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No. 37 Vol. 1Tue 12 April 2022Price: 0/0d

Proxy Avoidance

pointing finger Yarns >> Tue 12 April 2022 by Thran >>

Rising up

During my school years, I had a strong wish to access the Internet at my leisure. Regrettably my school's ISP (C2k) did not share this belief in open access to information. Many websites were caught in the filters long before they reached our heavily outdated Celeron boxes. The list of forbidden websites seemed to grow daily. Each time someone found a new games website, or "funny pictures" website, it was blocked within weeks. The theory was passed around that by 2012 the only website that C2k wouldn't block would be their own.

Something had to be done.

At this time I had access to web hosting with a typical offering of PHP/MySQL (2007's finest). I found a PHP Proxy script; it was imaginatively named PHProxy. I soon uploaded and configured the script and gave it a test - success! I was presented with a text input box, a "GO" button and a framed window. Therein I could type in any URL, then this frugal PHP script would fetch the requested web site and its contents were displayed in the frame below. This meant that if one could access my website, then one could use it to access any website. My web host was used as an intermediary.

PHProxy

The following day, I went to the ICT Suite at lunch time and demonstrated this Internet liberation. Any website was available - I was able to access the vaunted Bebo and view anyone's page, something never before seen within these walls. For my efforts I was lauded for "hacking the system" by the small crowd who were present. (Then came the inevitable requests for my "hacking skills" to be utilised in many ways, some less illegal than others.)

The first blow

The following week I returned to the ICT Suite and logged on to make use of my proxy script. Much to my dismay, instead of the text input box and the "GO" button I was instead presented the "ACCESS DENIED" page of the very type my proxy should bypass. It gave the reason: Proxy Avoidance along with my web domain name.

Thus ended my Internet freedom (at least for those 6.5 hours of the day). I then tried accessing the root page of my website and found the same block screen presented; they had blacklisted my entire domain! As I would verify in later years, network engineers are not partial to mercy.

The final blow

This the tale almost ends. Until that same evening when I received an email from my web host administrator. He informed me with firm politeness that a proxy server had been detected operating on my web space and that I should remove it immediately. This was because it violated my web hosting terms of service, which I as a schoolgoing youngster had definitely read carefully.

Not wishing to suffer any more online setbacks that week, I complied. The script was removed and a prostrate apology sent to the administrator. Thus ended the proxy server and all evidence of its brief existence.

In reflection

Years later, I wonder if there was collaboration. The timing of these two events was too near just to be coincidence. The warning didn't arrive during the first week of the proxy's operation, when it must have been flagged in the web admin's system. So why wait until the same week that I am blocked by the school network? This was clearly a campaign of targeted humiliation against me and both organisations were involved.

Also, in 2019 I enquired of a friend who is now a teacher. I asked him to attempt a visit to my old web domain. The schools in this country still use the same ISP, and lo, my website is still fully blacklisted! This is at least 14 confirmed years my humble web presence has been scorned by their database. Do not provoke the ire of C2k, for they have a long memory and it is filled only with grudges.

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