Access blocked websites at work

The topic of ‘companies blocking websites’ came up recently, so I thought I’d post a couple of workarounds, along with a nifty site to make you look productive…

First, the disclaimer. If your workplace is blocking websites, it’s for a reason (probably related to employee productivity!) so you should think twice before employing these methods. Check your workplace policy on personal internet use and only surf in your own time if permitted.

That said, onto the workarounds! For simplicity, I’ll assume you can’t install software to help out (such as to access the Tor network) and that you don’t want to modify how your browser connects to the net.

You basically have two easy methods that might work.

1. Use the IP address instead of the site name
Every website can be accessed by its unique IP address. For example, http://www.trademe.co.nz is the same as http://203.57.145.2. Connecting this way may work if simple address filtering is being used (at least until the IP is also blocked!) To find a website IP number, visit selfseo.com or iwebtool.com.

2. Connect to the website via a ‘proxy’ site
This basically involves your browser requesting a website via a different site that forwards on the pages. The trick here is that the forwarding site (the proxy) doesn’t list the site name you want to visit in the address bar so again simple filtering will be bypassed. To get started, visit proxify.com or a1proxy.com and enter the site you want to visit there. If you need a different proxy site, try one from this mega list.

A proxy warning – I strongly recommend you DO NOT login to sites (eg webmail) or purchase with a credit card through sites via a proxy server. ALL your communication goes via the proxy server and you can’t be 100% sure that the passwords and credit card details won’t be logged and/or abused.

Look productive while surfing
Here’s a nifty trick that works well for news sites or blogs where you’re only interested in the text content. Visit workfriendly.net, enter a site name and you’ll have the website disguised in a window that looks like Microsoft Word! 😉 Note the mouse-over “Boss Key” button that switches to different content…

Finally, be careful out there. Remember, ALL your internet activity (websites visited, email sent) is able to be scanned, viewed and/or logged by your IT department. Use secure webmail (eg Gmail) for personal emails and browse sensibly.

.

UPDATE (22-Feb-08):

A couple of other methods are worth adding to this post – both centring on the use of search engines which offer you the content you want, but via a different URL in the address bar.

– View the page via a search engine’s cache
When searching for a webpage, or even searching for a specific URL, you may be able to view a cached version of the page from the search engines database. For example, do a search at Google and look for the “Cached” link. This might be OK for sites that don’t update often, but may not be very useful for regularly changing sites, eg news. You’re relying on the fact that the search engines spider or bot has recently visited and indexed the page. Eg. here’s trademe.co.nz via Google’s cache.

– View the page via a translation service
There are several free webpage translation services on the net, including Google Translate and Altavista’s Babelfish. While Google doesn’t permit english to english translation, you could simply request a spanish to english translation which will simply render an english page in readable english (there may be minor changes however). You can do the same via Babelfish, but even better you can modify the resulting URL and force an english to english translation. Eg. trademe.co.nz via Google spanish to english, and trademe.co.nz via Babelfish english to english. Both of those links/URLs can be easily modified for a different page of your choosing.

About Chris
A self confessed geek, meteorologist (aka weather forecaster), father & proud kiwi mainlander living, working & playing in Wellington, New Zealand.

13 Responses to Access blocked websites at work

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Chris,

    Some good techniques, not needed in my office yet but definitely a problem in other offices inthe company.

    I can vouch for the nosey IT dept. I use to work in one and the Big Bro software is awsomely powerfull and not that expensive now. As an example it was possible to make a copy of every joke email that went through the place. for my personal collection. Not that I did that ofcourse!!

  2. JD says:

    Another great website is logmein.com….

    I use it at work and simply log into my computer at home and do all my web-browsing through that computer.

    All of the traffic is encrypted, so it’s impossible for your organization to see what you are doing or capture any information such as passwords, etc.

    I’m using it right now! It works exactly the same as the gotomypc.com website that you hear everyone talking about, except they have a free version.

  3. tony says:

    what about workplaces that filter proxy avoidance? are there proxy sites not labled as proxy to fool the system maybe?

  4. Chris says:

    Good question. I must admit I’ve never struck that problem so can’t say for sure… The best proxies to try would be “elite” proxies (here’s an elite specific list at FreeProxyLists.Com), but it might just be a matter of trial and error to see what works.

    If you want to investigate proxies more, try using Charon – an app to find, test and filter proxy sites. Note that it’s recommended to use an external judge to test the quality of a proxy…

  5. Pingback: Use your favourite apps at work « Noble Notes

  6. Michael says:

    I was very optomistic when I found these techniques, but unfortunately none worked. My interent permissions block “web proxies”, so cant acces via another site and I cant use the IP address either. They are very tight at my place, so will have to keep looking

  7. Chris says:

    Yeah, sometimes the IT department wins! If I come across any other simple methods I’ll post them here…

  8. Man's Health says:

    I found the way: http://strongvpn.com VPN. It gives US static IP address, encrypted tunnel between the PC and internet. IT requires some fee, but also it’s the only one service which really works, in the situation Michael has described.

  9. Mark V. says:

    Try to use vpn service.

  10. Anelly says:

    Web proxies are not working in most of the cases. Now i installed an application that has some premium proxies and i am able to access blocked websites.

  11. Tom says:

    Hi all 🙂

    why don’t you try this website:

    http://www.OpenBlockedWebsite.com (Open Blocked Website .com)

    It’s easy name to remember .. fast .. easy to use .. and has no annoying ads 🙂

    enjoy 😉

  12. maxinemckew says:

    Web proxies are the arteries that carry the life of youth -facebook and myspace- to every office and school 🙂

  13. Mike Smith says:

    Just to let you know, i was working at a company with a fortinet hardware firewall and web filter, managed to totally compromise the security by using a site that deaf people use to have web pages read to them, its a proxy of sorts, but by-passes most web filters and can be used at most locked down public internet spots,there was nothing i could not view, i wont post the name as some network nazi’s (administrators) might read this, but iam sure you can find it.Think outside the square, most of the techniques above will not beat more sophisticated security. Disfunktion.

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