This tutorial is aimed at Windows users and focuses on PuTTY as our SSH client of choice.
Are you stuck behind a firewall or looking to add some privacy to your browsing? Whenever I’m off my own network I fire up an SSH tunnel back to my own servers and send all my browsing information through it. Why? Because big brother may be watching, but I can bet you someone even worse is trying to. Also, it could be incriminating if people knew how often I was checking my 9th (out of 10) place Fantasy Football team stats.
When your browser (or other client) requests a webpage (or anything off the Internet) it sends a request from your computer through a series of routers, switches, firewalls, and servers owned and monitored by other people, companies, and ISPs until it reaches its destination, then follows the same (or similar) path back to your machine with the kitten pictures you asked for.
Tunneling bypasses some of the rules that these companies or ISPs may be enforcing on you by creating a direct, encrypted, connection to your tunnel server that can’t be easily peered into by prying eyes. This means that web pages that are blocked can be seen and passwords that are sent can’t be looked at.
For a much better definition, please see Wikipedia
There are other SSH clients and tools that are designed specifically for SSH tunneling and SOCKS proxying. I prefer this way because PuTTY also gives you an SSH client, which you should no doubt be in possession of anyways.
To utilize the tunnel to its full benefit, you need to set up a SOCKS proxy in your browser. Will describe how to use the FoxyProxy proxy switching plugin. It works for both FireFox and Chrome on Windows, which are really the only browsers you should be using.
So long as your PuTTY SSH connection remains connected your proxy tunnel will be open and you will be browsing the internet just as you had before, except without a lot of restrictions placed by firewalls and greater security.
As far as I understand it Chrome will automatically use your SOCKS proxy for DNS resolution, but Firefox doesn’t by default. This means that firewalls or DNS servers could still block requests to certain websites because they will refuse to tell your browser or client how to look the remote server up. FoxyProxy should fix this due to the installation steps we took, but it doesn’t guarantee that your IM messenger, other browsers, or other internet clients will be able to securely resolve DNS requests when using the SOCKS proxy. For more information on exactly what DNS is, browse over to Wikipedia
I recommend a 3rd party DNS service like OpenDNS to further enhance the safety, speed, and security of your DNS lookups. They can protect from malware and other bad things, but they can also provide you with a ‘less restricted’ internet.