Our guide series continues with another FireFox plug-in called “Foxy Proxy”. It’s a bit like Tor only you are not connected to a huge network of proxies, but rather, using a single proxy to access the internet. While arguably less secure than using Tor, for using it simply to bi-pass DNS censorship (or even using it to bi-pass geo-blocked websites for that matter), it can be sufficient enough to accomplish simple browsing tasks.
It’s entirely possible that you’ve seen the odd conversation here or there online that had someone say, “Oh, you can just use a proxy for that.” Don’t think you are alone if you felt that it seems easier said than done because you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry, this guide should show you one way of connecting to a simple proxy.
Using a vanilla proxy can do a few things. One thing is to defeat DNS censorship as suggested in the PROTECT-IP Act. The other is accessing a geo-blocked website. The only difference is that if it’s a censorship thing, simply access a proxy outside of your country. If it’s a geoblocked website, then simply find a proxy within a country that is allowed on that particular website. That’s really the only difference. Don’t worry, just read on if all this sounds confusing. This guide should cover it all.
This guide presumes you are using FireFox. Foxy Proxy for other browsers is apparently in the works, but it appears to be only for FireFox at this time.
Step 1: Download and install Foxy Proxy
Since Foxy Proxy is a plug-in for FireFox, this should really be the easy part. Go to the plug-in download page. Click on “Continue to Download”. On the next page, click on “Add to FireFox” You’ll likely get the following pop-up window:
Click on “Install Now” when the button allows you to. Once it’s installed, you’ll get the following pop-up:
Clicking on “Restart Now” will restart your browser.
Step 2: Find a Proxy
Unlike Tor, you actually have to track down some proxies to use manually. Right now, you should be behind no proxy at the moment when FireFox restarts.
Your Foxy Proxy plug-in should be found to the right of the URL (left of the Google search bar) It’s the little blue fox icon:
Right click on the blue fox and click on “Options”
What you’ll get is the following screen:
The default proxy is merely you. You aren’t really behind any kind of proxy at all. The next part is finding a proxy. There’s to routs one can go here – either using a paid service (generally more reliable) or a free service (more convenient). Paid proxies can be found on the Foxy Proxy website.
For testing purposes so we have an idea of what we are getting in to, we’ll use a free one for now. So, we’ll refer to a free proxy list found on Samair.
On the website, we see lots of different IP addresses. There’s really three pieces of information that you really need (two pieces are essential). You need the server IP address, the port and, optionally, the country it originates from. Let’s, for example, select an Australian proxy. This is what we are looking at:
I’ve underlined the two different parts of the numbers we want. The number being provided is “220.127.116.11:80″. Note the colon sign towards the end of the number. The numbers before the colon is the proxy IP address. The number after the colon is the port number. I’ve also circled the fact that this is an Australian proxy. Just keep that part in the back of your mind for now.
Step 3: Put the Proxy Details into Foxy Proxy
Now that we have the IP address and port, we can start putting in the proxy details into Foxy Proxy. In the Foxy Proxy settings we opened up earlier, click on the “Add New Proxy” button:
In the new window, click on the “General” tab. Once in that tab, you can click on the text box next to the “Proxy Name” and name the proxy. I think it’s helpful to name them after the countries they come from. I was unoriginal and named it, “Australian Test Proxy”. Towards the bottom of the window, you can modify the color you want to use for this proxy. Not only will it modify the color box in the proxy list in the preferences, but it will also modify the font color in the Foxy Proxy menu when you click on the blue fox icon in your browser. Since yellow, blue and red are already in use, I’ve decided to use green instead. Alternatively, you can just input the hex number of the color you want if you don’t want to use the color picker. Ultimately, this is just a personal preference thing for what you want to see.
Now, click on the “Proxy Details” tab. Next to the “Host or IP Address”, type in the IP address for the proxy you’ve decided to use. In our example, it’s simply “18.104.22.168”. Now, next to “Port”, put in the port number. In our case, it was merely “80”. To avoid typo’s, just use copy and paste to make things easier. That should be it. Now click on OK.
You’ll get a new dialogue box. Just click on “OK”
In the remaining options menu. You’ll probably notice the new proxy in the list. Just note that if you think you got something wrong with the settings, you can always go back to this window, click on that particular proxy and click on “Edit Selection” to change anything. If you’re happy with your proxy, just click on “Close”
Step 4: Test the Proxy
Since we are using a free proxy, it makes sense to test it, right? Open a new tab in FireFox and type in the address bar, “http://www.google.com”. You should be directed to the plain old Google you are use to in your own country.
Now, right click on the little blue fox and click on your test proxy (this should make the Foxy Proxy icon spin around in circles)
Now, using your test Google tab, re-type in “http://www.google.com” in the address bar and hit enter. The Google page that comes up should reflect what country the proxy you use originates from.
Just remember, we are using public proxies. Not all will be reliable and some may be slow. You can always use a different proxy as well. Not all public proxies are reliable. Not all commercial proxies are perfect either. If you use a commercial proxy, shop around and look for user reviews to get a better idea of how good the service is.
Some Final Thoughts
Ultimately speaking, you are relying on someone else to cover your tracks and hide your identity. There is no guarantee of safety. Does the owner of that proxy scrub all data? Can the owner of the proxy hand over any evidence against you over to the police? I don’t think anyone can say, for certain, “Yes” to the first question and “No” to the second question for all proxies in general.
Still, if you want to get around website censorship in a given country or bi-pass geo-blocking for general browsing, then sure, this is probably a sufficient method. If you are expecting complete anonymity, I wouldn’t recommend using this particular method for that.
While the security aspects might be less than what you would expect for something like Tor, it does allow you to control which proxy you are using more directly. With Tor, it’s a bit more like a lottery where you can, more or less, pick a random proxy. With Foxy Proxy, you get to manually select which proxy you want to use and use that proxy whenever you want (so long as the proxy is still running of course) So, really, the question is, do you want something with an aspect of anonymity or something with more direct functionality when it comes to using proxies? Both will defeat general DNS censorship, it’s just really a matter of what “flavor” you want.
For now, I would say this would be an effective way to defeat general DNS censorship on the ISP level.
Further Reading: Foxy Proxy homepage