In the era of technology, almost every school or workplace has adopted a firewall. This ensures that students or instructors do not visit harmful sites, preventing them from possible phishing attacks or other forms of cyber threats.
Generally, institutions block inappropriate sites that do not comply with their Acceptable Use Policies. However, some schools and colleges can do this to ensure that their students do not play games or surf the internet (for entertainment) so they remain focused on their studies.
Indeed, there can be times when you absolutely need to visit these sites for personal reasons. Well, you’d be surprised to know that bypassing a firewall is possible, but we only recommend doing this at your own risk.
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Is It Safe to Bypass Firewalls?
Your school may adopt a hardware (physical device) or software (computer application) firewall for privacy, cyber safety, or efficiency. These security systems monitor the network traffic and analyze them based on the protocols.
Basically, it checks whether the site you’re trying to access is authorized and blocks those data packets that do not meet the security rules. However, the security level differs based on your institution’s firewall type (packet filtering, circuit level, etc.).
Usually, schools do not have the time and budget to focus solely on cybersecurity. Thus, the firewalls they use may have vulnerabilities, and one can easily get through them using suitable methodologies.
However, if you’re using such techniques to access sensitive or restricted content, the school may fine you or even take legal action. Nonetheless, bypassing can be considered safe if you have no unethical intentions and you’re doing it from your own device for personal use.
How to Bypass a School Firewall?
First and foremost, you should be aware that schools and offices set up firewalls to prevent sensitive information from malware or hackers. Thus, they do not intend to harm your privacy in any way and only mean to preserve it from cyber threats.
Hence, if you have valid reasons for accessing the blocked sites, taking permission from the administration is always recommended. Since configuring the firewall settings just for a single person may seem inapplicable, they might allow you to bypass it legally.
Before moving forward, try disabling the firewall on your computer. For example, in a Windows-based PC, you can turn off the Windows Defender Firewall from Control Panel. Likewise, you can launch Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and disable any third-party firewall process.
If the above methods didn’t help, let’s jump right into the nine different ways to get through a firewall at your school, college, or workplace.
A virtual Private Network (VPN) establishes a secure connection and ensures protection when you’re on a public network. Basically, it disguises your online identity (IP address) and encrypts network traffic preventing you from various online threats.
Once you’ve enabled VPN on your device, your location is invisible to everyone. This means that even your school’s firewall won’t be able to monitor the network traffic. Hence, you can easily access any site you want without any fuss.
Most users prefer third-party VPN applications like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, NordVPN, etc. Well, some of these programs require premium service, while others are available for free. To use them, all you have to do is install them on the PC and select an appropriate server location.
Likewise, specific web browsers (e.g., Opera) provide an in-built VPN application with a no-logging policy. However, you need to install VPN extensions or plugins on other browsers (like Google Chrome and Firefox). Moreover, if you’re trying to bypass the firewall using your smartphone, you can easily install a reliable VPN service from Play Store or App Store.
Instead of opting for a third-party application, you can also use built-in VPN settings on your mobile phone or Windows-based PC.
The in-built Windows VPN is quite famous for its P2P filesharing and streaming. Follow the simple guide below on how you can set up a VPN on Windows 11:
- Press Windows + I to open Settings on your PC, and move to Network & internet > VPN.
- Click on the Add VPN button in VPN Connections.
- Once the dialogue box pops up, set VPN Provider to Windows (built-in).
- Next, input any name under the Connection name.
- Then, enter the IP address of the destination VPN server you’re trying to connect to. Well, you can refer to the internet for free server names or addresses.
- Expand the VPN type drop-down and select the one you like. Else, you can set it to the default option (Automatic).
- You can set a username or password, but this is optional. Once done, press the Save option.
- Now, you’ll see the connection you’ve just created. Simply press the Connect button.
- Then, you’ll need to enter your Windows Security (Microsoft Account) username and password.
- Finally, hit enter and wait until the VPN connection is established.
Well, the built-in Android VPN adopts PPTP, L2TP and IPSec protocols for secure connections. Here’s how you can add a VPN profile on your device:
- First of all, open the Settings app and move to the Connections section.
- Here, select More connection settings.
- Then, press VPN.
- Now, tap the kebab menu and select Add VPN Profile.
- Next, input your desired name and select the type.
- Then, find an appropriate server’s IP address and paste it under the Server address.
- Tap the Save button, and you’ll see the VPN profile you just created.
- Now, select the profile and enter your credentials. Wait for several seconds until you’re connected to the destination server.
