When we use the internet over wifi owned by companies, organizations, or schools, we’re often blocked from getting to sites we want or need to access. Here’s a few tips on getting around those blocks.
To get to sites that are blocked, the technique used by some students I interviewed at a high school to may work for you, too. Try going to the httpS:// version of the site instead of the http version. Or try using the mobile version, where the site’s address may be spelled something like m.facebook.com. Play around for a while, comparing the addresses for sites that work on your mobile with the ones in your desktop browser.
A VPN protects your internet traffic as it enters and leaves your computer, goes through the local wifi network (whether that’s your company or school wifi, public wifi, or even your home wifi), and makes its way to the sites and apps you’re accessing. VPNs can also help you access sites that you normally can’t reach because they’re blocked in your country (they’re very popular with fans of Japanese animation, for example, or people trying to reach American video sites when they’re traveling abroad). Here’s some more info on VPNs, and recommendations of which ones to try. Whatever you do, don’t just grab some random VPN off the app store. There are some decidedly shady VPNs out there that will actually snoop on your internet use themselves.
Lantern is an app that can help you access blocked websites. Like VPNs, it also encrypts your internet traffic. It is not fully anonymous, so it is possible that if someone (say, your office IT staff) is looking at the network, they may be able to see that it’s your device using Lantern. But they won’t be able to see what it is you’re looking at.
These tools just get you to blocked sites. They’re a little more lightweight than you might need if you also have a life-or-death need to stay anonymous. If you’re trying to protect yourself from a government or police force, try these tools.
For more basic security and privacy advice, check out the rest of this website and order a copy of Keep Calm and Log On.