Browsing over an open Wi-Fi connection or other non-trusted network is a security risk as the data sent and received is not encrypted. Someone with network access might exploit this by monitoring traffic over the network and intercepting private data.
It is possible to connect to a Server from another network to browse via a SSH tunnel. The Client (the machine connecting to the non-trusted network) PC's web browser can be configured to use the internet connection on the Server to send and receive data. As all data is encrypted via the SSH tunnel whilst it is being forwarded to the Client it is much less vulnerable to security risks.
The same setup can also be used to bypass firewall settings that restrict access to certain web sites - e.g. on an office PC. As long as a SSH connection can be made to the Server then any sites that can be accessed directly from the server can be accessed on the Client PC.
Note - you will still be susceptible to security threats if your Server is not secure.
The browser you use to connect to the internet must support the SOCKS protocol. Firefox Portable (version 3.5.3) has been used in this guide as it does not need installing and can be run from a flash drive - this makes it ideal for use on Client PC's. If Firefox portable is configured following the instructions below it will only connect to the Server, refusing all other connections - this minimises the risk of accidently browsing the internet via a non-trusted network.
To configure Firefox for SOCKS proxy forwarding -
To create a Secure Shell tunnel to connect to the SOCKS Proxy Server use PuTTY (follow the instructions here)
To start browsing simply start Firefox once the SSH tunnel connection has been opened. To ensure that the proxy server is being used check your IP address using whatismyip.com or a similar service - the IP address of the Server should be displayed.