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Why You Shouldn't Use Proxy Avoiders for Facebook

written by: •edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 7/6/2011

If you're looking for a proxy avoidance website for secretive use of Facebook in a work or educational environment, don't expect to find anything offering a reliably secure connection that you can trust...

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    Aha, I caught you! Looking for a way to access your Facebook account from work or college, were you? Well, as you probably know, there are ways of circumventing website blocking, but you should also know that it is just as easy to block proxies, the types of site that make it easy to view a website that has been restricted by the organization’s IT policy.

    However, you probably knew this already, given that you’ve been searching for a very specific type of utility for avoiding website blocking. The majority of services that provide proxy access to websites do so in a non-secure manner, which means that any passwords you share or conversations that you have are not encrypted. This means that when messages are transmitted, they can be intercepted – a clear security risk.

    For instance, if you were accessing a Facebook account through a proxy avoidance site that doesn’t offer a secure connection (denoted by the HTTPS portion of the website’s URL) then there is every chance that the information that you use to access the account could be detected by the very same people that you are intending to fool by using the avoidance site in the first place.

    Sadly, however, there is no way to unblock Facebook with a HTTPS secure connection, simply because Facebook uses HTTP, although encrypted alternatives do exist.

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    Using UnblockBook

    Facebook as viewed through UnblockBook Getting a secure connection for Facebook isn’t possible, but encrypting any data that you send and receive is, if you take advantage of a secure proxy, such as UnblockBook.biz.

    This website works in a very simple way – a large field is provided for you to input your intended URL, and with a tap of the Enter key you will be taken to the required online destination. Facebook, as the name of the site suggests, is the most popular target URL, and once signed in you will be able to spot that the website is sending encrypted data. You can see this by just looking at the address bar in your browser – rather than the standard www.facebook.com, the URL will be followed by a long string of seemingly random characters.

    Note, however, that the use of any proxy avoidance website is not recommended, for the reasons that I will explain below.

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    Hang on - Just How Secure is a Secure Proxy?

    Facebook does not use HTTPS While UnblockBook and any similar proxy avoidance services are operating based on the principle of security, the fact of the matter is that this cannot be guaranteed. HTTPS in Facebook isn’t available via these services any more than it is in the genuine site, but many proxy avoidance sites – such as UnblockBook – do offer encryption which will at the very least deliver you some protection from any person or department that might be interested in your activity.

    However, there is something here that you may have missed: by using a proxy avoidance system as a means of attainting the best alternative to HTTPS for Facebook or any other site you wish to unblock, you’re opening your passwords and other personal data to misuse.

    There is no guarantee that UnblockBook, or any of the similar services (and a quick check reveals that at the very least they use the same script to provide the “encrypted” proxy avoidance), are not secretly storing any of the data that you are inputting. Without a genuine secure connection provided by HTTPS, all that you can be certain of is a string of characters sitting at the end of the URL.

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    Facebook and HTTPS – The Truth

    Of course, while your login is kept secure when using Facebook, little else is. Perhaps it is down to the sheer number of users and the configuration of the services, but things like chat, gaming and messaging don’t take place across a secure connection.

    This will come as a surprise, but even signing into Facebook avoids using HTTPS by default. Even forcing other pages of the service to use HTTPS (by altering the "HTTP" portion of the address) defaults back to the standard HTTP page.

    HTTPS is the version of the standard Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol that uses SSL (secure socket layer) for private data transactions, and is used successfully by Amazon and PayPal, as well as various online banking systems and many other websites, and is a key element in the fight against data theft.

    So why doesn’t Facebook employ the system more widely?

    Until this question is addressed, however, the usual rules about using the service apply – don’t share any useful, identifiable information, don’t use the same password as you use for any other services and most of all don’t use Facebook and expect security from HTTP packet sniffers that can read unencrypted data.

    In fact, unless you’re able to guarantee that your Facebook connection is safe and secure, you should seriously consider not using the service at all.

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    References

    Author's own experience.

    Screenshots provided by author.