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School/Workplace Website Blocking

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For more and more office workers and students in middle school through to college find themselves unable to surf websites that are not relevant to their work or studies. Companies and schools are implementing web filtering systems such as Websense, SonicWall, Bess, and FortiGuard to keep employees and students from accessing social networking sites like myspace, facebook and online gaming sites. The largest rationalization for blocking these popular web sites is to keep people concentrating on work and studying.

For IT administrators in the corporate and educational environments there’s another reason for blocking myspace. Many websites offering HTML and CSS codes to manipulate the layout of someone’s myspace page often carry malicious code to force peoples’ computers to download and install viruses, adware and spyware. Myspace is blocked in order to secure computers and networks.

This isn’t enough to stop workers and students who can’t wait a few hours until work or school is done to check their myspace. There are millions of messages in thousands of threads on hundreds of web site forums on how to get around filtering systems to access banned web sites.

The most commonly promoted way around filtering systems are proxy sites also known as IP anonymizer sites. These third party web sites request banned web sites on behalf somebody behind a filtering system. Many of these proxy sites that based in questionable countries that are promoted to middle and high school students as a way to get to their favorite social networking sites. Many of these proxy sites capture e-mail addresses and passwords that people use to log onto social networking web sites. People who use these proxy sites find that their myspace or facebook account gets hijacked to send spam to the victims’ myspace or facebook friends.

The news media was littered with hundreds of stories of teenagers who were stalked and abducted by people ‘met’ on myspace. Even if the media blew the stories out of proportion and portrayed social networking sites as being full of child molesters, child protection is another reason schools block social networking web sites. The new trend is that bullying that once took place in hallways and on playgrounds has moved online. Cyberbullying is mostly found on the social network web sites.

Most schools and companies have computer and Internet access usage agreements that students and employees have to agree to that states how computers and Internet access can be used. Trying to get around filtering systems with proxy web sites or some other means is a violation of these agreements. Students can and will get suspended from school and/or banned from using school computers. Employees will get fired from their jobs.

There are those that despite the rules against attempting to access content that is banned in workplaces or schools will insist on trying to get such sites believing that they won’t get caught. This is absolutely untrue. The Internet content filtering systems used by companies and schools also have tracking as well. A record is kept of every web site visited on every computer. Even if the user clears the Internet history of the computer they are using, they can still get caught.

Even though many won’t like it, the best solution is to wait to get home where web sites can be visited free of filtering systems. It simply isn’t worth getting suspended from school just to check Myspace. Likewise online poker isn’t worth losing your job over. This isn’t an infringement of any ‘rights’ your using computers and Internet access you didn’t pay for, and it’s the school and company IT administrators who determine how the computers are used. Just accept it.


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