It has never been easier to block instant messaging (IM) with Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG). If you’ve read my article that I wrote a couple of years ago on how to block IM protocols on ISA Server, you’ll definitely appreciate the ease with which you can do the same stuff more effectively with TMG.
In this post, I show you how you can block Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, Live Messenger, etc using Forefront TMG 2010.
Before I go in to the step-by-step procedure, I want to highlight what’s happening in the background.
- Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010 now comes with URL Filtering. URL filtering enables you to block web content belonging to a particular category such as Chat, Social Networking, or Pornography.
- Another new feature in TMG 2010 is Outbound HTTPS inspection. This allows all HTTPS user traffic to be inspected by TMG
These are the two new features that we will leverage to block chat. Here is a summary of what we will do:
- The only allowed traffic on your TMG server is regular web traffic (HTTP and HTTPS). I am against creating “generic” rules like “allow all” from internal to external when you have SecureNAT clients in your network as this defeats the purpose of filtering.
- Turn on HTTPS inspection. Read my earlier post if you need help enabling HTTPS inspection.
- In a “Deny” rule on your Web Access Policy, add the “Chat” URL category.
Why do you need HTTPS inspection?
Many IM clients and software like Skype, try to connect using dynamic UDP ports and eventually fail back using HTTPS. With HTTPS inspection turned on, TMG will be able to inspect inside HTTPS to see if the software is trying to request access from a blocked URL.
1. In the Forefront TMG console, locate your Web Access Policy that denies traffic. If you do not have one, right click on Web Access Policy in the left pane and choose Configure Web Access Policy.
2. Click on the “To” tab. Click the Add button.
3. Expand URL Categories. Add the “Chat” URL category to the list.
4. Click OK and Apply your changes. Wait for the changes to synchronize (Tip: you can verify this under Monitoring > Configuration)
Now for the best part: try connecting to Skype, or any of your favorite instant messaging software. Note that the web versions of these messengers are also blocked!
On a closing note – you can use the same technique to block P2P (peer-to-peer) and file sharing applications like eMule, Kazaa, eDonkey, BitTorrent, etc using TMG. In step 3, choose “P2P/File sharing” URL category.