You ever wondered what SOCKS is good for these days?
To help us use the Internet better without having the surrounding be able to watch us as much as otherwise!
There's basically two good scenarios and use areas for us ordinary people to use SOCKS:
- You're a consultant or you're doing some kind of work and you are physically connected to a customer's or a friend's network. You access the big bad Internet via their proxy or entirely proxy-less using their equipment and cables. This allows the network admin(s) to capture and snoop on your network traffic, be it on purpose or by mistake, as long as you don't use HTTPS or other secure mechanisms. When surfing the web, it is very easily made to drop out of HTTPS and into HTTP by mistake. Also, even if you HTTPS to the world, the name resolves and more are still done unencrypted and will leak information.
- You're using an open wifi network that isn't using a secure encryption. Anyone else on that same area can basically capture anything you send and receive.
What you need to set it up? You run
ssh -D 8080 firstname.lastname@example.org
... and once you've connected, you make sure that you change the network settings of your favourite programs (browsers, IRC clients, mail reader, etc) to reach the Internet using the SOCKS proxy on localhost port 8080. Now you're done.
Now all your traffic will reach the Internet via your remote server and all traffic between that and your local machine is sent encrypted and secure. This of course requires that you have a server running OpenSSH somewhere, but don't we all?
If you are behind another proxy in the first place, it gets a little more complicated but still perfectly doable. See my separate SSH through or over proxy document for details.