Time for a new idea

The Problem

As many other users around the world, I sit "safely" behind a corporate firewall and proxy infrastructure which is supposed to protect "me" and the organization against various nasty things.

In the nature of my work I need to visit strange places on the Internet on a regular bases, but that is impossible through our very strict proxy. I would also sometimes like to use another e-mail service when communicating to people - especially if I don't yet fully trust the remote party (you never know what they do with your e-mail address). Since I can not connect to external mail servers, this is no longer possible, and since the proxy blocks all access to web mail sites, I am stuck using only limited resources.

The solution that is suggested over and over again boils down to use a HTTP tunnel to some of the external sources. Ok, but... I have found this not always to be reliable, since I have special needs, like:

Sounds easy?

The solution?

I have now started to tinker with the idea of a XML message specification that could make it possible to tunnel various protocols over a single connection. This would require a special client application on the end user's computer that "listens" on the various standard ports on his/her local machine. In turn this client needs to chat to the remote server using the XML message spec to retrieve the various pieces of information (multi protocol) from various destinations. Once the data is collected, it should be send to the client which reformats it to the correct local message specification (per protocol specifications) and returns this data to whatever client side application asked for the data.

As an example, let's assume you want to use Usenet as well as pop3/smtp servers external to your company. The server on the outside will need configurations to connect to these remote systems and also understand their protocols. On the client side you should configure the client application (tunnel client app) to sue these services over the tunnel. On the local host the client application should then start to listen on the usual ports for the particular services. The user's normal clients (like Thunderbird) can now be configured to connect to the local port (pop3, smtp and Usenet) all conversations are then relayed to the external server over a single port.

From here on...

Well - I will first need to design a very basic framework with a simple proof of concept. I reckon I should start with something simple like pop3 and smtp - two protocols related to e-mail.

I will keep you posted as I go along.

From here on, you are welcome to come up with suggestion, and remember - help is always appreciated.


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