VPN- Virtual Private Networks- Should secondary students be using them?

CIS raises money with a fun rum and a great talent show.

CIS raises money with a fun run with Nithin Tolani- Cancer Survivor.

I was truly surprised, when I googled this issue and found nothing.  No posts on explaining VPNs to students or to parents.  No posts on why it might not be recommended. Okay, I had better start at the beginning.

Students at CIS are downloading a VPN and then by passing our school’s websense filter.  This is not strictly against the iPad agreement, but is it Responsble Use.  The answer is No!

A VPN is allowing them to access apps and sites that our school’s firewall is blocking.

So what is a VPN?

http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/briefs/essential-guide-vpns

This answer from The Essential Guide to VPNs

Updated: April 30, 2009

VPNs (virtual private networks) aim to provide secure communications within distributed enterprises, among business partners, and between mobile workers and corporate IT resources.

VPNs make use of the public Internet, and for that reason, advocates view the technology as more cost-effective than dial-up networking — with its attendant phone-line costs — and dedicated WANs. To secure the VPN, an organization generally installs some form of gateway, a network device that manages a VPN’s connections. A gateway may consist of VPN software installed on a server or a specialized VPN appliance.

VPN Express– the App available on the App Store says this

WHAT IS IT?
VPN is a 128-bit encrypted tunnel between your device (computer, iPhone/iTouch/iPad) and one of our servers.

WHY HAVE A VPN ACCOUNT?
If you want a total Internet traffic anonymizing experience, a VPN account is the best way to go – there’s no IP numbers to configure into the webapps, and no software to install – just set up the VPN and it’s done! Other features include, but are not limited to:
-Bypass websites that are blocked in some countries/geographical regions.
-Bypass Skype and other VOIP blocked in your area or by your ISP.
-Grant access to restricted sites at work or at school even behind firewalls.
-Assigns your computer a new IP address, hides your real IP to anonymize all web applications.
-Security & anonymity with a secure encrypted connection between your computer and the Internet.
-Protect your wireless (Wi-Fi) connection at home or at public Hotspots.
-Virtual Firewall – Attacks are often directed at a known IP address.
-International Internet Users – ISPs or some countries would like to prevent users from enjoying the Internet, with a USA IP there are no controls!
-Unlike a proxy, you get secured connection for all programs you are using, (e.g ICQ, Email, FTP, News and anything that uses a Internet Connection)

Okay so, are VPNs illegal?  No, they are sometimes used for illegal activities.  Are VPNs allowed at your school?  Do I think CIS should allow VPN apps to run on their iPads during the classtime?  No! Please let me know.

Do I have a VPN? Yes, and I use it for Netflix.  Am I a hypocrite?  Probably…

What do you think?  How would you present VPNs to an audience of your parents?

Finally the largest number of articles on VPN were describing how to get around your school firewall and how to gain access to something that was restricted.  Some VPNs are free apps.   Please share your thought on VPNs, schools, and students.

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