Local proxy server Windows
Last month, I wrote about using OpenSSH as a secure Web proxy on UNIX and Linux systems. This time, I'll show you how to do the same thing on Microsoft Windows using PuTTY — probably the single most popular SSH client available for Microsoft's operating system platforms (and also available in the software management systems of many free UNIX/Linux systems).
As I pointed out in the previous article, Web access through public wireless networks can be dangerous because of the danger of malicious security crackers and would-be identity thieves listening in on your Web traffic. There are two very simple solutions to the problem:
- You can simply avoid engaging in any online activity that involves logins or other transmission of sensitive data — including e-mail addresses that you wish to protect from spammers and phishers.
- You can use an encrypted connection to a secure proxy on a network that you know to be better protected than the public wireless network you're using.
A proxy is another system through which some network travel can be forwarded, making it seem to the Internet as though the proxy server is the actual source of the network traffic. A direct encrypted connection between a laptop on an unsecured wireless network and a proxy server on a secured network that then relays HTTP requests to the Web can provide a much more secure connection for Web browsing than simply sending HTTP requests directly from the laptop through the wireless network to the Internet at large.
This article assumes you have installed PuTTY and the Mozilla Firefox Web browser on a Microsoft Windows laptop from which you wish to connect to a secure proxy. It also assumes that you have access to a computer at home or on another trusted network, running a BSD UNIX, Linux-based, or other UNIX-like operating system with OpenSSH installed, as described in the previous secure Web proxy article.
It also assumes that you have configured your trusted network to provide SSH access from outside the network. This often involves configuring port forwarding on your router and firewall, the specifics of which vary from one router/firewall to another.