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Friday, September 9, 2016

uProxy Adds Tor Support

We are excited to announce support for sharing friends’ traffic through the Tor network! With this option, rather than proxying friends’ traffic directly to destination sites, uProxy sharers can now send friends’ traffic through Tor instead. This hybrid approach can be appealing for sharers who want to proxy traffic for people they know while reducing the association between their own IP address and their friends’ traffic.



Without the Tor sharing option, requests from a user who is getting access are sent through the sharer, and from there directly to the getter’s desired website. Since the sharer forwards the request directly, the sharer’s IP address is revealed to the website, and might be linked to the browsing activity of the user who is getting access.


With the Tor sharing option, sharers will forward proxied requests through the Tor network to their final destinations, instead of sending them directly. This reduces the association between the sharer's IP address and the traffic of their uProxy friends. We’re excited that uProxy users now have more options to get and share Internet access and can use whatever fits their situation best.


Do note that although the Tor sharing option protects the sharer's IP address from the sites that their friend visits, the identity of the friend may still be discovered by these sites because the browser uProxy is operating within may not have all the additional anonymity protections of the Tor Browser. Users who require anonymity and are able to access Tor directly should use the Tor Browser.


Let’s look at how to set it up:

Setup

  1. Download and install Tor on your machine. You can get Tor in either of these two forms:
    1. Tor Browser: Tor can be installed as part of a bundle that includes both the Tor client and a separate Tor-branded browser that’s already set up to use Tor, and has additional anonymity protections. The Tor Browser will not be used by uProxy.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.48.40.png
    2. Tor standalone client: For Unix, Linux, and BSD machines, the Tor client can be installed through your system’s package manager. On Mac OS X, it can be installed via homebrew using “brew install tor”. Downloads are also available here.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.49.40.png
  2. Run Tor:
    1. Tor Browser: Open the Tor Browser and follow the instructions here.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.51.19.png
    2. Tor standalone client: Run Tor on your terminal with the “tor” command.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 10.53.11.png
  3. Open uProxy and navigate to the Advanced Settings page by clicking the menu button in the top left and the Advanced Settings tab indicated by the gear icon.

    Screenshot at Sep 09 11-02-49.png
  4. Flip the “Share through Tor?” toggle on and enter the port number that the Tor client is running on.
    1. Tor Browser bundle: default port is 9150.
    2. Tor standalone client: default port is 9050.

      Screenshot at Sep 09 11-03-29.png
  5. Click the refresh button next to “Check if server is listening on given port”. The label should change to say “Found server listening at port 9050” (or whatever port Tor is running on). If no server is found, double check that you have Tor running and that the port number you entered is correct.



    Screenshot at Sep 09 11-03-56.png
  6. If a server is found, click SET at the bottom of the screen to save your settings. All future proxying sessions will be forwarded through Tor. To force any active proxying sessions to go through Tor, you will need to revoke access to your friend and then re-grant it.

    Screenshot at Sep 09 11-11-53.png
  7. To turn off sharing through Tor, navigate back to Advanced Settings, flip the toggle back to the off position, and click SET.

    Screenshot at Sep 09 11-13-50.png


We on the uProxy team are big fans of Tor. We know that different tools have different properties, goals, and strengths, and we support giving users more power to make choices that best fit their needs. To that end, we’re very excited to facilitate the complementary use of uProxy and Tor together. If you are interested in seeing more features like this in uProxy or have any other feedback or questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Special thanks to Nirvan Tyagi, who did all the heavy lifting on this feature.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

uProxy Helps You Share BLACKOUT

Our partner Jigsaw supported VICE News in the making of a new documentary series, BLACKOUT, about the global struggle for free expression and how technology is transforming the fight. The irony isn’t lost on us that the people who would be the most empowered by watching BLACKOUT will probably never see it.

The spread of the internet has accelerated the cat and mouse game between censors and those who would like to get around them. One side believes that information should flow freely across the internet. The other side believes that speech on the internet can be controlled, manipulated, and censored. This struggle plays out in countries all around the world, including those featured in BLACKOUT, from Pakistan to Venezuela to Eritrea.

