Mar

4

A Very Special AskBwog: Can Juicycampus Really Be Blocked?

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In light of CCSC’s recent crusade against juicycampus.com, Bwog wanted to know if it were really possible to ban a website from the campus server. Apparently, it’s not. Resident computer expert and Bwog Web Master Zach van Schouwen explains why in the following bullet-pointed list:

  • It’s expensive. They don’t have an existing filter in place, so they’d have to buy expensive, unreliable software
  • We’re all forgetting the masterminds of SEAS. It would be approximately 30 seconds before any SEAS hack had a mirror of the site up that was accessible at a different address
  • Proxy server. Let’s say you’re visiting Juicycampus. Normally your PC sends them a request, and they send back a website. A site blocker would prevent this request from going through. A proxy server is just a third-party server that you make the same request to; it then makes the request to Juicycampus and sends you the results. This can all be encrypted, too, in which case there’s no way for even a smart CU programmer to know what you’re doing.
  • Google cache. You can get to any blocked site by looking at Google’s saved copy. Nobody ever thinks of this. (There are other sites like this too.)
  • Tunneling out. If you have login access to any off-campus server, anywhere, you can easily log into it remotely and view the site. (Like, say, the Bwog server.)
  • Mirroring. Juicycampus can just change their address, put up a mirror site, identify themselves numerically…
  • Copying. Some intrepid kid could just create a site that copies all their content every five minutes.
  • CUIT’s never made a practice of it, so it’d be pretty shocking if they shelled out the $1000s for a commercial-grade filter, slowed down everyone’s internet, and blocked a single site. Liberty University probably wouldn’t even do this, let alone… any real university.

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24 Comments

  1. CUIT NetOps Intern  

    Yeah...this is a joke. CCSC should get someone who knows jack shit about computers or the internet before they go off banning websites.

  2. Hannah

    I hadn't heard of juicycampus until the post on Bwog the other day, so I just took the opportunity to see what all of the fuss is about. Man! That is one boring website!!! It's not really juicy, or salacious at all and most of those posts seem like they're only relevant to a tiny portion of the columbia population. I don't get it. Why are people so upset?

    • tiny portion  

      The reason people are upset and want to ban the site is because they are that tiny portion. The Sunday CCSC meeting consisted of free speech advocates against the ban and sorority girls for it. These are the people who are affected by the site so they want it away. A bit hard to make an unbiased decision about something when that something is calling you the biggest slut on campus who has done lines of coke off all the the football player's dicks or whatever other absurd things the posts on that site say.

  3. ...  

    banning websites: bad.

    flooding them with so much crap that they become unusable: funny.

  4. actually  

    Actually, you can't find juicycampus information in Google's cache, because juicycampus isn't indexed. (Robots.txt + all content retrieved via javascript)

    But that's why banning the site is such a bad idea. If juicycampus was somehow cut off, who's to say similar information won't show up elsewhere? It's much better to have the information on a website that won't randomly show up when employers Google your name.

    The response that employers can find that information if they know where to look is not very powerful.

    1 - Not all employers will know where to look
    2 - Anyone who thinks to look at juicycampus will know to take the information with a grain of salt. A person randomly discovering information on Google might not.

    But congratulations to ban advocates. You've managed to draw more attention to the site than it would have otherwise received.

  5. one other thing  

    If by the cache technique you just meant getting to an otherwise blocked form, that doesn't always work. At least in my high school, you could get to the front page of Facebook via the cache, but any attempt to login failed.

    (Yes the front page of juicycampus shows up in the cache, I meant the content inside)

  6. Ron Gejman  

    I'm not sure #1 is correct. Columbia has border routers and I'm sure those routers already do funky things like block malformed packets, re-route internal Columbia IPs back inwards etc. They may easily be able to block all inbound and outbound requests to a certain IP address.

    The software that Zach is alluding too is probably content-searching, such as what what http://www.narus.com/ sells. Blocking an ip address or a range of them would likely be trivial.

    • ron  

      is correct. if columbia wanted to, say, throttle bittorrent traffic, that would be hard. if it wanted to look for keywords and ban them like China does, that would be hard. blocking one ip is easy - it's just doesnt actually make a site inaccessible, as the rest of the post points out.

  7. well  

    Someone could still create a range of proxies I think?

    • ZvS  

      Yeah, #8-11 are all correct. (#7 -- I've never seen the site myself, and didn't realize there was a robots file; so, yeah, Cache won't work.) However, I'd be *really* shocked if Columbia modified its standing routing configuration on the border routers; I can't imagine that anyone at CUIT would feel that was appropriate.

      Although I disagree with #10 on one thing -- throttling BitTorrent traffic isn't all that hard, because the packets can be identified and discarded on their headers alone. I know of a few universities that do just that, since port-blocking isn't very functional.

  8. Oh Zach!  

    You can throttle my BitTorrent traffic anytime. And it will be hard.

  9. Ron Gejman  

    *shrug*
    Just for clarity's sake, garden-variety bittorrent clients can be filtered with some non-firewall softeare, but encrypted bittorrent messages cannot be filtered. Encryption is available on many (at least all the best) bittorrent clients.

  10. Juicy

    Comments about Michelle have gotten nastier and more common since her infamous e-mail followed by the ever important CCSC meeting. I hate to say this, but she brought this on herself.

  11. does the site  

    in any way control who has access? Some of the posts for Columbia are so utterly degenerate they could not have possibly come from here. I mean, I used to read [email protected] once in a while, but these things look like they were written by failing HS kids.

  12. this one  

    [From the Feb 27th CCSC weekly email]

    [...]

    And it may or may not be my place to say this, but if you’re posting
    on the website that advertises “juicy” campus gossip, please keep in
    mind that this can be incredibly hurtful to people. While I hope
    everyone recognizes that these posts are nothing more than spiteful
    and unwarranted, they are still really bothering to people and they
    really need to stop. At our Council meeting this Sunday, we will
    be discussing what action we can take to have this site banned from
    the Columbia server. (I am not including the url or title because I
    do not want to help spread this trash anymore than it’s already
    spread).

    So to avoid ending this email on such a sour note, check out all the
    awesome events taking place on campus this week! As always, feel
    free to email or call me if there is anything the Council can do to
    make your lives better!

    Yours,
    Michelle

    [List of events/etc...]

  13. Yeah...  

    It might be asinine to throw your political muscle behind an effort to censor a site that's making fun of you.

    Michelle Diamond is not the person I want controlling what I can see on the Internet. Haven't all the parables and dystopian novels about banned books and censorship taught a lesson by now?

    Get your shit together, CCSC.

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