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'HTTP tunnel' to Bypass Firewall

Most network administrators at work, university or school deny access to file sharing or instant messaging services with a firewall and/or proxy server.

One way to get around such a firewall is "tunneling", also known as "http tunneling".

QuickLink:HTTP tunneling / firewall & proxy bypass under Windows -> get hopster (www.hopster.com).

What is an "HTTP tunnel"?

About HTTP

When your enter a web address in your web browser, such as "www.google.com", the web browser connects to the target web server and requests a page. Browser and Server communicate with a language (or "protocol") called "HTTP" - Hypertext Transfer Protocol. While HTTP is the protocol for web browsers and servers, different applications use different protocols: Kazaa, MSN, ICQ, AIM, IRC - each of them has its own "language" or protocol.

About HTTP Proxy Servers

(parts © about.com)
Some home networks, corporate intranets, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use proxy servers (also known as proxies).

Proxy servers act as a "middleman" or broker between the two ends of a client/server network connection. Proxy servers work with Web browsers and servers, or other applications, by supporting underlying network protocols like HTTP.

A typical "secure" network installation blocks alls outgoing internet access, including Instant messaging and file sharing applications, and requires users to go through an HTTP proxy to access Web pages. The proxy server filters the content of web pages, keeps a log file of internet usage, and blocks access to certain web sites and services.

Using an HTTP Proxy to tunnel non-HTTP protocols

An HTTP tunnel acts as a "translator" between HTTP and other protocols. It's basically a forwarding mechanism: imagine you'd receive a letter in a foreign language. You don't need to be able to understand the letter's content, but you can still put the letter into an envelope and send it to a professional translator.

An HTTP tunnel does exactly the same, but with application protocols. Each message sent from the client to the sever is wrapped into an HTTP "envelope". Since the "foreign language"-message now looks like a normal HTTP request, the proxy server knows how to handle the request and forwards it to the intended receipient.

Easy HTTP Tunneling with hopster

Setting up an HTTP tunneling product is not always easy if you use freeware- or Open Source tools (see "Tunneling Tools for Geeks"). Often, you need to understand how TCP/IP and HTTP Proxy Servers work, what configuration files you have to touch, and in some cases even requires a C/C++ or Java compiler and programming knowledge.

If you couldn't care less about the technical background and rather want to get started quickly, you're better off with a professional tool like hopster.

hopster is a small windows application that lets you get around the firewall or proxy, so you can use a file sharing or instant messaging program even from behind a firewall. hopster is a free download, and it installs itself in a minute - no complicated configuration steps needed.

hopster Homepage (free download)

HTTP Tunneling Tools for Geeks

There are quite some HTTP tunneling tools available for various platforms, and many of them are open source. If you don't mind reading documentation, editing configuration files and you feel comfortable on Linux or Windows command shells, here's a selection of free Open Source tools.

If you want to get going with just a few mouse clicks and prefer an easy to use Windows interface, you should look for alternatives (see above) such as hopster.

GNU HTTP Tunnel, Java HTTP Tunnel, desproxy, zeebeedee

Related Topics:
Bypass Firewall with Kazaa: HowTo

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