Each time we connect to the internet, our IP address is passed to the receiving site or service.
While many users understand the risks of their IP addresses floating around, it is unavoidable. The reason being, the site you connect to needs to know where to send the replies.
IP is short for Internet Protocol, and without these, we wouldn’t be able to do any browsing or anything.
Where Do IP Addresses Come From?
Internet service providers hand out IP addresses to all their subscribers. Any device that can connect and have internet traffic will have one of these addresses.
All this appears innocent, yet in reality, this isn’t the case.
- IP addresses identify where you are located in the world. On some occasions, they can trace you to the street level.
- IP addresses are used to block certain users from access. Geo-restrictions being a primary case.
- IP addresses can link directly to the names and addresses of the person who pays for the internet connection.
What is a Proxy?
In the purest form, a proxy acts as a substitute. In computing terms, the proxy server acts as a gateway.
They are a server, which sits between your connection, and the web page you visit. A proxy can add security, functionality, and privacy to a certain degree.
When you look at this, you may wonder, how does a proxy server work?
When you use a proxy server, every internet request will flow through this webserver to the address you requested. All return data will also pass through this server unless there are exceptions set in place.
What Does a Proxy Server Do?
When you look at the above, you may think a proxy isn’t required. Nevertheless, modern proxies are capable of much more.
- A proxy service can act like a firewall, as well as a web filter. They can also offer shared networks to users, and cache data, which speeds up frequent requests.
- In essence, these proxy services protect an internal network or connection, from the bad things on the internet.
- In other instances, such as torrent sites that are blocked. These proxies allow users to bypass restrictions and gain access to these torrent sites.
- For privacy, a proxy will change the IP of the device making the request, and replacing it with another. In this case, the destination has no idea who instigates the request, and all they can see is the proxy server’s address.
How Many Proxy Servers are There
There are various types of proxy servers, and each can perform a different function, or they operate differently.
- Transparent Proxy: A transparent proxy tells websites it is a proxy server. It still passes along IP addresses, so it identifies users to the web servers. Businesses, schools, and public libraries use transparent proxies to filter content.
- High Anonymity Proxy: A High Anonymity proxy will periodically change the IP address they show to web servers. By doing so, it is challenging to track which traffic belongs to who. High anonymity proxies are the most private and secure.
- Distorting Proxy: A distorting proxy server passes false IP addresses while it does identify itself as a proxy. This performs like an anonymous proxy, but it differs by forwarding false IP addresses. You appear to be in another location and may bypass content restrictions.
- Anonymous Proxy: An anonymous proxy will identify itself, but it won’t forward IP addresses for any user connections.
- Reverse Proxy: While many proxy servers are to access blocked or restricted content while staying private. A reverse proxy is in place to keep people out of the network. Using these, a company can direct users to particular servers rather than accessing ones, which contain sensitive information.
- Socks Proxy Server: In use, this is more of a proxy protocol rather than a physical server. They do provide a connection to a particular server and depending on the SOCKS protocols that are in place, the server will allow data such as UDP or TCP to be layered.
Risks of Proxy Servers
Many individuals compare a virtual private network (VPN) to a proxy. However, they are nothing like, and it is this unknowing why people face the risks.
Free Proxies: A free proxy appeals more than one you need to pay for somehow. However, you do get what you pay for, and they can catch unsuspecting users out. When using these, it does mean you are sending data through an unknown server.
The unscrupulous can gather personal information, and use it for their benefit. Often, it may be to send targeted ads to users, and that is the better option you can hope.
Open Proxies: You often find these in use to access free streaming sites or torrent pages that are restricted. Open proxies can be the most dangerous. These people can install an open proxy on a user’s computer.
Often, others use an open proxy to cloak their identity in chat rooms. Many services are wise to these and attempt to stop their use.
VPN’s Offer More than a Proxy
If users wish to bypass restrictions, then it is their choice to face the risks of using a proxy in the wrong way. However, a VPN will enable users to go about any online activity in total privacy.
You can bypass any geo-restrictions, download as many torrents as you wish, and you can do this and much more while remaining anonymous.
The best VPN will keep all your connections secure through bank-grade encryption, so there is no need to worry if your Proxy is passing on your IP or not. You will receive an IP that cannot be traced, and even your ISP won’t see what you are connecting to.