Advice on managing student's exposure to proxy servers


#1

I want to refer students to http://whatismyipaddress.com/ because I think they could learn a lot about what their IP address reveals and how people work around that. However, if they follow some of the links, they may learn ways to circumvent the school’s Internet filters (e.g. through proxy servers). On the other hand, some students already know about things like proxy servers. My thought was to have students visit this site and report back what they found (I’d have a worksheet to keep it structured). Does anyone have any experience this site or something similar? It feels like this course should expose students to this but it could backfire.


Discuss how censorship is avoided/implemented
#2

I’d like to address how censorship is implemented, in a slightly technical way, and how people avoid it. For example, an authority blocks a website by forcing the ISP to filter out those messages. People get around it by using a proxy server or VPN. But if we discuss that, clever students will see that they can use those tools to get around the school filters (censorship). Or perhaps parental controls (my kids are grown and I don’t know what, if anything today’s parents might use).

It seems very relevant but perhaps a minefield that I don’t want to enter with high school kids. Thoughts?


#3

I struggle with this too. I have a student who is OBSESSED with hacking. He’s hoping that after this class, he will be able to “hack” all sorts of systems. He is a good kid overall, but I also don’t think he gets that what he is doing is a crime.

I have talked about the difference between “white hat” and “black hat” hackers but he is still really curious about it. I am hoping to get him plugged into some competitions at our local college so he can see how those skills can be used for good.

Personally, I think you could anchor this in a discussion of ethics when it comes to CS. CSP is supposed to show how CS is every where, and you just identified a key “white space” for kids. Connected to the ethical (and legal) ramifications of censorship, I think you have a good argument for doing this with students. I don’t think we can say “ignorance is bliss” here… I personally like the idea! I could even see tying this to a guest speaker about censorship etc…

I’d love to hear how it goes!


#4

There are positives and negatives about discovery and exposure in the classroom. The website does provide great content for discussion. However, I think we need to be mindful of the execution chosen for exploration and discovery. It is good for our students to be knowledge about the deeper parts of IP protocols and how VPNs work. It’s also important for them to know the pros and cons for using VPNs. Our information and vulnerability is tied to the privacy policy of the VPN provider. For students interested in hacking, I have meaningful discussions with them outlining the consequences of destructive and ethical hacking. Students tend to make better decisions when they have a wealth of information. I like the idea of a guest speaker. Having someone from industry speak on privacy, ethical hacking and censorship can have a profound effect on our students.