Every now and then, you may be forced to use an unencrypted wireless access point to access the internet. Many hotels and coffee shops leave their access points unencrypted, instead relying on other solutions such as captive portals to authenticate customers. This keeps unauthorized users off the network (sort of), but it doesn't encrypt anything between you and the access point. This could allow a malicious hacker to intercept personal information, such as passwords. With an SSH server at home, you can encrypt your web traffic and slingshot it back to your house. Your SSH server will then decrypt it and send it back out to the internet, as if you were browsing from inside your secure home network. Interested? Read on.
After connecting to an access point, go to whatismyip.org, and make a mental note of your IP address. Next, open a terminal and run
ssh -D 8080 user@server
If you are using a slow network, add -C for compression. I've done this when tethering over edge, and noticed a slight speed boost.
Go to System Settings... > Network > Network Proxy
In the Method drop-down menu, choose Manual.
Set Socks Host to 127.0.0.1 (also known as loopback)
Set the port to 8080
Click Apply system wide
Open a web browser and go back to whatismyip.org. If your ssh session is open, and your proxy is configured correctly, your IP address should now be different than it was before. This is because all of your web traffic is being encrypted before traversing the wireless network, and being routed back to your ssh server, where it exits to the internet. You can start using unencrypted access points again!
- Joel / FuelCell250