Jun 12, 2007

View MySpace from Work

Websense Block Message

If you work for a company that uses some sort of web filtering product like Websense, Surfcontrol (Now owned by Websense), Blue coat or something similar, then this article is for you. These types of software are used to keep you from goofing off at work. Depending on your IT department's policies, certain categories of sites might be blocked from your work place. Sites with porn, or time wasting sites like MySpace are big targets for web filtering software.

There are ways around if you are slightly savvy. Once of the best ways is to use a remote web proxy to browse your out lawed sites. The remote web proxy lets you connect to a remote site, then use the internet at the remote site to browse the internet. Since the traffic is not really behind your company's firewall, or filtering software, they cannot block the sites you are going to. There are public web proxy sites out there like Proxy420.com, the problem with them is that the big name web filters like Websense probably has already categorized those sites as proxy avoidance. So what is your alternative? You can host your own web proxy from your home computer.

I host my own website from home using Abyss Web Server X1 which is free. You can also use IIS if you are running Windows XP Professional at home, or even Apache for Windows. If you have a Linux box at home, you will probably be running Apache as well. I followed these instruction which I got from webstuffcan.com. These instructions are for Apache, so if you use Apache, this will make sense to you. If you use something different like I do, then you might have to do some Googling to see how to do the same things with your web server software, but it can be done.

Step 1 - Download and install Perl distribution
Download Windows x86 version of Active Perl from ActiveState site. Install with default configuration except the directory which I recommend to be set to “C:\usr\”.

Step 2 - Download and install Apache server
Download latest Apache server for Windows from http://httpd.apache.org/. Install it under any folder with port 80 as the HTTP port . Setting port to 80 is important since most companies only allow port 80 access. If you get any error in binding to port 80, probably you have something else listening on it. If your ISP blocks port 80 like mine, use a different port like 8080. You will have to specify the port in the url if you use something other than 80. An example of a URL with an alternate port is http://example.com:8080.

Step 3 - Configure Apache server
Now we need to configure Apache to enable CGI.

Locate #AddHandler cgi-script .cgi in httpd.conf (located inside apache subfolder conf) and remove the hash(#) in front.

Locate the “you set DocumentRoot to” string in httpd.conf. Under that you will see Option directive. Change it to Options Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks SymLinksifOwnerMatch ExecCGI MultiViews

Step 4 - Download and install CGIProxy (nph-proxy)
Download CGIProxy (nph-proxy) from http://www.jmarshall.com/tools/cgiproxy/nph-proxy.cgi.txt. Rename the file to nph-proxy.cgi and copy it to Apache’s document root (htdocs). Now change the first line in nph-proxy.cgi to #!C:\usr\perl\bin\perl.exe

Start Apache from the bin folder (httpd.exe). Now open a browser session and point to http://localhost/nph-proxy.cgi. If you get no errors, you should be good to go.

Find the public IP address of your home connection. This can be viewed by browsing to WhatIsMyIP.com. Now from your office computer browse to http://IP ADDRESS/. If you used a different port, use http://IP ADDRESS:port number. If you really want to be spiffy, sign up for free a Dynamic DNS account, and set your home router to automatically update it with your public IP. (Google port forwarding on your router to make all of this work).

Happy MySpacing!

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