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date 9.Sep.2012

■ Proxy servers: why and how-to?


Browsing the internet through a proxy server isn't news. People wanting to surf anonymously (hide their IP address) are doing it for ages. As the name indicates, the proxy is an intermediate computer that routes internet requests. Instead of browsing directly a website, traffic goes through the proxy server, so it may appear that the proxy is doing the browsing and not you. There is a lot to talk about proxies, like their types, whether free or paid, potential risks, the ethics, business model and more.

Today I will concentrate on proxies as a means to spoof the browser's country of origin. Many websites will check your IP address and refuse to deliver content, as for instance the BBC iPlayer: it will only serve people from the UK. Using a proxy server located in the UK you can bypass such controls. The other day we saw that many filesharing sites don't work in the USA; using a proxy server in Europe would help USA people locate more of their pirated software using cracktracker.

How do I browse through a proxy server?


A proxy server like any internet location has its address, which is usually the raw IP address of the server plus a port number, e.g. 203.76.117.70:8080. There are tons of sites that list free proxies like hidemyass, publicproxyservers, proxynova and much more. You can redirect your whole browsing through a proxy tweaking your browser's settings (see here for internet explorer), but in our case we will just use cracktracker's /P: (proxy) command line switch to redirect only cracktracker.
Please avoid redirecting your entire browsing through unknown proxy servers, especially if you are using passwords. The techniques described here are to be used only with cracktracker.

Browsing through a proxy is inherently slow, and the more people that use the same proxy, the slower it becomes. A good proxy you found yesterday may no longer exist or work properly. Picking up a free public proxy isn't easy, especially considering there are tons around! Many sites that list proxies like hidemyass claim to test proxies to be in good working order, however I found this didn't work reliably. What you need is a proxy that works from your computer, and your own country.

As we are trying to spoof our country of origin, we need to find proxies in particular countries. This is easy using the aforementioned proxy lists as they offer various filters, including proxy country. This way we can select something located in USA, or in Germany or what have you.

Finding working proxies using Free Web Proxy Checker


Testing proxy IP addresses manually for a working proxy is tedious to say the least. I found a free proxy checker that can do most of the work for you. Once you download and install the Free Web Proxy Checker, you paste a list of proxy servers and it discovers the good ones among them. As you can see from the snapshot, the GUI isn't the best in user friendliness, but you can ingore most of the default settings — they seem to work fine. Just take note of the file path where the good proxies are saved; the default C:\program files\opt-in software\goodprox.txt may not be writeable; you can change it to something simpler e.g. directly under C:\. Once the job is done, open the results file and pick any proxy.

A minor complication is that the tool requires a plain text list of proxy server addresses. Most proxy lists are in HTML format and you cannot copy/paste them to be checked. Luckily the Proxy Nova website can export plain text proxy lists, and even allows you to select the country of origin as follows:
proxy checker GUI

	http://www.proxynova.com/proxy_list.txt?country=de,fr

This example URL will export a list of 100 proxies from Germany and France (notice the comma separated country codes de,fr as URL parameters). You can select any other country you want in this fashion (eg USA=us).

PS. The plain text service by proxynova doesn't seem to be working anymore. We have developed a free tool to grab plain text proxy server IP addresses, click here for more information.

Once you find a good proxy located in Europe, and tell crack tracker to use it using the /P:x.x.x.x:port command line argument, it will find cracks just like as if you were in europe, even when you are located in the USA. The search will be slower but you will find download URLs that would be otherwise unavailable in your country.

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