As in an Android device, setting up a VPN profile is relatively easy on iOS devices. Here’s how you can do just that:
- Launch Settings and switch to the General tab.
- Scroll down and tap the VPN & Device Management option.
- Next, select VPN.
- Now, press the Add VPN Configuration option.
- In the new window, choose the type of VPN you will use to bypass a school’s firewall.
- Then, add the description, find an appropriate server (IP address), and also input the Remote ID.
- Under Authentication, choose your username and password.
- Next, set the Proxy to Auto.
Otherwise, you can also set it to Manual and use the correct server and port.
- Tap the Done button from the top-right corner.
- Once the configuration is saved, toggle on the Status option, and you should be connected to the VPN server.
Use Proxy Server
If your school has disabled VPN servers, another way to bypass the firewall is to connect to a proxy server. Basically, this acts as an intermediary between your school’s PC and the web server you’re trying to access.
Generally, when accessing a blocked site, the firewall recognizes the URL and prevents users from accessing its content. However, with the integration of a proxy server, it will understand that the user is simply accessing the proxy server’s URL, not the URL of the blocked site.
For example, if you’re trying to use Netflix (suppose it’s blocked by your school), you’ll first send the URL request to the proxy server. Now, the proxy server loads the necessary content, and you’ll be able to access Netflix. However, the firewall understands that you have been accessing the content of the proxy URL all the time.
Well, there are free proxy servers available on the web, but using them could expose you to malware, and there’s a probability that they may monitor your network traffic. Thus, we recommend opting for premium services that bypass geo-restrictions and provide faster speeds.
In this section, you will learn the step-by-step guide on setting up proxy servers on your PC and smartphone.
On Windows, you can easily set up a proxy server for your WiFi and ethernet connections. Kindly follow the below steps to do this correctly:
- First of all, open Settings and switch to the Network & internet tab.
- Find and select Proxy.
- Under Automatic Proxy setup, click on the Set up button.
- Once a new window pops up, toggle on the Use setup script option.
- Then, input the appropriate Script Address and press Save.
Note: You can also manually set up a proxy server. However, you’ll require the proxy’s IP address and port number for a successful connection.
In Android devices, you can set up a proxy for your WiFi connection. Here’s a simple workaround on how to do it:
- Pull down the status bar on your Android device.
- Press and hold the WiFi icon to open the WiFi Connections window.
- Next to your current network, tap the settings icon.
- Expand the Advanced option.
- Choose Proxy and set it to either Manual or Auto-Config. If you’ve selected Manual, input the Proxy Host Name, Proxy Port, and Bypass Proxy for the address you’re trying to access.
Likewise, you’ll need to input the PAC web address for the Auto-config option.
- Finally, hit the Save button and try accessing the blocked site to confirm it’s working.
As in Android settings, you can also set up a proxy server for your WiFi connection on an iOS device, and here’s exactly how:
- Open Settings and go to Wi-Fi.
- Then, press the information symbol right next to your current network.
- Under HTTP Proxy, choose Configure Proxy.
- Change this setting to Manual or Automatic. For Manual, type the Server and Port’s name.
And for Automatic, directly input the URL you’re trying to access.
- Finally, hit the Save button and check the result.
Directly Use the Website’s IP Address
While most firewalls directly track the IP address, there can be some that block the domain names. In such a case, you can directly input the desired website’s IP address, which should bypass your school’s firewall and show the content.
Since memorizing each website’s address is quite impossible, we recommend using any online tool to get their IP address in no time. Please follow the below instructions to learn how to bypass the domain name blocks:
- Search and launch an online tool that shows the IP address of a particular website.
- Then, paste the blocked site’s URL and press the Lookup, Search, or a similar button.
- Now, you should get the site’s ipv4 and ipv6 addresses.
- Copy either of them and paste it into your browser’s address bar.
- Hit Enter, and you should be able to access the site.
Try URL Shortner
Similarly, you can also use an online tool to shorten your URL, bypassing the domain name blocks. Basically, this will convert the domain name to a shorter version that’s easy to remember and fool the school’s firewall that tracks the domain names instead of IP addresses:
- Open any online tool that will help you shorten the URL.
- Copy and paste the site’s actual web address and hit the Shorten button.
- You’ll likely get the short URL on the next page.
- Now, copy it and run it on your web browser.
You should be able to access the site if the firewall is successfully bypassed.
Use Google Translate as Proxy Server
Interestingly, Google Translate can also act as a proxy server and help you bypass the school firewall.
