Kids use proxies to outsmart school tech

Tech-savvy students are teaching their classmates how to bypass school web security, according to a web security firm.

Citing research from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), SmoothWall said as many as half of 13-17 year olds have used proxy technology to access sites blocked by their schools' web filtering system.

But Tom Newton, product manager at SmoothWall, said more students than that are likely using such proxies to dodge security, a practice dubbed "shadow surfing".

"That number was probably lower than what we expected," he told IT PRO. "It's not the preserve of the geeky kid any longer."

"It's so easy to do, the knowledge spreads like wildfire and they're all at it," he claimed. "You just need one kid that's good at IT to find [a proxy] and share it."

Proxy sites let users connect to a web page without having to directly touch the end server allowing the user to access the web page privately. Proxy systems can also be software based, and be passed around by students using USB sticks.

While proxies are handy for privacy reasons, such technology makes it tough for school IT managers. Indeed, Newton said some school IT administrators have told him that the top ten sites in their logs were all proxy sites.

While most students are likely looking at social networking sites and playing games, some are worried that students will use such free rein to look at porn or bully their classmates.