An open proxy is a proxy server which is accessible by any Internet user. Generally, a proxy server allows users within a network group to store and forward internet services such as DNS or web pages so that the bandwidth used by the group is reduced and controlled. With an “open” proxy, however, any user on the Internet is able to use this forwarding service. Most of the time the owner of the proxy server doesn’t know that he/she is running an “open” proxy because of the proxy software misconfiguration. I still remember that the first IT company that I worked in 10 years ago had a Microsoft Proxy server in the network and it is an open proxy.
Open proxy is most commonly used to mask the user’s IP address. It could be to bypass censorship, privacy, or even to avoid detection. To be able to use the open proxy, a software such as Internet Explorer must support using proxy server. Go to Tools > Internet Options > Connections tab > LAN settings. Check “Use a proxy server for your LAN” and enter the proxy IP address and port. Now when you surf the web, the site can’t see your original IP address. Check out the animation below. I visit www.cmyip.com to view my original IP address. Then I configure Internet Explorer to use an open proxy. Refreshing www.cmyip.com website shows the open proxy instead of my original IP.
Unfortunately not all software supports proxy server. If for some reason you need a software to go through a proxy server, here are some third party software that you can use to tunnel windows applications through proxy servers.
There are some freeware such as FreeCap, Hummingbird and SocksCap which is able to redirect connections from programs through SOCKS or Proxy server. I am not going to talk about the free proxy tunneling software because some of them can be really tough to configure for a basic computer user.
However, the paid ones such as Proxifier, ProxyCap and WideCap are way easier to configure and use. So let’s take a look at it.
Proxifier is a program that allows network applications that do not support working through proxy servers to operate through an HTTPS or SOCKS proxy or a chain of proxy servers. With Proxifier you can easily tunnel all connections on the system or separate applications. By default, Proxifier will tunnel all connections automatically after the installation. No configuration needed, however you’ll need to look for open proxy servers and add them to proxy settings. The latest Proxifier cost $39.95 for a single user license.
ProxyCap enables you to tunnel Internet applications through HTTP, SOCKS v4, and SOCKS v5 Proxy Servers. You can tell ProxyCap which applications will connect to the Internet through a proxy and under what circumstances. This is done through a user friendly interface, without the need to reconfigure any of your Internet clients. ProxyCap provides flexible rule system and allows you to define your own “tunneling” rules. After installation, you’ll need to add a proxy server and then set a rule whether to allow all or specified programs to tunnel through the proxy server. The latest ProxyCap cost $30 for a single user license.
WideCap is system proxifier. It was created as an extended version of FreeCap program with a fully rewritten proxy engine to handle reloading everything on-the-fly. WideCap is fully functional Winsock Service and Namespace provider. That means simply integration into your network subsystem. FreeCap uses injection technology which could cause errors and incompatible problems with some firewalls and anti-viruses. WideCap acts as virtual network driver covering all your TCP/IP activity. No launchers – just run your program as usual and work via proxy. I spent half an hour trying to get WideCap to work because I was unable to get the rules working. Finally I found out that I need to add ANY for address that should go through Proxy. The latest version of WideCap cost $20 for 1 license.
Proxifier is the easiest to use with no configuration needed while WideCap is the most advanced proxy tunneling software if compared with the other two. Do take note that WideCap conflicts with other proxy tunneling software. I had to uninstall Proxifier and ProxyCap to get WideCap working.