peer-to-peer File Sharing” even though, as noted, it’s a site with reportage on subjects centered around peer-to-peer file sharing, rather than a site used itself for the purpose. The intent was to prevent file sharing; a side effect that no one is too distressed about is that it blocks some journalism about file sharing.

Similarly, online game sites are blocked under the same rating as game review sites.

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Now I’ve got X in my head.
“I must not think bad thoughts,
I must not think bad thoughts.”

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Most any corporate IT is going to block sites with the word “torrent” in the name/url. This is a non-story.

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Are people surprised that company networks block a lot of sites?

Probably not.

Are people surprised that a tech company blocks a tech news site? Apparently so.


Torrentfreak is blocked at my work too, always presumed it’s because of the domain name. It’s annoying, but that’s what home net access is for.

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The variety of network rules I encountered doing consulting were astonishing. Some companies would let you spend all day reading sports websites but blocked anything with ‘mail’ in the URL. Others would allow access to the landing page of news sites but wouldn’t let you read any articles. Most of these were claimed to be for productivity reasons rather than security. None of them were able to block us from using a VPN to access the outside world. By the time they start down that rabbit hole, it’ll already be five years too late since most will use their mobile devices and personal data plan instead. No doubt some will make a policy against using personal devices on company property. More evidence that all too often management is about making sure there is a bag of salty water occupying each cubicle during office hours rather than focusing on end results.


When I worked at an unnamed place one might compare to MS, corporate filter would block work-related stuff all the time. Usually it would evoke laughs from people nearby when someone would trigger the block page. Most legit stuff blocked was under “hacking”, which is precisely what my work-related task would entail. It would be less hacky with better docs, but you work with what you got.

Getting around it was trivial. Couldn’t send perl scripts through email either, so you’d just name your file “virus.txt” to send it through.


One problem is that a) corporate IT usually has no idea what their web filter software is blocking, and b) pointy hair bosses are paranoid that their employees might be browsing “bad” sites where their corporate IP address might get associated with content that reflects badly upon the company.

Our new web filtering firewall blocked even some of our own web sites. I finally disabled all but the porn filter – the porn filter being required because otherwise we risk sexual harassment lawsuits. It’s not perfect but it’ll keep us from getting sued, because now we show that we have at least tried to create a good working environment for our female workers. My guess is that Microsoft’s web filtering firewalls were recently upgraded, and upgrades typically have all the filters turned on right out of the box. Unless you’re a bank, that’s likely not the settings you want for your firewall. But it takes time to recognize that the firewall is blocking things it shouldn’t be blocking, find the settings, and disable the idiotic categories that are being blocked…

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