I'm currently staying in a student residence on an university campus. The people in charge of the internet access of the whole campus would like to take over the students' network, which is at the moment administrated by a group of students.

This wouldn't be a problem, if they weren't going to put in place application filtering for the whole campus, for "security purposes".

As of now, we have to use a proxy to access the internet. Having some concerns for my privacy, I would like to use a VPN.

My questions are :

  1. In the context of an university campus, how can application filtering improve security ?

  2. Considering the net admin controls the proxy and is able to perform application filtering (DPI ?), would he be able to detect/block VPN traffic (even if it's running on server port 443) ?

  3. If yes, is there a better way to prevent this filtering ?

  1. It restricts what can run over the network and so reduces the possible attacks. The main reasons they would do this though aren't so much about security as to a) reduce bandwidth use by banning ToR, Torrents, streaming, etc. b) make life easier for the college by avoiding possible legal issues.
  2. Yes. Whether it would detect a VPN on port 443 is hard to determine but certainly there are filters/proxies that will. The pattern of traffic is different for a VPN than straight HTTPS. If you look back a week or so, you will see a very popular question that contains further information related to this.
  3. No. You can try to hide the fact that you are using a VPN which may or may not be successful. Or you could use a 4G/LTS mobile broadband connection.

Finally, here is my mandatory warning: If you try to bypass the security of the network, you will certainly be breaking the terms and conditions of use. Check the contract and your tenancy contract carefully as to possible consequences. In some countries, this might also be illegal.

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