When researching online security, a common term you might come across is the proxy server. Proxy servers have been around for years, helping individuals and businesses mask their online presence. With a proxy server, you can keep your IP address safe and hidden from the public.
To better understand what a proxy hides, we’ll take a close look at the definition and the different types of proxies. We’ll also discuss how useful proxies can be for hiding your IP address.
So let’s dive in.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is a point of transition between a client and the website they want to visit. It’s the server that receives your requests and delivers the message to a target website. It also collects the response and delivers it back to you. While this is happening, your IP address is hidden, and the receiving website can only view the proxy’s address.
A proxy server works in many capacities but most importantly, it’s acting as an intermediary. It separates you from the websites you visit, ensuring your online security. A proxy server is also excellent for web caching. It ensures that subsequent requests for similar terms load faster, thus boosting your performance.
Different Types of Proxies
There are various types of proxies on the market today. This article will discuss the five most basic proxies for businesses, institutions, and individual use.
- Residential Proxies
When hiding your IP address, residential proxies are the most preferred. This is because residential proxies use IP addresses of real devices. Residential proxies are what Internet Service Providers(ISP) use to identify their users’ devices and computers.
Because of how residential proxies work, it’s rare to have them marked as spam. The proxies are also not detectable, and this makes it easy to bypass geographical restrictions and website cloaking.
- Web Proxies
Web proxies are essential for fetching cached files. They are ideal for businesses that perform many similar requests on the web. Every time you place a request, the proxy goes through its files and checks for the latest version. If they have a similar file, they’ll deliver the request without taking the time to go back through the internet again.
With web proxies, your online tracks on the internet are fewer. Fewer online tracks mean your IP address is less detectable on the internet, and more challenging for cybercriminals to reach.
Web caching also reduces your bandwidth. A reduced bandwidth is excellent for improving your load speeds. With improved load speeds, you have improved opportunities for monitoring and analyzing your online security.
- Datacenter Proxies
Datacenter proxies are the opposite of residential proxies. Unlike the residential proxies that show real devices’ addresses, datacenter proxies don’t have a physical ID. Instead, the proxies share the datacenter’s IP subnetwork.
This means that all requests passing through the datacenter proxy will look similar. Because of the similarity in requests, datacenter proxies are easy to flag and block.
But despite the challenges of datacenter proxies, they also have some benefits. Datacenter proxies have excellent speeds. Fast speeds translate to improved performance and easy monitoring of your online security.
- Anonymous Proxies
As the name suggests, anonymous proxies deliver requests without revealing the identity of the client. If you want complete anonymity on websites you visit, anonymous proxies are excellent for the job. They are also most reliable for hiding your location and bypassing restrictions.
- Dedicated Proxies
Dedicated proxies are an excellent choice since they involve a single user. With dedicated proxies, you have a specific address dedicated to you alone. The dedicated proxy also avoids the overuse of IP addresses. It’s less likely that your IP address will be blocked if you use a dedicated proxy.
What Does a Proxy Hide?
I) Tracks on Competitors’ Website
Web scraping is a common practice for businesses that want to stand out from the competition. It involves going through competitors’ websites to extract important business information. Most times, collecting information such as analytics, clicks, and comments require that you hide your IP address.
The purpose of masking your IP address is to avoid leaving obvious tracks on the websites you visit. By using a proxy server, you remain undetectable and can extract as much or as little data as you need.
Specific proxies, like the rotating proxy, go further and show a different IP address for each request. Using different IP addresses makes it difficult for the destination website to reveal your true identity and block your IP.
II) Links to Dangerous Sites
If you are not hiding behind a proxy, it’s possible that your next click could link to a dangerous site. Often, access to dangerous sites exposes your computer to cyberattacks. They introduce malware that gives cybercriminals easy access to your system.
To avoid this, you can use a proxy to restrict access to specific sites. Proxies are essential if you run a big organization that offers internet access to its employees. A proxy server will be an excellent choice for protecting your systems by blocking suspicious links. It will also secure your sensitive data so it’s not easily accessible by the public.
III) Targeted Ads
Most of the online ads are derived by your recent search history. For example, if you have been searching for online security information, you’ll discover that ads about security tools will popup on websites you visit.
Ads are a welcome distraction but can be a nuisance at times. And it’s for this reason that people hide behind proxy servers. A proxy server will hide your real IP address making it difficult for advertising companies to deliver messages to your computer.
IV) Your Exact Location
Your IP address is available to the public by default. It shows your location and can be used to trace information back to you. IP addresses are what certain brands use to block requests from specific locations.
If you are keen on not revealing your location, it’s convenient to hide behind a proxy server. By hiding your IP address, you can access content restricted in your area. You can also mask your IP address from cybercriminals targeting your area.
How Safe are Proxies for Hiding your IP Address?
The safety of a proxy depends on the type you choose. For example, you can use a SOCKS proxy to secure sensitive data. Also, a dedicated proxy is better than a shared proxy since it’s not susceptible to overuse.
Another point to note is that paid proxies are better than free proxies. This is because paid proxies offer opportunities for better security, anonymity, and performance.
Also, your provider determines how safe a proxy is. A reliable provider offers a reduced risk of having your IP address blocked due to suspicious activities.
A proxy hides your IP address and ensures better security for your devices. When you hide your IP address through proxies, you gain undetected access to competitors’ data and easier access to geo-restricted content. Proxies enable you to surf the internet without leaving obvious tracks on websites you visit.