Home > Blogs > How to Browse the Web Privately Using a Secure SSH SOCKS Tunnel

There are times when you want to browse the web but you want to do it privately, without being traced. Sure, you could go ahead and utilize the incognito feature built into most major web browsers however to truly browse in anonymity, there is nothing better than utilizing a secure SSH SOCKS Tunnel. In this quick "how-to", we are going to show you how to set up a secure SSH Socks Tunnel enabling you to route all your web traffic through your host.  

SSH Socks Tunnel Protocol

Before you can open a secure SSH Socks Tunnel, you are going to need to download a software called PuTTY and understand what web server/host you will route traffic through. PuTTY "is a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Windows and Unix platforms, along with an xterm terminal emulator." The current version of PuTTY is 0.63. Follow this link to download PuTTY. Once you have PuTTY downloaded, follow these directions.

  1. Open PuTTY
  2. Click the "plus sign" located adjacent to the SSH drop down.
  3. In the SSH drop down menu, select Tunnels
  4. Under the section labeled Add new forwarded port, enter 1080. Push the add button. This will set your source port.
  5. Under the label destination, leave the entry field blank. Next, select dynamic and auto.

PuTTY Setup SSH Socks Tunnel 

  1. Next, scroll to the top of the drop down tree on the left side of the PuTTY dashboard. Select Session
  2. Set your hostname to the server of your choice. This server might be your web hosting company server or a server you privately set up.
  3. To save your progress, under the label Saved Sessions, enter a name of your choosing. Select Save

PuTTY Setup SSH Socks Tunnel Hostname 

Finally, double click on your saved session name. You will be shown a pop up box for SSH login to your server of choice. Once you log in, your secure SSH Socks Tunnel has been established. To use the secure tunnel, the next and last item you need to take care of is setting up your web browser to use the tunnel.

Firefox SSH Socks Tunneling

Please note, I am currently using Firefox version 35.0 released on January 13, 2015. While these instructions are applicable to the most current version of Firefox, they can be utilized for most versions of Firefox.

  1. Click the three lined button on the top left corner of your open Firefox window. In older versions of the browser, the button is a Firefox symbol.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Select Advanced.
  4. Select the Network tab.
  5. Nested under the Connection label, select Settings.
  6. When the new window opens, select Manual Proxy Configurations.
  7. Next to the label SOCKS Host, enter localhost. Additionally, for Port settings, enter 1080.

Your all set to rock and roll. With PuTTY set up and Firefox set up to utilize the PuTTY protocol, your ready to use the secure SSH Socks tunnel. To confirm the tunnel is working properly, head to www.whatismyip.com. The IP shown should be the IP address of your given server which you are routing traffic through.

Now you can enjoy truly anonymous web browsing through your host of choice.

For more great security networking and browsing content, check out InformIT Security.

Remember, if you like this content and want to chat about it, you can reach me at the following social spaces:

  1. Twitter: @bleibowi
  2. Linkedin: Brad Yale
  3. Google +: Brad Yale

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