uProxy: personal browser proxy for Firefox and Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 6, 2016

The browser extension uProxy is a free open source solution that enables you to create, use and share your own personal browser proxy on the Internet.

The project is developed by the University of Washington. The extension has been created for two main purposes: provide Internet access to trusted family members or friends, and give you options to use your own personal version of uProxy for use when you are traveling or on the road.

Users of uProxy can use what the solution offers in two ways: either by connecting to a friend and using that friend's Internet connection from that point onward, or by create a private server in the cloud using DigitalOcean.

The latter enables you to create your own custom version of uProxy that does not rely on others to function. It is necessary however to sign up for a DigitalOcean account to gain access to the server created under the account. This costs $10 per month right now, but the team plans to support $5 servers as well in the near future.

The only other option is to install uProxy on an existing server. The main benefit here is that you don't need to sign up for another account; the main disadvantage that you need to set it up on your own.

uProxy review

The uProxy extension adds an icon to the browser's main toolbar on installation. A click opens a welcome page, and another that asks you whether you want to send anonymized stats to the development team.

Once done, you may either use the menu to connect to an existing uProxy machine, or set up a cloud hosted or local version on the device you are using.

If you connect as a user to another machine running uProxy, you may use that machine's Internet connection. The proxy itself does not provide the owner of the machine with information on what you do on the Internet, but it is possible to use monitoring software to gain additional data especially on non-https sites. This is why the project recommends only connecting to trusted machines using uProxy.

Also, since you don't know what another user is doing when you share your Internet connection, you may end up in legal troubles or other troubles because of it.

The main difference between uProxy and a VPN is that the former only tunnels browser traffic while the latter all traffic on the system.

While a VPN may work better in many situations, uProxy may work when VPNs are blocked. A basic example is Netflix access. While not essential, Netflix started blocking VPN and proxy connections left and right.

This means that you may not be able to access Netflix anymore in other regions because of this. It is less likely that uProxy connections are blocked by Netflix. This in turn means that you may be able to use uProxy to watch Netflix by connecting to a trusted machine / user in a particular region.

The same may be true for situations where VPNs are blocked. This can be a work environment, or a nation wide block of certain providers.

Closing Words

The browser extension uProxy is offered as a beta version currently. It is a personal browser proxy for Firefox and Chrome that users may use in the place of VPN connections or web proxy connections. This can be especially useful in situations where VPNs are blocked or not working properly.

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  1. jasray said on February 7, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    And folks aren’t using AWS and SSH because? Because it’s free? Or because it’s too easy to set up?

  2. geeknik said on October 16, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Netflix is no longer blocking the PIA vpn service (at least in my experience, I can access Netflix over PIA).

  3. Gary D said on October 8, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    @ Parker Lewis

    I think Dan82 was referring to the contents of this article. It appears to to make someone (who allows a third party to access copyrighted or illegal content through their equipment) legally liable for any misuse EVEN IF he/she is not aware of this misuse.
    See the link below. Maybe Martin can qualify this if I’m wrong.
    NB it is quite heavily laced with legalese


    1. Parker Lewis said on October 9, 2016 at 12:40 am

      Ah yes, thanks! Such a law exists in my country too but it’s worthless, not applied. The persons you allow through uProxy would need to be some massive torrent users for you to be poked by authorities. Blocking traditional torrent traffic ports in your firewall should be enough even if uProxy doesn’t provide such an option, IMO.

      Depends on each country though, I guess some are more serious than others at this game and go beyond torrent traffic.

  4. Dan82 said on October 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    With the state of disturbance liability in Germany, uProxy is sadly not nearly as attractive as it may seem at first. I stopped using Hola for the same reasons and don’t offer my bandwith or location in any other way like as a Tor relay.

    That being said, I can see uProxy having a highly situational usage scenario with region-locked services, such as the streaming providers you already mentioned. While that practice is not legal, it is also quite impossible to detect from the outside if it only connects two home-network connections with each other. Now the only thing left in order to provide that service *safely* is a domain-based usage limitation. I don’t want to offer an unlimited proxy-server to the whole Internet, not even for a few select people I know, but for certain special services I could be persuaded.

    What about you, guys? Don’t you think that such a service, without any limit to what can be done with it, is quite risky?

    1. Parker Lewis said on October 7, 2016 at 12:41 am

      I would definitely sandbox it, but even then, it would be nice to have it run at least with a blacklist filter. A whitelist mode never hurts but it severely limits web browsing.

      Ideally, it would allow more granular control like ad-blocking and forbidding third-party JS and storage, but that’s more complex, especially with HTTPS. Still possible though, but a lot more work than simple domain filtering.

      ” With the state of disturbance liability in Germany ”

      Could you elaborate on this ?

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I’m in the same boat as you. I would only offer it to very close family members, that is it. Even then, I would have a bad feeling about it as I have no control over what is done when another party is connected.

      I agree that a domain/IP whitelist would probably be a good idea for a service like this.

  5. Bharat Balegere said on October 6, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Is there something similar for an android phone ? I have an old rooted android phone which I would like to leave at home and connected to the internet. Install something like uproxy on the android phone and then connect to it from outside.

  6. CHEF-KOCH said on October 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Pretty nice idea, and seems to work even on it’s earlier beta stage. I wonder what limitation this product has, some free if not all free proxy/vpn addons have some kind of traffic restriction. Sadly I can’t find anything on this on the official page.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 6, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Since it is more of a you are my friend/family member kind of thing, it appears that there are not any limitations. Trust plays a big role.

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