Students find ways to avoid the filter

Ryan Lawyer

As BSM becomes a more tech savvy school, websites as common as Facebook, YouTube, and the Knight Errant web page itself, have been blocked by the school’s filter. Now with the one-to-one laptop program, the attempts to evade the block have increased significantly. As security increases, the variety of methods to get around the block become more frequent and more creative.

To get around the web filter, students have tried several different methods. One method is a Mobile Hotspot, a portable device, commonly built into a cell phone, that emits a zone of wireless access around its user. The Hotspots are small and easy to conceal. “I would just put in my pocket and turn it on,” said senior Anthony Brask.

With the Hotspot, Brask could surf the net without any blocks. “It was a valuable tool when I wanted to do any kind of research at school,” said Brask. “The only problem is, it gives me slow Internet access,” said Brask.

To stop the use of Hotspots, the Tech Department uses a computer program that can pick up all the wireless information in the entire building, so any phone or Hotspot that is creating its own wireless zone can be located. “The software gives us the location of the Hotspot within three feet,” said Nick Gamache, Technology Manager. With the location, all the Tech Department has to do is walk to the room and look for the device. “It’s like a game of Hot and Cold,” said Gamache.

Using a Hotspot may seem like a good option, but it presents its own problems. “When my friends learned about it, they all wanted to use it and it made the Internet even slower,” said Brask. The wireless area of the Hotspot on a phone is only meant for one user; therefore when it’s used by multiple people, it slows down significantly.

Another method involved deleting the security portion of the URL on YouTube. “All I had to do was delete the block, and I was on the site,” said junior Will Hoesley, “[I would use it during] free periods, during class, or whenever I was bored and needed to watch something funny to pass the time.”

At first, teachers monitoring the computers during the day didn’t catch the students because they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. “Since YouTube was blocked at the time, I think teachers figured I had permission to be on the site so they didn’t think I was misusing anything,” said Hoesley.

Another method is the use of proxy sites––sites that send a user’s request through another server––allowing the user to avoid any blocks. As more proxy sites are used by students, more become blocked. “Students are actually helping me, because I know which websites they use, and which ones to block,” said Gamache.

A different way to avoid the block is using a teacher’s password. Occasionally a teacher will accidentally type their password into the Username box while a student is watching. Then the student tell their friends the password, and pretty soon the whole school knows.

This, however, is a far more risky option for students. “Using a teacher’s password would result in suspension,” said Mrs. Andersen, Assistant Principal.