Usenet News and Web Proxy Servers

Usenet News

Our Usenet News server is accessible to all customers from anywhere on the global Internet. We provide access to most non-binary newsgroups in the global hierarchies comp, soc, rec, talk, news, humanities, and alt.

Caching Web Proxies

We provide caching web proxy servers (both for http and https protocols) that customers can access from anywhere on the Internet. There is one web proxy server for normal use, and another one that will kill most ads. You may optionally configure your web browser to point to either of these web proxy servers.

Access

To get access to the above servers, please point your web browser towards

and follow the “Auxiliary Password for NNTP and Web Proxy” link. After you log in, you will be able to generate the needed password for these servers.

Why Use a Web Proxy Server?

Speed

Our normal web proxy server may or may not give you noticeable benefits. Since it is a caching proxy server, it will cache popular content that others have recently already accessed. It will then dispense the same content to you without having to access the original web site again. This can be helpful in accessing some popular overloaded web sites.

On the other hand, when you go through our web proxy servers, the data will go via a longer path on the Internet. Instead of your web browser pulling the data directly from the destination web site, it will request it from our proxy server. Our proxy server will then get the data from the destination web site and relay it back to your web browser. Due to the additional transfer, you might see a slower response.

Try it both ways and see which alternative—using or not using the web proxy server—gives you better results.

Our ad-killing proxy server tries to kill as many advertisements as it can recognize. In most cases it does a pretty good job. You will find that most of the annoying banner ads will be gone. Having to download fewer non-essential images from these ads will speed up your Internet browsing experience. Also, some of the annoying JavaScript pop-up windows will be gone.

Note that the ad killing function works only when http is being proxied. When https is proxied, the entire connection, from your browser to the destination web site, even if proxied by our server, is encrypted with the SSL protocol. Hence no ad killing occurs during such a session.

In addition to using the ad-killing proxy server, you may also wish to use a web browser that can suppress annoying JavaScript pop-up windows. We have had good results with Opera and Firefox.

Note: Our web proxy servers are not designed to give you any anonymity. The web sites that you access will be able to detect your IP address.

You can also try using an ssh tunnel with our proxy server to see if it gives you better performance.

Security

If you are using an unsecured wireless network (as is often the case with public-access wireless Internet access in restaurants and coffee-houses), using our web proxy server via an ssh tunnel can help protect you against having your session hijacked by a stranger. Please see details below.

Using an SSH Tunnel with a Web Proxy Server

Here is a method for improving your web browsing experience taking advantage of two rahul.net features:

  • Ssh access to your account.
  • Our web proxy servers.

The example here assumes that you have a home Linux/UNIX/FreeBSD or similar machine available. The same method will work for any home machine running any operating system for which a good ssh client is available that can create a tunnel. (See also the section: Creating a Web Proxy Tunnel with Putty.)

Our tests show that the following method can greatly speed up web browsing. Instead of having your browser making repeated connections to various web sites, you can create a tunnel that connects your web browser straight to our web proxy server. This tunnel stays open, and all connections are made through it. Your home router, and connectivity provider (e.g.: dial-up, or DSL, cable modem), see only one steady connection between your web browser and our proxy server. This results in TCP, the data transfer protocol used on the Internet, performing very efficiently between your home machine and our proxy server.

The steps are as follows.

1. Make an ssh connection to your rahul.net Linux account, telling the ssh client to create a tunnel between local port 9090 and remote host noads.rahul.net port 9090. You can do this with the following command at the Linux shell:

ssh -L 9090:noads.rahul.net:9090 -l joeuser aqua.rahul.net

Instead of “joeuser” use your own login name, and instead of aqua.rahul.net use the name of whichever machine you normally ssh into.

2. Make your web browser use the following as its http proxy server:

120.0.0.1 port 9090

That should be it! Your web browser will make all connections to 127.0.0.1 (i.e., your home machine) port 9090, where your ssh client is listening for incoming connections. Your ssh client will transport all connections to our ad-killing proxy server noads.rahul.net port 9090. The proxy server will then connect to the appropriate web site via our data center's high-speed Internet links.

Try the above method and see if it gives you better results than direct web browsing.

One side benefit of this method is that it causes your web browsing connections to be encrypted between your computer and our proxy server. If you are connected using an unencrypted wireless network, this may be beneficial to you. It can be very easy for a stranger to snoop an unencrypted wireless network and hijack your login session to popular websites such as Facebook.1),2). Using our web proxy server via an ssh tunnel is one way of preventing this from happening.

The connection between our proxy server and the destination web site is encrypted only if you are accessing an SSL-enabled web site (i.e., if the URL begins with “https”). When you access non-SSL-enabled web sites, the connection between our proxy server and the web site is not encrypted. Since this latter connection travels over high-speed wired and fibre links, the chances of anybody eavesdropping are very low.

Note 1: No technical support is offered for the ssh tunnel method described above.

Note 2: You should figure out how to quickly switch the use of a proxy on and off in your web browser. Then you won't be inconvenienced should your ssh tunnel, or our proxy servers, ever fail. You will also be able to do some experiments to determine how much difference using a proxy server makes to your Internet browsing experience. Opera users can switch proxy use on and off by using the F12 key and selecting or deselecting “Enable proxy servers”. Firefox users can download and install the Switchproxy extension.

Note 3. Some machines may block too many ssh connections. For workarounds, see: SSH Restrictions.

Creating a Web Proxy Tunnel with Putty

You can use an excellent program called “putty” to set up an ssh tunnel to our web proxy server. First, you must find, download, and install putty. Look for it with a Google search.

Once you have putty installed and working, proceed as follows. The following instructions are for the Microsoft Windows version.

Look for a screen that lets you create a tunnel.

Where there is a choice of Local, Remote, or Dynamic, select:

  Local

Enter the Source Port as:

  9090

Enter the Destination as:

  noads.rahul.net:9090

Click on the Add button.

Now find another screen where you can save defaults, and do so. This should save the tunnel parameters that you defined above.

From now on, whenever you use putty to ssh into one of the rahul.net servers, the tunnel should become active. Then you can use it for web browsing as described in the section an SSH Tunnel with a Web Proxy Server.

1) “It's extremely common for websites to protect your password by encrypting the initial login, but surprisingly uncommon for websites to encrypt everything else. This leaves the cookie (and the user) vulnerable. HTTP session hijacking (sometimes called “sidejacking”) is when an attacker gets a hold of a user's cookie, allowing them to do anything the user can do on a particular website. On an open wireless network, cookies are basically shouted through the air, making these attacks extremely easy.” http://codebutler.com/firesheep.
2) “I'm sitting in a coffee shop. At a table against the opposite wall is a guy…. I've never seen him before. However, I know his name (including his last name…) because right now we're using the same Wi-Fi network and he's logged in to his Facebook and Google accounts….If I chose to, right now I could read and delete his private messages – or send out messages from his accounts. I could even edit his account profiles, alter his privacy settings or forward all his mail somewhere else.”http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/mobile/11/01/firesheep.wifi.security/index.html.
 
usenet_news_and_proxy_servers.txt · Last modified: 2010-11-02 16:09 by admin
 
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