How to: Access sites blocked by filters and firewalls

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With blocking of a website as popular as Facebook comes a lot of methods to unblock and access it. All sorts of techniques from hacking the blocking software itself, to proxies, alternate URLs and tunnelling can be used for accessing Facebook if it is restricted.

Of these, proxy websites are the easiest to use, as it requires only a web browser and no special software or tweaks installed. The problem with this is that you are tunneling the data through a third party website that may or may not be trustworthy. I would never login to any website through a proxy, for trust reasons. Proxy websites are easy and fast for normal websites, however – check out our list of proxy websites and addons for other apps like Hotspot Shield and proxy websites like hidemyass.com, highspeedvpn.com and proxyhaven.cn to unblock Facebook.

There are millions of websites online. There are over 1 billion net users, that is almost a sixth of the world’s total population. With such huge number of sites come huge abuse of the freedom offered by sites. Abusive sites may include a wide variety of content, which enrages various sections of the society/government/authorities.

For example, Facebook, the popular social networking website is blocked in almost all offices, schools and libraries know that users access Facebook and use up time, bandwidth and resources that could have been used for something more important (although that is highly debatable – socializing is not exactly a bad thing, online or otherwise).

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Technology has evolved a long way from the traditional Web 1.0 sites with images and tables, and as such, content filtering and monitoring are child’s play. There are many softwares available for use on the client computers themselves, but an even bigger threat for the freedom of net users is country-wide blocking of sites by means of packet filters and firewalls.

China, Singapore, Iran, North and South Korea (political sites) and UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other middle east countries (adult sites) are known to block sites extensively. These countries use expensive equipment and complicated filtering mechanisms to block not just the domain, but in many extreme cases, any mention of the site in URL and searches. Recently, India, previously a country with liberal cyber laws, has been noted as having high censorship activity. Many torrent sites have been repeatedly blocked in India because of faulty implementation of court orders by ISPs.

Offices may also have restrictions on social networking and related sites. Some of the sites blocked in offices may include Facebook, Orkut, ebay, YouTube, Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, Flickr, Meebo, Yahoo! Messenger and other instant messengers(IMs). However, no machine is perfect, and there may be cases of unwanted blocking of sites which are needed legitimately.

There are many methods to access blocked or restricted sites, but just keep in mind that the extent to which blocking is done maybe different in different offices/schools/homes, and each of these methods may not work. However, one of these methods is likely to work. The methods of accessing blocked sites is listed in the order of easiest-to-hardest order, so you may want to try out the first method first and so on:

Ghostfox
Download GhostFox, a privacy-friendly browser which is based on Firefox. GhostFox has a privacy bar just below the URL bar, from which you can select a proxy (select the one from your region), click ‘Apply’ and start browsing(see image below).

GhostFox Privacy Bar

Unblock Facebook Proxy
Unblock Facebook Proxy is a free Windows software to access Facebook when it is blocked (typically at work or school).

Instead of using proxies that may or may not work, and may or may not be trusted, you can use this application. It simplifies the process of working around blocks for Facebook, replacing proxies. It has been certified to be adware-free and clean by Download.com, so it is relatively better and more trustworthy than all the fly-by-night proxy websites popping up around the web.

Download Unblock Facebook Proxy

VPN on your own server
Alternatively, you can get a cheap VPS and install proxy software (Squid) yourselves. Note that this requires some technical skill, so do it if you have 1)already handle VPS or, 2) enough time to figure it out once.

Note: When using a VPS or proxy, try to get a server that is as close to you as possible (geographically). This would reduce latency while surfing.

Enter the URL of the page in Google search box, and then visit the cached copy of the page. This can be done by clicking the “Cached Page” just beside the green-coloured URL of the page(see image below).

Google Cache Link

Using IP address instead of domain name
Some of the older filters and firewalls may have trouble recognizing sites when they are converted to decimal number. Get the IP of the site from Web Server IP Checker and go to RedRoster. Enter the IP in the IP address field and hit calculate. You will get a decimal in the ‘Decimal’ field. Paste it in your browser as http://decimalnumber

If they use software like Cyberroam, uTangle, Ebox, pfsense or Endian, it updates its block lists and parameters frequently, rendering old proxy websites useless. If you try to pick alternate URLs from Google, you find that all URLs on several pages on Google (or other search engines) are blocked by Cyber Roam.

Proxy websites
Use anonymous browsing services like proxy servers. These servers fetch pages from the sites that you require, but the filters think that you are using the proxy sites. However, some sys-admins have become wary of such tactics, and may even block out proxies. One such site is Ghost Proxy. However, GhostFox is a better alternative for sites which require logins.

If you are desperate for access and require good service, consider using a paid proxy service like Hide My Ass or Freedur. These cost $5-20 per month, and some allow multiple computers to access simultaneously.

To stay one step ahead of blocking software like Cyberrom, sign up to a circumventor mailing list like Peacefire’s. You may have to do this from a place which does not employ blocking techniques. Once signed up, you will be sent occasional mails when new proxy (circumventor) sites are set up. No blocking software blocks email accounts like GMail and Yahoo Mail, so you can log in to your email inbox and find new proxy websites to use easily.

Hope you had a good time bypassing nasty censorship software and filters with these methods – and happy browsing!

Discussion

  1. I am using this right now: highspeedvpn.com
    I noticed VPNs tend to work much better than proxies.

  2. I’m using Freedur to access restricted sites here in China. I’ve been using it for just a few months but I’m thoroughly satisfied with the software. Goodness knows the troubles I went through before that to access blocked sites like Blogger, Facebook and Youtube. Good to know that there are several methods one can use.

  3. @Nirmal: Cached pages will not work for anything other than just viewing the pages – I should have made that clear. To use Orkut etc., use one of the other methods suggested above.

  4. Cached pages may not work all the time, I have tried it to login to Orkut and it gets redirected to normal page.
    Anyways nice info.

  5. @ChinaProxy: Yes, China is known to be one of those countries blocking sites aggressively. And return of cheers from India too!

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