Tip Thursday - Anonymous Surfing

Welcome to Tech Insider’s Tip Thursday, in which we bring you computing tips and computing information you can easily apply at your desk top.

This week: anonymous Web surfing.

From time to time, employers decide to block a Web site they have determined that their staff shouldn't read. Employers and agencies certainly have the right to block Web sites. But as a purely intellectual exercise, we wonder if an agency's blocking policies have been fully implemented. There may be ways around the blocking policies.

The concept of anonymous surfing is simple. If a user points a browser directly to a blocked URL, the local Internet gateway detects the URL as forbidden and stops the user from accessing the site. Using anonymous surfing, a user accesses a third-party Web site, which anonymously redirects to you the blocked URL. A system administrator can detect Web traffic to the third-party site but cannot detect where the traffic is being redirected. Administrators, of course, can block access to these free Web-based sites, which include Proxify, VTunnel and Anonymouse.

People who have software downloading privileges onto hard drives can download anonymizing software such as Tor (which is free) or Anonymizer (which is not, but offers a 30-day free trial). Torpark, a version of Tor, is designed to be accessed from a USB flash drive.

Web RSS readers also may not be picked up in an agency's URL blocking policy. A Web RSS reader, such as free ones from Google and other companies, allow users to sign up for certain blog feeds and read them by viewing individual postings through the Web RSS reader.