You were so excited to read about the latest development in cannabis terpene research as you clicked the link to the article on Facebook—until you got the ominous ACCESS DENIED warning message instead. Oh no! My work network won’t let me access HIGHTIMES.com, what do I do?
Use a Web-Based Proxy Server
A web-based proxy server is probably the easiest solution to your problem. The easiest one to use that isn’t riddled with pop-up ads is anonymouse.org. Simply enter the website name into the field and Anonymouse will make it look like you have only visited their website, while they let you out the side door to wherever you want. Make sure to delete your recent history before leaving the computer so IT snoops don’t see you were on Anonymouse. (It’s smart to use the “private browsing”or “incognito” window for this.) Some filters will block you from accessing the web-based proxy, so you may need to use another method.
Use Ultrasurf Or Another Browser-Based VPN
Using a real virtual private network (VPN) that connects to an offsite proxy server is a more robust option than a web-based proxy server. Many browsers have add-ons for VPN proxy servers. Many of these services work just fine, but are only free for a trial period. Ultrasurf is simply an add-on to your browser (works best on Chrome), and it starts working as soon as you install it. Other free add-ons exist but, like we said, most only last during an initial trial period. Remove the add-on before you sign off.
Use the Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is a similar method to a private VPN, but much better and more secure. The Tor Network uses onion encryption that bounces traffic all over the world before popping out at a random location. The Tor Browser experiences the utmost privacy and anonymity. Drawbacks include the fact that the browser blocks all plugins and does not allow you to watch any video or audio content. Plus, it moves slower than the average internet connection. To use the Tor Browser, simply download and install it from www.torproject.org and follow the instructions. Uninstall Tor Browser before you sign off.
Run a Browser Off a Flash Drive
In some cases, the browsers on your work computer will not allow you to use any add-ons or won’t allow you to install software. In this case, you will have to use an outside browser that runs on a USB stick. First start by downloading Firefox Portable and installing it onto a flash drive. Grab the IP address and port number from a proxy server you like, and plug them into the manual proxy server settings menu.
Find this by going to Preferences > Advanced tab > Network tab > Settings > Manual proxy configuration.
The Tor Project also has a similar solution called Tails. Tails allows you to install a small, lightweight Linux-based operating system onto a flash drive or DVD that has the sole purpose of connecting to the Tor Network which allows you to browse anonymously.
This only works if your IT staff is incompetent. Most reporting packages allow you to see through proxies and tls connections (including so called browser based VPNs), the only thing they can usually bypass is domain-based or ip-based URL blacklist.
You also need to be extra careful using 3rd party sites and services to tunnel your traffic as they can inject malware into the data stream without your awareness. There are, in fact, TOR exit relays that are known to do exactly this. Another point, the TOR network is only secure if there are other nodes in your network segment also using TOR.
HIGHTIMES should stick to its area of expertise before they get their readers infected with malware or in other trouble while trying to use these solutions they may not understand.