Knowledge of how to bypass blocked websites at school is a valuable commodity for students. While the freedom to do whatever you want is tempting, is it entirely safe to do so?
Let’s walk through a school firewall, along with some reasons you might not want to.
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How to bypass a school firewall
There are several tips for bypassing a school firewall. It depends on how the firewall works; some may monitor what you type in the address bar, while others will actively monitor traffic. Try them out and see which one works the best.
1. Use a proxy site to bypass URL restrictions
Proxy sites are services that process your requests for you. These servers come in handy when trying to bypass a firewall because the proxy handles all the browsing for you.
If your institution is blocking a game’s website, it will likely search for you by typing the URL into the address bar. A web proxy server bypasses this because you are not visiting the game’s website; you go to the proxy page and tell it to go instead. It then shows you everything on the game’s website, while your school’s firewall only sees the proxy URL.
For example, if you wanted to play Minecraft for free on your browser, your school might have already blocked the domain minecraft.net. As such, when you go to play, the firewall detects that you are visiting the Minecraft website and stops you.
However, if you access the website through a proxy server, the firewall will not see that the traffic is coming from the Minecraft website. Instead, it will only see the details of your proxy server, which sends you data from the Minecraft website!
The best part is that you don’t need to use or install any special software to use one. If the computers at your school don’t like you installing programs on them, using a proxy in a browser will easily bypass this restriction.
Companies like ExpressVPN also offer a special SOCKS5 proxy service that you can use to bypass a firewall. “SOCKS5” sounds complicated, but that’s just the name of the latest proxy server technology. It should work like any other proxy service.
2. Use a VPN to encrypt your traffic
VPNs, on the other hand, allow you to bypass firewalls by encrypting your traffic. Proxies get around the restrictions by giving you the banned website through a whitelisted site, but a VPN protects you by not allowing the firewall to see your browsing in the first place.
It does this by taking all the information your computer is about to send and encrypting it so that prying eyes cannot see what you are sending. The computer then sends this encrypted data to a VPN server, which decrypts your data, reads where you want to go and goes. It resumes its encrypted traffic, which bypasses the firewall.
If you don’t know which VPN to use, why not save some money and get ExpressVPN at 49% off? It’s one of our favorite VPN services for beginners and doesn’t skimp on your privacy.
3. Type the website’s IP address
When you type the name of a website into your browser, it is converted to an IP address. This happens because computers have no idea what the names are; it must convert them to an IP address using a domain name server (DNS).
This knowledge is useful if the firewall is looking for domain names rather than IP addresses. By typing the number in the address bar, you can visit the web page without notifying the firewall that you are going there.
Unfortunately, it is not clear what the IP address of each website is. You can use the WhatIsMyIPAddress search tool to find it.
Also Read: Top 10 Best Proxy Browser Apps (Android / iPhone) 2020
4. Use Google Translate as the Impromptu proxy server
Oddly enough, Google Translate is useful for bypassing a firewall! You must use Google Translate’s “translate page” feature to use it. When Google Translate translates a page, it uploads the page to the server, translates it, and sends the result to you.
Seems familiar? It should – it does the same job as a proxy server. This little trick makes Google Translate a discreet choice if all proxy websites are blocked.
5. Use a smartphone hotspot on mobile data
The repercussions of bypassing a school firewall
As much as you hate the school firewall, it’s there for good reason. Not only does this reinforce the idea that a school is a place of learning, but it can also protect you and the school from any illegal or malicious content.
1. You could have your personal information stolen
If you are using a proxy server, your traffic goes through a third-party server to reach the destination. The point is, how sure are you that the hosts on the server are not watching all the traffic you send?
This is one of the main reasons why it’s safer to wait until you get home. When you use free services, they are often free because the developers are making money with you in one way or another. This could be due to advertisements, or they could collect your personal information to sell it.
2. You could catch a virus
Worse yet, free services may not be too strict on the ads they show you. This could lead to your computer catching a nasty virus, which could then spread to other computers in the school.
School virus outbreaks are not unheard of; ItemLive explained how Lynn Schools blocked their internet connection for a week. Before having ideas, the school did not close its doors during the week; it was school as usual, just without the internet to spend time!
3. You could be suspended or expelled
It is very likely that your institution has a policy on the use of its computers. These detail what you can and cannot do with them, as well as what to expect if you are caught performing these actions.
These conditions may stipulate that by bypassing security, the school may prohibit access to the computer network. If you get banned you can no longer use the internet for browsing fun. Worse still, you can’t use them for studying, which is a huge drawback for your future job!
4. You might face legal action
Although using the above methods is not illegal, you can access illegal content using them. If you are caught accessing illegal content, the school may decide to pass the information on to the authorities. If this happens, you will be faced with legal ramifications for what you did.
Workarounds that do not bypass the firewall
Of course, there are ways to perform specific actions without having to bypass a firewall. These are safer (and sometimes school-funded!) Ways of using the Internet without the above problems.
Chat with Google Docs
Hope your school allows you to use Google Docs for work. Google Docs also has a chat feature that lets you collaborate with other people on the same document.
Of course, while you can use the chat feature to talk about productive things like homework and study, you can still use it as an improvised messaging service. Who knows, maybe you can do your homework in the handout while you chat!
Play educational games
While not as fun as Fortnite, educational games are a solid choice. If a teacher catches you playing something that helps you learn, why would they stop you?
If you can’t find games that teach you what you want to learn, you can always play typing games. This helps improve your words per minute, which is handy in the digital age. The 10 Fast Fingers game, for example, puts you in a race against other people to type a pass.
Learn a useful skill
SEE ALSO: Top 200 Free Proxy Sites – List of Best Free Proxy Servers
Effectively use technology in school
Firewalls aren’t installed to annoy you; they help promote learning and protect you from dangerous and illegal content. It is not impossible to circumvent them; however, with the potential repercussions and the alternatives available, you must ask yourself whether it is worth it.