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PeerBlock is a free and open-source personal firewall application specifically created to block connections to IP addresses that have been associated with various unwanted activities like spyware, malware and illegal file sharing. It is widely utilized by those looking to protect their privacy and security while using the internet. 

Mark Bulas initiated the development of PeerBlock in 2006 as an upgrade for PeerGuardian file-sharing software, providing enhanced protection from anti-P2P organizations and government agencies. Originally intended as an upgrade solution for PeerGuardian, PeerBlock quickly became popular. 

PeerBlock utilizes IP lists that are organized into groups such as advertising networks, spyware/malware sites, educational institutions and government agencies. These lists are maintained and updated by the PeerBlock community; additionally, users may create their own custom lists.

PeerBlock uses the WinPCap packet capture library to intercept and analyze network traffic, blocking any connections established with an IP address included on a blocklist - effectively cutting off all incoming and outgoing traffic to that IP address. 

PeerBlock has quickly become a favorite among internet users seeking to protect their privacy while surfing the web, yet critics argue it may provide a false sense of security and its blocklists may not always be up-to-date or accurate. 

PeerBlock remains an effective tool for users seeking an extra layer of protection for their online activities due to its open-source nature and active community of developers and users that help ensure it continues to evolve with changing threats online.

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