How to bypass Australia’s forthcoming internet filter.

Just so that it is blindingly obvious how easy it will be to work around Australia’s impending ISP-level internet filter (which, I might add, is expanding its blacklist ever further), I thought I would sum it up in three simple steps. It’s not the cheapest way to bypass a filter – and the information below isn’t going to be new to my blog’s regular readers – but from where I stand (as someone who has access to an offshore Linux server), it certainly beats messing with Tor.

  1. Obtain an account on a Linux or similar Unix-like system in a country outside Australia, preferably one without reactionary politicians who are trying to curry favour with a conservative religious party that shares the balance of power in parliament. If you can’t get access to a server for free, then there are plenty of low-cost virtualized hosting sites such as Mythic Beasts (User Mode Linux) in the UK and Linode (Xen) in the US.
  2. Use ssh’s application-level port forwarding and log in to your new remote system. ssh will act as a SOCKS server on your local machine:
    ssh -N -D 1080 your.remote.host.co.uk

    Under Windows, you can do this with the ssh client provided in Cygwin. I would imagine that Putty provides a similar feature.

  3. Configure your web-browser to talk to the ssh socks proxy on your local machine. For Firefox users, this would mean going to Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Network -> Settings, choosing “Manual Proxy Configuration” and putting localhost and 1080 in the SOCKS fields, and then selecting SOCKS version 5. You can now browse as you would normally, and all HTTP requests will be sent from the remote host, and all Australia’s internet filters will see is a stream of encrypted ssh traffic.

Of course, I am assuming that the Australian government doesn’t plan to block ssh connections out of the country. It would be almost amusing to see the smouldering ruins of Australia’s IT industry if they tried.

2 responses to “How to bypass Australia’s forthcoming internet filter.

  1. Yes, PuTTY accepts exactly the same parameters:

    putty.exe -N -D 1080 your.remote.host.co.uk

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