Considerations Before Beginning
- Attempting to bypass your school or company Internet filter is likely a violation of the acceptable use policy. Therefore, you should not attempt it in ordinary circumstances. In some cases, you might have a legitimate reason to bypass the filter and are not at risk of violating acceptable use policy---or you might work in information technology and want to check your company's connection defenses from time to time to see if standard bypass techniques work on your network. But if you don't have a legitimate reason for doing this, bear in mind that violation of the acceptable use policy could have serious consequences, depending on where you work or go to school. Internet filters have been around a long time, and many of the simple techniques of the past don't work in newer versions.
- The simplest and most effective means of bypassing any Internet connection filter is to use your own connection. Anyone with an iPhone (or any Web-browsing smart phone) can simply surf to blocked sites and visit them at leisure. Cellular modems can be used with notebooks to achieve the same goal.
The other major mechanism for bypassing Internet filters is something called a proxy server. This is software installed on sites that fools the filter. The software thinks you are surfing to one site, but that site provides a gateway whereby you can surf elsewhere undetected. There are many proxy servers installed on sites around the Web. Most of them are blocked by the filters as soon as they are discovered.
Since most publicly available proxies are blocked, you can set up a private one that no one else knows about. If you have a high-speed Internet connection at home, you can discover your home IP address at sites like whatismyip.com, then install the proxy software on your home computer. At the filtered connection, surf over to your home computer's proxy server and go from there. Filters fight this technique by preventing low-level users from accessing unclassified sites or IP addresses the filter has never "seen" before. Also, filters monitor for proxy activity and flag administrators when suspicious actions occur.
If you own a website, you can install a proxy server online. This gets around the problem of filters not allowing access to unclassified IP addresses if your site is already classified as a safe address. As soon as the proxy server is discovered on your site, it will be blacklisted by filtering companies, and millions of Web users at school and work will no longer be able to visit your site.
A final technique is to load a disc or USB drive with an operating system like Linux, a Web browser and the HTML code for a "site" with a proxy server installed. Boot the machine off the USB drive, surf to the page with the proxy software on the drive and from there access the Internet unfiltered. Sometimes a copy of Firefox on a USB drive and the accompanying code is all it takes. Many companies prevent USB access to thwart this technique, and suspicious activities are usually monitored.