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Circumvention Tools

CircumventionTools: InstallingAWebProxy

Installing a Web Proxy

Installation of Web-based circumvention software can require some technical expertise and resources (a compatible Web server and sufficient bandwidth).

There are two categories of Web proxies: private and public. With a private Web proxy, the location is only made known to the intended users; public Web proxies are available to anyone interested or to anyone able to locate them. Public Web proxies and anonymity services may be known to both users and those implementing filtering, so they are more vulnerable to blacklisting. The chances of private Web proxies being detected and blocked are lower than those of public circumvention services.

Private Web proxies can be set up with some level of customization tailored to the specific needs of the end user. Common customizations would include changing the port number that the Web server runs on and implementing encryption like SSL. Since some blacklists may block keywords associated with popular proxy software, changing items like the default URL, the name of the script, or elements of the user interface can also reduce the risk of automated detection and blocking of the proxy.

When using SSL, it's also useful to create an innocuous Web page at the root of the Web server and conceal the Web proxy with a random path and file name. Although intermediaries may be able to determine the server you are connecting to, they will not be able to determine the requested path because that part of the request is encrypted. For example, if a user connects to https://example.com/secretproxy/, an intermediary will be able to determine that the user connected to example.com but they will not know that the user requested the Web proxy. (If the Web proxy operator places an innocuous page at example.com, then the Web proxy is less likely to be discovered by monitoring network transmissions.)

Here are some popular Web proxy programs:

  • CGIProxy: A CGI script that acts as both an HTTP and an FTP proxy.

  • Peacefire's Circumventor: An automated installer program that makes it much easier
         for non-technical users to install and configure CGIProxy on a Windows machine.

  • PHProxy: A PHP script that acts as both an HTTP and an FTP proxy.

  • Psiphon: An automated installer program that makes it much easier
         for non-technical users to install and configure PHProxy on a Windows machine.

Private Web proxies are best suited for users who require stable circumvention services for Web traffic and have trusted contacts in non-filtered locations with sufficient technical skills and available bandwidth to set up and maintain the Web proxy. This is also the most flexible circumvention option available for simple Web traffic and is less likely to be discovered and blocked than a public Web proxy, particularly if it is used with SSL encryption.