The school may set up certain browsing restrictions on devices connected to their network, in order to protect the students from unsafe browsing activities and accessing sites with inappropriate content. Some of this content may be harmful to students, and other sites may jeopardize their safety and security by making them publicly accessible to be targeted by aggressors. Yet, it is shocking to discover how eager students are to use free proxies in school to bypass the filters put in place by the school’s internet service providers. They may be unaware that their actions are putting them at risk of cyber crime.
What Are Free Proxies?
A surprising number of teens are savvy enough to know about this, probably more so than adults. A free proxy is a forwarding proxy server that is accessible by any Internet user. An anonymous free proxy allows users to hide their IP address while browsing the Web or using other services on the Internet. If a student wishes to access a blocked or filtered website, they may simply access the proxy webpage, key in the URL of the blocked site, and they are immediately able to view the blocked page through the proxy, as the IP address is masked and hence the filter no longer applies. Examples of anonymous free proxies are vtunnel, proxy.org and publicproxyservers.
Banning Proxies: A Game Of Whack-A-Mole
Schools may believe the easiest solution to this problem is to ban free proxies. However, when they block access to one, another two or three will pop up. There may be an infinite supply of free proxies out there that students would simply switch to whenever they can no longer use an old one. There were over 90,000 proxy sites identified in 2009, a number which has certainly grown exponentially by now. This is a neverending process, and meanwhile, it does not address the imminent cyber security threat.
The Threat To Cyber Security
Filtering websites on the school network is not just about preventing students from accessing social media sites or unsavory websites. It is also about restricting access to unsafe sites which may be hosting viruses, malicious software, or capturing your data in some other way, especially confidential data such as passwords. Information harvested could be sold online, or worse, used against the school or the students individually. This may even escalate into a situation where the student is personally attacked, be it online, or in real life; be it individually, or en masse.
It is dangerous to use free proxies, and students should be taught to take responsibility for their actions while in an educational setting so as not to compromise the safety of themselves and the ones around them by accessing unsafe sites on the school network. Check out our knowledge base to learn more about safety and security while using online proxies, or how proxies can be used for increased security.