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How to surf the Internet anonymously

Maybe some sites are banned at your workplace. Using a proxy site to access these sites is common, but may not be secure.

Harpreet Singh        Last Updated: November 19, 2010  | 11:40 IST

Let's start with a disclaimer: we are not promoting workplace anarchy. In the spirit of freedom of tech expression, we are providing some hints on how to circumvent a ban on social and professional networking sites in offices and institutes. Without getting into a debate about the reasons behind such bans, we want to point a way out from dilemmas where one simply can't do without accessing the banned sites. For instance, journalists like us need information at odd hours and need to access social IMs, and so the hunt for proxy sites begins.

A web-based proxy is the simplest way to access banned sites anonymously. You get connected to the site through a routed path. Using a proxy, your computer gets connected to a proxy server (computers outside your company's firewalls which are accessed over the Internet), which in turn facilitates the connection with the blocked web site. Sounds simple, of course, but choosing a proxy site is a task in itself. More so because most proxies are unreliable and have flaws of their own.

It is advisable to pick up your proxy from the proxy top sites like cantblock. me, mb35.info, and cloaking.me, which manually check each and every proxy for flaws on a regular basis. And once you have selected the proxy you wish to use, the tips and tricks mentioned below will help use the proxy sites more securely.

USE A PROXY

1) Open a proxy site in your web browser.

2) Enter the URL of banned site in the space provided on the proxy web page.

3) Make sure Java Script is enabled (if available).

4) Click on the button or hit 'Enter' to surf freely.

TIPS

1) Proxy chaining is using multiple proxies and chaining them to the desired web service. This makes your connection more secure (and slower) Initiator -> Proxy 1 -> Proxy 2 -> Proxy 3 -> Host

2) Do not use web-based proxy sites for anonymity as they keep a log of all the activity, including web pages visited, user names, passwords, etc. But if your normal IP address differs from the proxy's, you are surfing anonymously and are safe.

3) GPass, Tor, UltraSurf are some free utilities hide your IP address and location.

4) Sometimes typing in the IP address instead of the URL can unblock the website. However, if the software is able to map the IP address using a reverse DNS look up, your site will stay blocked.

5) Websites like Tinyurl.com and Snipurl.com offer URL redirects. After creating a redirect, enter the new URL to surf the blocked web site. If you are lucky, the redirects work, but only for some sites.

6) Use Yahoo Babelfish or Google Translate language tools as a proxy server. Enter the URL in the "Translate a Web Page" space.

7) Google mobile search and Opera browser simulator are other tools which can access blocked websites. Use these URLs to start browsing: www.google.com/gwt/n?u= example. com and http://www.operamini.com/demo/?u rl=example.com

8) If Gmail is not banned at your workplace, then you can use Gmail sidebar gadgets to view your accounts in sites like Facebook, Myspace etc. http://www.rotorblog.com/2009/08/25/15-useful-gmail-sidebar-gadgetsyou-wont-find-in-labs/

This story is from the November 2010 edition of Gadgets and Gizmos. Subscribe to the magazine for the Print Copy or iPad.

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