Proxy servers have the capability of allowing you to surf anonymously online, but not all of them actually provide this service. Technically speaking, a proxy is simply a server that represents you online. It makes a request to a webpage or to a different resource in place of you making that request directly with your own computer. How this request is made determines whether the proxy is transparent or anonymous.
What are Transparent Proxies ?
An example of a transparent proxy would be a server that simply forwards your request to the resource that you want without concealing any of your information. This may be used in the workplace, where the IP address of the request is revealed to the server being requested from but where the proxy provides access to the resource for a multitude of computers within the network. Transparent proxies are generally not what people are looking for when they go shopping for proxy server access online.
What Are Anonymous Proxies
Anonymous proxy servers conceal your information. When you go to request something from the webpage, the webpage gets the IP address of the proxy server that you’re using instead of your own. The server has no way of accessing your IP address and communication between you and the proxy server is encrypted, in cases where the greatest deal of security is desired.
Anonymous Vs Highly Anonymous Proxies
One other variation on these servers are highly anonymous proxy servers. These servers not only conceal your IP address, they also conceal the fact that you are using a proxy server to access the resource. In cases where this is not used, your IP address may be concealed but the resource that you are accessing will be aware that you are accessing it from a proxy server and that it is not sending it to your real address. In situations where the highest levels of security are needed, highly anonymous proxy servers are generally preferred.
What are SOCKS 4 and 5 Proxies ?
SOCKS 4 and 5 are protocols used to communicate over the Internet or other networks by computers. SOCKS 4 is an older protocol, and it doesn’t have the same features as does SOCKS 5. SOCKS 5, for instance, can be used for DNS lookup services, for UDP communication and is generally more flexible than the earlier SOCKS 4. Some proxy server providers will offer both SOCKS protocols to their clients. There is generally no pricing difference for using one or the other.
What Proxy Service Type Should I Choose ?
If you want the highest levels of anonymity, such as might be the case if you are web surfing in a nation that restricts Internet access, you will want an anonymous proxy server and, preferably, a highly anonymous proxy server. A transparent proxy server is used as a networking resource, in some cases, but it doesn’t offer you any security online.
Make sure you check with the provider of your service to see would protocols and software types are allowed over your proxy server. Some websites also block proxy servers and, if the IP address of the server is known to be a proxy by the sites, you may not be able to get access.