Access Denied

February 20, 2004

For the past year or so I have enjoyed having my PowerBook at work, especially since I was able to plug it into the LAN there and have full internet access. Through the magic of DHCP it was assigned an IP address, and thanks to my knowledge of an open HTTP proxy, I was able to surf the web, exchange chat messages, and generally enjoy the Internet.

The open proxy existed to allow a federally funded group to have access to the Internet through the State's network infrastructure without resorting to creating IDs on the LAN for them. Apparently the agency has finally gotten around to addressing this hole in the network. Either they are filtering access to the proxy by IP address (unlikely given the randomness inherit in DHCP managed networks) or they are doing it by network login ID. Either way the result is the same, I've been cut off.

Now I do have Internet access via my agency assigned ID, but that access is highly monitored for "appropriateness" and people have been terminated for inappropriate usage. So other than a few technical sites directly related to my assignment here, I tend not to use that access path. I dislike and resent the whole "big brother" approach but I don't want to lose my job through civil disobedience. Knowing about the open proxy allowed me to expand the list of sites and services available to myself without exposure to the draconian access policy in effect.

I have mixed feelings about the new tighter network at work. On the one hand, as someone who is concerned about network security, I appreciate their attention to detail and desire to protect their infrastructure. On the other hand, as a strong advocate of individual freedom and responsibility I don't appreciate the punitive and restrictive approach to Internet access taken by this agency. In my opinion, taking a "father knows best, big brother is watching" approach places the employees in the role of errant child. People will rise to the level they are allowed, treat them like children and you'll get children. Allow them to be responsible adults and you'll get responsible adults.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.