Internet Junkbuster

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The Internet Junkbuster is a useful tool for filtering web requests that a web browser makes to sites that are known to do little more than serve advertisements. However, it is also a highly configurable, general HTTP proxy server and can be leveraged as sort of a poor man's network protocol analyzer. The IJB can be used in place of a full-fledged network protocol analyzer when the task at hand is to understand how data, encapsulated entirely in HTTP requests and responses, is formatted.

The master Junkbuster configuration file has a configuration setting named debug. This setting allows the user to log data such as connection status, HTTP responses and requests, and even the full data transferred.

Best Practices

A useful setup is to have one computer running a web browser or other web-related client. Most likely, this will be a Windows machine running some interesting proprietary software that communicates to its mothership via HTTP. Another computer, preferably Unix-based, is on the same LAN running the IJB proxy with the logging facilities enabled. Configure the web app on the first machine to use the second machine as a web proxy. This may take some digging to find the correct option. Also, the app might retrieve its proxy configuration from the system settings. To be absolutely certain that the web app is using the proxy, it is useful to configure the router (assuming this is a home-based LAN with a configurable broadband router) to block web requests that emanate directly from the first machine.

Initiate communication using the web app as normal. The IJB will capture the network conversation data for later analysis.