Basically, the machine translation service translates the domain into its own server and displays the content using a different URL. While we are able to access the site on Google Translate, the firewall understands that we are using the latter’s URL.
For demonstration, let’s try to run Facebook using Google Translate on a school network where the site remains blocked:
- Firstly, launch the Google Translate official page.
- Now, select any language other than English. In fact, you can even leave it to Detect Language.
- Then, simply type
facebook.comand press the translate icon.
You can enter your desired domain instead of the one we’ve used.
- Once the translation is complete, the service provides you with a link. Click on it, and you should be taken to Facebook’s login page. While you’re at it, check the URL on the address bar, and you’ll notice the difference.
Using Privacy-focused Web Browsers
While most web browsers allow firewalls to monitor your traffic, some privacy-focused ones prevent and protect your network traffic. They do so by disabling or blocking any privacy-invading ads and trackers that may even slow down your browser.
For example, Brave supports the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) protocol, allowing users to access decentralized or censored websites. Likewise, other privacy-concerned browsers include DuckDuckGo, Tor, Onion, etc.
Furthermore, Tor is one of the few browsers that defends against surveillance. Moreover, users’ network traffic is encrypted three times, letting you access every site without any fuss.
However, this may not apply to your school’s computer as some institutions forbid downloading new browsers or programs. Nonetheless, you can use the Tor browser on your own device without any trouble. Unfortunately, it is unavailable on iOS, and we recommend using Onion, a free and open-source Tor-powered browser.
But if you need one on the school’s computer, you can directly install the browser on an SD card or flash drive from your home. Once that’s done, plug it into the computer the next day, and you’ll be able to run the browser straight from it.
Using Alternate Smart DNS Server
Whenever a user tries accessing a website using the domain name, the DNS server translates these names into IP addresses. Basically, this is how the host’s computer is able to communicate with the web server.
However, a school firewall blocks a specific domain name, preventing you from accessing that site. Thus, changing the DNS server is best to see if this helps bypass the firewall.
Since this method may not always work, we recommend using an alternate smart DNS server with the inclusion of both the DNS and proxy server. By adopting this technology, you will even be able to access geo-blocked content by tricking the firewall.
Regarding the same, this section will assist you in using the alternate smart DNS server on both your PC and smartphone.
On Windows-based computers, you can change the preferred and alternative DNS settings to bypass your school’s firewall:
- Press Windows + R and run the below command to launch Control Panel:
- Here, select Network and Internet.
- Next, switch to Network and Sharing Center.
- From the left pane of the Control Panel window, press Change adapter settings.
- After the Network Connections window opens, right-click on your current connection and choose Properties.
- Then, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) or Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) and tap the Properties button.
- Next, select Use the following DNS server addresses, and replace both the Preferred DNS Server and Alternate DNS Server.
- Finally, hit Ok, and you should be able to access the blocked website.
If you’re on a cell phone, implementing the smart DNS server is equally easy as on a desktop or laptop computer. Go through the following guide to adopt this using simple steps:
- In the Settings application, move to the Connections window.
- Now, go to More connection settings.
- Here, tap the Private DNS option.
- Now, set it to Automatic (if it’s Off) and press Save.
Else, provide a private DNS provider’s hostname and hit Save.
On your iOS devices, you can easily configure a manual DNS using the below process:
- Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
- Here, tap the information or the ‘i’ symbol.
- Under DNS, choose Configure DNS.
- Then, set the option to Manual and delete any DNS server available.
- Next, select Add Server and input an appropriate DNS.
- Here, input an appropriate DNS.
- Finally, tap the Save button and see if the blocked website is now working.
Using Remote Desktop Connection
The Remote Desktop Connection feature allows you to connect a local computer (e.g., your school’s PC) with a remote PC (e.g., your home computer). This way, the firewall will regard the connection as a valid website, and you can easily access any website you want.
However, you’ll need to ensure that your home PC is up and running. Now, follow the general steps to connect it to your school’s computer:
- Use the Instant Search feature to launch Remote Desktop Connection.
- Here, input the valid name of the remote computer and hit Connect.
- This will eventually sign off the account on your remote PC and display the content on your local computer.
Switch to a Different Network
If none of the aforementioned methods seem ideal, it’s always best to use other networks if available. Moreover, you can use your mobile data to access the desired websites if you have your smartphone at school.
Interestingly, you can even enable your mobile hotspot and connect it to the school’s PC. This way, you do not even have to worry about the school policies. Additionally, no firewall will prevent you from accessing your desired sites.