Several years ago Phoenix Labs created a program called PeerGuardian. PG was meant to block known “bad” IP’s and allow a safer web experience. PG was freeware software that a few years after its release was known to contain many bugs and unsupported by any OS after Windows XP. To fix a lot of these issues, users had to search the web and find patches.
Why, all of a sudden, did users need to do this to keep up to date with the program? Well, back in 2007 its developers seemed to have just dumped the program. They let their domain for the block lists expire and then not long after that their DNS had also expired.
They then released a statement regarding the issues saying “First, we lost it. Now we let our DNS expire. What’s next? *sigh*. I’m sorry, everyone. We’ll try to do better in the future.” Two years later a group of developers who saw the need for improvement on the program got together and on September 30, 2009 they released the official PeerBlock 1.0 Stable release.
So I bet after a brief history lesson you may be wondering what it is? This is just the same as PG was, however a large number of the bugs in PG are now gone and it runs much more stable, as well, it is the first release that provides support for Windows 7. The goal of PeerBlock is to detect all IP’s that are known to be “bad” or “unsafe” such as governments, corporations, servers designed for anti-p2p, and even countries.
Here’s how they work.
Whenever your computer establishes a connection to another, for example connecting to Google’s website, your computer sends “packets” of information to Google’s servers. These packets of information contain data (your IP) that Google recognizes so it can then deliver a response to you and provide you with the information you requested.
This works with your Network Protocols on your computer so that it filters out the packets that are to be transmitted either to or from IP addresses located in database that you provide, one such database that is most commonly used is the lists found at list websites. When it filters out all of these packets it in essence helps make you safer on the web by stopping or preventing communications between your computer and the ones monitoring your activity.
PeerBlock does its job as it is supposed to. It will block all that are on the list. Not all of them on the lists are actually bad as some can change constantly, and just the same, not all bad IP’s are on the lists. This raises the question to some users “why should I use it then if it doesnt work?”
As previously stated it does this on the ones it is told to, and therefore is susceptible to not being perfect, however, the list contains several billion addresses which means that it does offer you greater level of safety and security on the web. It is recommended that when using this program you continue to use your regular firewall programs as normal since PeerBlock cannot block everything and doesn’t entirely work the same as a firewall.
My recommendation is that anyone and everyone use this software regardless of their daily internet activity. It only helps improve your safety and security on the net, and any improvement is better than none. It uses extremely low amounts of resources and wont be noticeable when used as a background process. It is supported on all Windows OS, however, it is not yet supported on any other OS. If you have any other questions or concerns while using this software forums and FAQ’s are located on their website.
Know of any other great filtering tool or ways to remain secure on the internet? Post comments below to add your input.