Despite fewer restrictions, VPNs still remain popular

Virtual Private Networks used to bypass school WiFi

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In light of the recent technology restrictions in adviseries (as well as classes), students at both campuses have been installing VPNs to ensure personal freedoms on their devices.
A VPN or Virtual Private Network overrides the school’s WiFi filters on apps such as Fortnite Mobile, Instagram, and Snapchat. VPNs replace the IP address connected to the device with the outside providers system.

Remote access VPNs use the information typed into the device, where it’s converted to skip over the screens, and is then formatted back to its original form. Site-to-site VPNs are designed to encrypt the data so that it remains virtually undetectable.

While students who use VPNs claim they view the same content they would outside of school, the firewall technology has posed a very serious debate between students and administration when it comes to exploring the limits of censorship during school hours.

“I used VPNs to play video games and go on Instagram, but mainly because of Fortnite,” said one junior who asked to remain anonymous.

Aside from the convenience of accessing media that would otherwise be blocked, the fact remains that VPNs are still an unreliable.

The junior also added, “I bought the first one that came up on the app store, but I have heard of people getting viruses by downloading them.”

While some download the software simply to access their favorite games, the activity of other VPN users raises far greater concern for the school.

“I use VPNs for downloading movies I couldn’t get otherwise,” stated a sophomore who also wished to remain anonymous. “My parents are programmers, and if you use a sketchy VPN it’s probably dangerous, but if you’re using an actual [paid] VPN it’s fine.”

Chief Technology Director, Stephanie Helfand said, “It’s our job to ensure that we as a school are complying by putting systems in place so that students are safe, secure, and unable to access inappropriate material online.”

Helfand said that every student agrees to not bypass school security filters in the acceptable usage policy they sign at the beginning of freshman year at the iPad orientation, “VPNs have been an issue for a number of years. We really see a full scale of misconduct. However the student assumes legal responsibility for anything done on a VPN as they chose to circumvent the system.”

Students who choose to use a VPN often see the real life dangers that VPNs can cause, such as compromised personal information. “I usually pick a random server online,” said senior Peder Albertson, “Some require a premium, but there is a chance they could collect credit card information.”

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