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Survey results on Anonymous Proxies released by Bloxx

Bloxx : 15 January, 2009  (Technical Article)
Concerns remain high among IT Managers regarding the use of Anonymising Proxies particularly in education and private sector enterprises
Bloxx, the web content filtering specialist, today announced the results of its independent Anonymous Proxy Survey, which reveals that an alarming 90% of IT Managers in the educational sector view anonymous proxies to be a problem, compared with 51% in the private sector. This is Bloxx's second Anonymous Proxy Survey, which aims to investigate the impact of anonymisers on over 200 education and private sector organisations.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Bloxx web site.

Anonymous proxies are the easiest and most popular way for users to bypass an organisation's Internet filtering. Once connected to an anonymous proxy, users can surf any website completely unmonitored, even if the site should have been blocked by the organisation's web filter.

Bloxx's survey reveals that 64% of IT managers in the education sector view anonymous proxies as a security threat, and 34% consider them to be a serious problem. Whilst this figure is slightly less for IT teams in the private sector - at 46% - 12% of the respondents remain unsure, indicating a possible lack of knowledge concerning the use of anonymous proxies in this sector.

"The volume and easy availability of Anonymous Proxy sites has increased dramatically over the past few years and many hundreds are now created each week," warns Bloxx CEO, Eamonn Doyle. "More and more people, particularly students, are using them as a means to surf the Internet free from the restrictions of Internet filtering, oblivious to the security risks associated with this."

"Furthermore, blocking them using traditional web filters - which rely heavily on URL lists - is simply no longer effective," continues Doyle. "Worryingly, our survey suggests that the proxy problem has not improved compared with last year, particularly in the private sector."

The Bloxx survey revealed that 65% of IT managers in the private sector and 47% in education admit to spending the same amount of time as last year dealing with anonymous proxies. The results also show that education IT teams spend more time resolving problems caused by anonymous proxies than their private sector counterparts, with 41% allocating between one and four hours a week.

"Typically, students are very tech-savvy and are more determined to find ways around web filters," says Doyle. "The results of our survey reiterate the higher prevalence of anonymous proxies in education and highlight the huge potential risk that students can all too easily view inappropriate or nasty content."

Anonymous proxies can cause a variety of issues for organisations, yet concerns seem to vary depending on the sector. The private sector is primarily concerned with Acceptable Use Policy violation and lost productivity, as well as threats to network security and data leakage. In the education sector, issues such as child protection, avoiding the exposure of students to inappropriate online material, and the prevention of bullying are of high importance. However, unfiltered access to social networking sites and impact on bandwidth usage is an issue for both the private and education sector.

"IT managers in education seem to be more aware of the issue of anonymous proxies, compared with those in the private sector," adds CEO, Eamonn Doyle. "However, it is vital that organisations across the board remain vigilant about their use in order to ensure the protection of their networks, as well as their users."

"To adopt an effective strategy against anonymous proxies, there are several measures that organisations can take," advises Doyle. "Organisations need to deploy a sophisticated web filtering solution that can track and block anonymous proxies in real-time, alongside a clear and well enforced Internet Acceptable Usage Policy."

Bloxx Tru-View Technology is a third generation filtering solution that conducts live contextual analyses to rapidly classify web traffic in real time. With respect to anonymous proxies, the technology not only looks for common words and phrases, but for code structures characteristic of such sites. It then analyses the relationships between these elements to build levels of classification confidence. If the level rises above a specified threshold, Tru-View Technology will block the web page, even if no one in the organisation had previously visited it.
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