Thursday, February 15, 2007

How your students bypass the school's Internet filters

While I knew this was possible, I never really knew how easy it was. A poster on one of my listservs (next week's topic) suggested that we just look up the words: bypass, internet, filter on Google. I did and I was surprised at how easy they say it is (whether it is really easy or not is another story).

Every semester, I have people complain that this site and that site are blocked at their school. I usually just end up telling them about alternative sites to use. I likely will continue to do so, because I don't want them to get in trouble. However, I think that you should know how your students are doing it.

There are about 4 or so hits on the first page that link to products/sites that help people get around Internet filters.

If you ever check these out remember 1 thing, DO NOT INSTALL OR DOWNLOAD ANYTHING. The sites/services are dodgy at best and I would not trust them on your computer. I would even go as far to say that you should make sure to have your antivirus up to date and your Operating System (i.e., Windows XP) up to date before visiting. Do you get the picture? Visit these sites at your own risk.

Here are the results:

I'm really interested to see if the filters actually block these sites as well. I wonder how well it all works.

One option that students have it to install a proxy server on their own computers at home (somewhat easy to do). This way, the filter company wouldn't have a chance to block it.

Lastly, I'm really interested in these methods for freedom of information issues. I'm not really concerned about high school students in America...block away. However, I really am concerned about access to information for those living in countries that feel blocking information is in the best interests of the population (and the government).

I have seen this happen many times with friends and colleauges in China. Actually, it was through one of them that I first heard about using proxy servers to get around filters.

So, use this information at your own peril, but it is an issue is worthy of your attention.


Anonymous said... <- Myspace-capatible proxy Myspace proxy and will NOT get blocked *wink*

Dan said...

Beauty of blogs. This comment was waiting only an hour after my original posting.

This also demonstrates how much Web business are really on the ball and are very willing to fill this need. The comment above links to a proxy service that is primarily for MySpace, which is a very popular online social networking service that is blocked in most schools.


Muhammad Abdul-Mageed said...

Oh, seems interesting! Many governments will not be happy to know that!

Dan said...

No doubt. It's a losing game, for them though. Each time they block something, a new route opens up.

This is true for all organizations that aim to block access to information. It's really a losing game. One lesson that can be learned from history, is that any technology developed to block access to information can be easily bypassed.

There is a great example with HD DVDs. The encryption that they use is called AACS. Encryptions rely on "keys" to decrypt information. The most recent encryption was broken even before the standard was released! wikipedia article


Post a Comment