Just as repressive governments race to find ways to restrict access to the internet, activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens find clever ways to bypass government firewalls. But repressive governments are getting more proficient at blocking proxies, VPNs, and other circumvention technology. At least two-thirds of the world lives in countries with some form of internet censorship.

To show how difficult it is for much of the world to access the free and open internet, we’ve created an experiment to help share BLACKOUT with people living in the most repressive societies. We built a custom version of Firefox with uProxy pre-installed, and we've made it available as an installer for windows, the operating system that the vast majority of our users use. For people living in countries that “throttle” the internet we also added compressed videos on our site so even people with very slow connections can watch the film and share it.

Making the videos downloadable is a conscious choice. In countries like Cuba or North Korea, where internet connectivity is almost nonexistent, people download content, put it on hard drives, and distribute it offline. In Cuba it’s called El Paquete. And only a few weeks ago, Human Rights Foundation started an initiative called Flash Drives for Freedom that aims to distribute content from South Korea into North Korea using simple memory sticks.

None of this is convenient or pretty. Accessing blocked content in repressive societies can be a real pain—and for some people it can be dangerous.

Watch BLACKOUT on YouTube and try uProxy for yourself at uproxy.org/blackout.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

uProxy now supports private cloud servers!

We’re excited to announce that you can now launch your own cloud server completely from within uProxy! Many users want to bypass filtering but don’t have a friend they can proxy with. Others would like to share access but can’t leave their computer on to make sure it’s available when their friends need it. Cloud servers help to meet both these needs. Users can deploy a cloud server, connect to it, and share it, all from within uProxy. Unlike with conventional VPNs, only you and people you authorize can connect to a server you create, and because they're not shared publicly, these servers are challenging for censors to detect and block. This model makes cloud servers an extension of uProxy’s existing network of private, trusted proxies.

We currently support automatically deploying servers on DigitalOcean, using their $10 per month plan. DigitalOcean has datacenters in Europe, Asia, and North America, so most users should be able to choose a location that’s close to them. In the future, we plan to add support for more cloud hosting companies and lower cost virtual machines, so stay tuned for those updates. In the meantime, if you’d like to run uProxy on an existing server, you should be able to adapt our instructions from a previous post.

Currently, Cloud support is released for Chrome only. We expect to release on Firefox in a day or two, after Firefox completes their review process.

Update (2016-04-15): Firefox review is finally complete. Check out private cloud support in the latest uProxy for Firefox today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Introducing the uProxy Network

Since late last year, uProxy has supported three ways to reach your friends: Facebook, Gmail, and GitHub. In the latest release of uProxy, we’ve added a new channel to help you establish connections with your friends: the uProxy Network, which should work in every country.

The uProxy Network is easy to use: there’s no password to remember, and no linking to an existing email address or account on some other social network. Instead, just choose a username, and you’re logged in. To add friends, just send them your invite link, which you can find after you log in. When your friend clicks on the link, you will appear on each other's contact lists, and you can start proxying.

uProxy Network login flow

The uProxy network is carefully designed with privacy and security in mind. Logging in to the uProxy Network creates a completely new identity on your computer, and doesn’t affect your other accounts in any way. Unlike Facebook, Gmail, and GitHub, your contacts aren't synced across devices, so if you use uProxy on more than one computer, you'll have to invite friends to connect with you on each computer you use. All messages on the network are encrypted with PGP, which is one of the world’s most trusted digital security systems.

To use the uProxy Network safely, only share your invite link privately and securely. If a stranger finds your invite link, they can appear on your buddy list, and they could even choose the same name as one of your friends.

The uProxy Network is ready to use, but it is still experimental. We’re already working on improvements, including a way to help you verify the identity of your friends. Eventually, our goal is to let anyone run their own server for the uProxy Network.

With the uProxy Network, using uProxy with your friends is easier than ever. We hope you’ll give it a try, and we look forward to hearing how it’s working for you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Get access 24x7 through your own uProxy cloud server

Update, March 31st: uProxy cloud servers can now be created from within uProxy itself! These instructions remain valid for advanced users who wish to install uProxy on cloud servers they may already own.

Today we’re delighted to announce a preview of uProxy cloud servers! Do you need access but don’t have anyone who can share with you? Or do you just want a uProxy buddy who’s guaranteed to be online whenever you need it?

