There are many situations where you need to remain anonymous when surfing and doing various transactions online. Even if you’re not conducting any illegal or illicit activities, there are times where remaining anonymous will provide safety and security for you and your coworkers and family members. The most common way for people to hide their identity is to use a proxy.
What is a Proxy?
Every time your computer connects with another one on the internet, it transmits its location via a number called an IP address, which stands for internet protocol address. This is a unique number for each computer that is connected to the internet at any given time, and this number also reveals the location of the computer.When people know your IP address, it’s often simple to figure out your name and physical home address.
A proxy service allows you to surf online without anyone knowing your actual location. It accomplishes this by assigning your computer an anonymous IP address that is not tied to your physical location. When using a proxy, other people will see an IP address that denotes a different location which could be in a different state or even a different country.
How Does It Work?
The word “proxy” means“substitute.” A special machine called a proxy server substitutes your IP address for a different one. In order to do this, the proxy server has to act as a middleman that intercepts all in going and outgoing communications so that your activities are being relayed from a computer that is remote from yours.
Usually, when you send out communication of any kind, your internet service provider (ISP) relays the message along with your IP address. However, when you use a proxy service, this transaction is rerouted. The ISP still sends the message along with your original IP address, but before it reaches the intended destination, it goes to a proxy server that changes your IP and re-sends the communication.
This makes it appear that your computer is located in a different place from where you actually are. The IP address that the recipient sees can be one that you choose or one that is chosen at random by the proxy server.
Reasons for Using a Proxy
There are many reasons why anonymity is important on the internet. Here are some important examples you should be aware of.
- Your IP address may be denied access for some reason. If you use a different one, you can usually gain access to a server that is currently blocking you.
- There may be some topics of interest that you want to explore online, but you don’t want anyone to know about your activities.
- Some networks don’t allow access from other countries. If you’re traveling abroad, a proxy server could give a domestic IP address that will allow you to access the network.
- Your local network might be blocking access to certain websites. A proxy service can hide the IP addresses of the sites you’re trying to connect to and mask your activities.
It should be noted that, in many cases, your employers or your ISP may be aware that you’re using a proxy.Sometimes this is not allowed or casts a negative light on your activities, so there are some instances where using a proxy is not always the wisest decision.
Types of Proxies
Proxies come indifferent varieties. Depending on your circumstances, some types of proxies maybe more appropriate than others.
Transparent proxies reveal to websites that it is a proxy server and it may pass on your actual IP address. Anonymous proxies also identify themselves as proxies, but they hide your true IP address. A high-anonymity proxy will only provide a random IP address that does not reveal the location of you or the proxy server.
The most anonymous type of proxy is an onion routing service. This type of system transfers your communications between several servers in various locations in order to make it nearly impossible to pinpoint the origin of the activity.
Before you decide to use a proxy, make sure you are getting the level of anonymity that you need. There are many free proxy services available, but these often don’t provide true anonymity. Do research before conducting activities online that could be potentially risky.