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Guide: Setup SSH Tunneling to Bypass a Firewall: Guide
Today, data leaks, hacking and sniffing are common. Not a day goes by without news that a company’s database has been leaked or that the government is censoring or controlling a larger portion of the internet. And there is always a Nigerian prince who wants your help to release his million dollar fortune.
To protect your identity and other sensitive information from all this information, you need to secure your browsing, especially when using a public Wi-Fi network. The ideal solution is to use a VPN that we have already discussed in several cases.
Beware of pissed off IT admins | Shutterstock
But what if you are behind the firewall of the office, library or school? While VPN (sometimes) works, the services are paid and the free ones have dark sides. SSH tunneling is one of the alternatives to this, allowing you to bypass a restrictive firewall without getting caught.back to menu ↑
What is SSH Tunneling?
SSH tunneling is a bit like VPN. With VPN, you connect to a VPN server and all your traffic is encrypted and routed through that server. The premise is the same, but instead of a VPN server, you have your home PC or router acting as a server for traffic routing and need a few more steps to install.
The simple installation | Shutterstock
For readers who like technical details, the client side computer will connect to an SSH server over port 22. Most firewalls allow communication over port 22 as this is the port used by HTTPS and cannot decrypt what is sent over the HTTPS connection, as it is encrypted. SSH also uses the same port, so most firewalls allow this. I’m saying most of it because some really good people can still catch it, for which, read the warning below.
A warningBefore you start viewing network settings in your workplace, you should first review the policy on this. Depending on the company, you will at most receive a warning or the worst you will be firedIn addition, if you work in a business with sensitive work, such as a government department, bank or nuclear power plant, it is wise not to do this as it can lead to compromised security, which can lead to some of the aforementioned hacks. If an IT administrator decides to inspect, he or she will only see traffic flowing to and from your PC on port 22, but will not be able to see what the traffic is due to the encryption. So if you are caught and reprimanded for trying this, no fingers should be pointed at us.In addition, it is not guaranteed that this method will penetrate all firewalls. Most firewalls allow this because they cannot distinguish between an SSH and HTTPS package. But a really sophisticated firewall will even detect this and block the connection.back to menu ↑
The server side: FreeSSHD
With a VPN connection you connect to a VPN server, in the same way with SSH tunneling you need an SSH server. Free SSH servers are available, but as our main concern here is security, it is not wise to entrust your data to an unknown entity. So we’ll sit down up a server on the home Pc. Hosting an SSH server doesn’t require strong guts, so any old or cheap PC will do the job. FreeSSHD, a free app used. Let’s set it up up
Step 1: Download and install FreeSSHD. At the end of the installation, select Yes for private keys and select No for Do you want to use FreeSSHd as the system service.
Step 2: Open FreeSSHD and open the settings window by double clicking the icon in the taskbar. There should be a green check mark to indicate that the SSH server is active.
Did you know? Speaking of firewalls, they’re not just for PCs and servers. There are also some excellent firewalls for your smartphone, which we recommend.
Step 3: Click the Users tab> Add to add a new user. In the newly opened window, enter the username of your choice. In Password, select Password saved as SHA1 hash from the drop-down menu and enter a password as desired. Check the boxes for Shell & Tunneling.
Step 4: Under the Encryption tab, select AES (128, 192 and 256 bits), then click the SSH and Tunneling tabs and adjust the options according to the images below.
SSH tab settings
Tunneling tab settingsback to menu ↑
The customer side: PuTTY
A client app is required to connect to the SSH server. For that we use the great and free PuTTY client app. It’s simple and requires no installation, perfect for work PCs that you usually can’t install programs on.
Download and open PuTTY. Under Host name, enter the IP address or host name of the PC running the SSH server, select SSH under Protocol, and click Open. A black window will appear asking you to enter the username. This means that the connection to the SSH server has been successful. Enter the username you set in step 3, followed by the password (which does not appear as you type).
If you get a denied connection or a timeout error, follow the steps below to allow the port in the Windows firewall.
Open the Windows firewall (on the FreeSSHD server PC) and go to Advanced Settings. In the Advanced Settings window, click Inbound Rules> New Rule. Now follow the steps according to the below screenshots.
Select Port for the rule type.
Select TCP and enter 22 for the port number.
Select Allow the connection.
Check all three options.
If you still get a connection error then try to ping your SSH server from CMD. If you get a request timeout message, the firewall is most likely well protected and unfortunately there is nothing you can do.back to menu ↑
Have you managed to break the barrier?
Are you enjoying a YouTube video from your office PC or are you still staring at Excel sheets? If you have any thoughts or doubts, please visit our discussion forums.back to menu ↑
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