This article takes a straight-forward look at proxies at work and school, why network admins ban MySpace, Facebook, and other sites, what you can do about it, and the risks involved in using proxies to bypass firewalls and network restrictions.
Note: Network administrators and users are encouraged to read and discuss the topics in this document.
If you haven't already, learn the basics of what a MySpace proxy is. In simple terms, a proxy can be used to visit Web sites anonymously, and may be used to bypass network restrictions on certain sites such as www.myspace.com.
Proxies come in many shapes and forms, but proxy Web sites providing anonymous browsing use HTTP proxy server software. Also known as a Web proxy or CGI proxy, usually these are just Web sites running one of the popular proxy scripts - CGIProxy and PHProxy - or a custom proxy script.
Proxies serve many purposes, so there are many different types of users. Proxies can be used by network administrators for network testing, maintenance, and controlling or monitoring network traffic. Proxies are also used by malicious hackers and coders to hide their tracks. Proxies are often "chained" together to create a very difficult and sometimes impossible trail to follow.
Proxies are also used by regular Internet users who want to protect their privacy, browse the Web from a public computer anonymously, and otherwise protect their Internet usage rights and freedoms.
Many users fall in the grey area. These users have no malicious intent, but might use a proxy to bypass a network rule that they disagree with. Usually such activities include checking email, MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook accounts, visiting Hot or Not, etc. Some users might be brave and dumb enough to look at porn at work or school using a proxy.
While proxies may have a negative connotation to some people, as we can see there are many uses for the technology that proxies provide. Some may wish to stifle the freedom of the Internet with unnecessary privacy restrictions, but some just want to protect their network from abuse, avoid excessive bandwidth consumption, and keep employees productive.
Proxy users should watch their habits, and it is generally not recommended to tick off a network admin. ;) It is also the responsibility of a good network admin to analyze the particular needs of a network and protect the interest of both the management and the users.