With a uProxy cloud server, instead of relying on a friend to run uProxy at the same time, you set up your own personal server in the cloud with which only you (and those you share it with) can connect. Keep it just for yourself, share it with friends or family, or create one for your whole organisation—whatever works best for you!

During this early-availability phase, we recommend running uProxy on DigitalOcean. DigitalOcean is a major provider of cloud servers and we like them because they have some of the best pricing, offer servers in many locations, can accept PayPal, and have good support for tools we use. While the cheapest monthly plan we currently recommend is, at $10, a bit more expensive than some commercial VPNs, we believe the performance and reliability of a dedicated server—which can support several concurrent users—will surpass that of many commercial VPNs. We're planning to make uProxy cloud servers easier to deploy and cheaper to operate as we get closer to releasing full support for cloud.

To preview cloud support you currently need to follow some advanced steps, including using SSH and the command line. Soon, we’ll automate the process of creating a cloud server right from within uProxy so less technical users can create cloud servers too. In the meantime, this post serves as a guide for advanced users who want to try this feature today.

Experts will realise that it takes only a few small changes to these steps to get a uProxy server running on almost any Docker/Linux system with a public IP address. We'd love to hear about your experiences with other cloud computing providers.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Installation

Create a server

  • Log into DigitalOcean. If you don’t already have a DigitalOcean account, click Sign up and follow the instructions for creating an account and adding payment information.
  • Click the green Create Droplet button in the top-right corner. This will take you to the Create Droplets page. (“Droplet” is DigitalOcean’s term for a cloud server.)
  • Under Choose an image, click One-click apps. Select Docker 1.10.3Note: When a new version of Docker is released, Digital Ocean will update the default version number accordingly so if you see 1.10.4 or 1.10.5 instead then you should use that.
  • Scroll down to Choose a size. At a minimum, choose the $10/month option. This should work well for at least three people using your server at the same time. Choose a more expensive plan if you need higher capacity.
  • Scroll down to Choose a datacenter region. The closer you are to the server, the faster your connection to it will be, so choose the region closest to you. For example, if you are in the Middle East, choose Amsterdam. If you are in Asia, choose Singapore.
  • Scroll down past the next two sections to Finalize and create, where you’ll see a box labeled Choose a hostname. A hostname is like a username for a server. You’ll see something like "centos-...-01” filled in for you, but you should replace this with something you'll recognize, like “uproxy-cloud-server.”
  • Your server is ready to be created, yay! Click Create and behold your cloud server come into existence. When the process is complete, we will install uProxy on your new server.

Install uProxy

  • Now that you have a DigitalOcean server, the next step is to log in and execute the command to install uProxy. You should have received an email from DigitalOcean containing the login details. Find this email and log in as per these instructions. Note that the very first time you log in, you will be prompted to confirm the authenticity of the server (enter “yes”) and then you will be prompted to enter the password DigitalOcean mailed you, and then to choose a new UNIX password (after first entering the current password again).
  • Once you’ve successfully logged in, copy/paste the following command (after pasting, press enter to run it if it doesn’t start running immediately):
    curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/uProxy/uproxy-docker/master/install-cloud.sh | sh
  • Get some coffee: in our testing, this command runs for approximately 15 minutes. Once complete, you’ll see a very long sequence of random letters and numbers as the last thing output to the screen. This is actually part of a very long “invitation URL". You’ll probably have to scroll up to get to the beginning of (look for a line beginning with INVITE CODE URL:—the URL will be on the next line and will start with https://www.uproxy.org/invite/). If necessary, resize the window so you can select the entire invite code URL, then copy/paste it into a file and save it somewhere you’ll be able to get to it in the future. You’re done setting up your server, so you can type exit (and then press “enter”) to log out. In the next section, we’ll use this URL to access your new cloud server.

Usage

Your cloud server should be now ready to use! But first let’s explain the long URL from the previous step. This URL is an invitation to administer your uProxy cloud server and provides anyone who knows it with administrator access to it. Therefore, think of it as a password: keep it safe and don’t share it with anyone.

Proxy through your cloud server

Paste the invitation URL you saved in the previous step into your browser. uProxy will pop up and prompt you to accept the invitation. Click Accept and, after a few moments, your cloud server will appear in the GET ACCESS tab. Now you’re ready to start getting access through your uProxy cloud server, just like you would from an online uProxy friend!

Once you’ve got access, you can try going to geoiptool.com to verify that you are connecting through your new server. If the marker it places on the map is in the region you chose for your DigitalOcean server, and not your current location, you know it’s working.

Share your cloud server

As the owner of a cloud server, you can create non-administrator invitation URLs for other users. Share these URLs with your friends, family, or members of your organisation as you like. To issue an invitation, switch to the SHARE ACCESS tab and, under your new uProxy cloud entry in your contact list, click SHARE WITH A FRIEND. This generates a new, unique invite link, which you can now send to friends so they can get access through your new uProxy cloud server.

Note that, since you’re the only one with the administrator invitation, you’re the only one who can invite friends to use your uProxy cloud server; friends you’ve invited via a non-administrator URL can’t invite their friends. Also, it is currently difficult to revoke invitations you’ve already sent. We will make this easy in the future, but for now, be careful to only invite people you can trust to use your server in the ways you intend them to.

Fin

That’s it! Thanks for being one of our first testers of uProxy cloud server. We hope it works well for you and would love to hear about your experience.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

With new GitHub support, uProxy works everywhere!

It’s our great pleasure to announce that the latest version of uProxy should work well everywhere in the world, including places where Facebook and Google are blocked. Hurray!

uProxy now offers a new option for finding and connecting to friends: GitHub. GitHub is a site for helping developers share code, but uProxy can use GitHub to share the information needed to set up direct connections between friends, the same way uProxy uses social networks. Most important, for many users, GitHub is more accessible than social networks, and it’s free to sign up.

Check out our uProxy + GitHub setup guide if you’d like to give it a try.



We’re beyond excited to welcome the new users that this will enable to use uProxy, and we can’t wait to hear how it’s working for you. As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Happy new year on behalf of the uProxy team!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Blog, Stay Tuned for Updates!

Hello, uProxy World!

I’m Josh, and I joined the uProxy team to help grow uProxy’s user and developer communities. I’m excited to be writing to you from our new blog, and am looking forward to working with you in the coming months to make sure uProxy is meeting your needs as well as possible as we continue to build it.

Looking at the download stats over the past year, uProxy has been downloaded in 92 countries and counting. We’re delighted to see so much interest from users around the world, and are eager for uProxy to help more and more people experience the Internet as it was meant to be.

But as many of you have noticed, there’s one major caveat:

For best results, you currently need access to Gmail or Facebook, which are accessible everywhere except China. We are committed to making sure that uProxy works well everywhere in the world.

To be precise, currently uProxy can help you if:

  1. You are comfortable using software in the following languages: English, Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
  2. You want to use uProxy to connect to a friend because:
    1. Your internet connection can’t access certain sites, but your friend’s connection can.
    2. Vice versa: Your friend can’t access sites that you can, and you want to share your access with them.
  3. Either:
    1. Both of you can connect within uProxy using the same service (e.g. Gmail or Facebook), and accept one another’s invites. Accepting an invite allows you and your friend to appear in each other’s contact lists, so that you can subsequently ask for permission to share their connection, or offer them access to share yours, whenever you’re both online running uProxy at the same time.
    2. Or, you both have some other way of exchanging uProxy links (e.g. by copy/pasting into a shared doc) each time you’d like to make a direct connection.
  4. Both you and your friend can install Chrome or Firefox on your computers and keep it up to date, and you can both install the uProxy extension from official sources: the Chrome Web Store, the Firefox Add-Ons site, or directly from uproxy.org.

For many users, we’ve been thrilled to hear that the latest version of uProxy is fast, reliable, and user-friendly. But for other users, we know these requirements cause significant friction. More generally, uProxy only recently graduated from alpha to beta status, and therefore is still better suited to users with more experience using beta software. The team is hard at work on a number of improvements, and I can’t wait to share them with you soon.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, in our forum, on our Facebook page, or in an email directly to me.

Thanks for following along. We’re looking forward to big things ahead.

P.S. If you use Slack or IRC, please feel free to join our Slack community or IRC channel. I’ve been hanging out there to welcome newcomers, and am looking forward to meeting you!