Did you know that your computer’s IP address is given out to every website you visit, each time you go online?
I’m sure you’d want to know why and how this happens?
Computers communicate with each other using Internet Protocol addresses (commonly known as IPs). You can think of each IP address as a phone number for one of your contacts.
When you browse the internet, websites can see the IP address from your computer, too. They know exactly what you did and for how long.
In layman’s terms, your connection to the world is facilitated by your computer’s IP address.
Why IP Addresses are so Important
As stated above, computers and smart devices use IP addresses to link and connect, but there are more ways in which they’re used:
- IP addresses reveal your global location
- IP addresses contain identifying information
- Websites may use IP addresses to block you from accessing their information
With the above three points in mind, we can safely conclude that your online presence is exposed to all online users.
However, with today’s advanced technology, online users can hide their identities and secure themselves against hackers.
This securing is made possible by the use of proxies.
What is a Proxy?
In simple language, a proxy is a substitute or an agent authorized to act on behalf of another. Before you get to the main person, you must go through the proxy. It can be compared to a security guard who must first clear you to access a building.
When you’re online, proxies take the place of the security guard. They act as an intermediary, providing their public IP address to sites instead of yours.
They protect your sensitive information against cybercriminals and hackers, who are usually out to gain from stolen data. In the U.S., research shows that hackers maliciously attack unsuspecting online users every 39 seconds.
This is a great cause for concern, and it shows why you should always be secured when you go online. Simply put, proxies provide you with an online mask.
What does a Proxy Hide?
As we’ve mentioned above, your requests to other websites must go through the proxy. Likewise, websites contacting your computer must use the same gateway.
Apart from acting as a go-between, a proxy can also hide
- Computer users (you). It gives you online masking for browsing anonymously.
- Location. By using their IP address instead of yours, proxies help conceal your location.
- Sensitive data and information. Proxies encrypt communication between two sites, preventing hackers from gaining access to your valuable data.
- Online footprints on competitor’s site. Businesses use important data collected from competitor’s websites (data scraping) to improve their marketing strategies. Using your IP address leaves obvious tracks that suspicious websites can easily trace back to you. A proxy server is crucial in this case.
- Dangerous websites. Visiting dangerous websites makes you an easy target for cyberattacks. Hackers may introduce malware and gain access to your information. A proxy can help restrict access to suspicious links.
- Hiding ad pop-ups. If you’ve recently been searching for specific products online, you’ll notice adverts relating to this niche keep popping up. Proxies can help keep advertising companies off your track.
Apart from data security and privacy, proxies provide the following benefits to online users
- Internet usage restrictions. Proxies can hide a website’s content, enabling parents to hide any inappropriate platforms from their kids.
- Area-specific content access. Like Netflix, some sites stream their content to people in certain countries or regions and exclude others. Proxies can be used in such cases to bypass such restrictions.
- Improved bandwidth usage and faster connection speeds. Proxies help in data caching. Caching is a feature of proxies where they store info on their proxy servers, leading to web services sharing the specified resources with other web users. The feature helps the search engines retain browser history. In the long run, connection speeds increase, and bandwidth is utilized correctly.
- Privacy. Some proxies can alter your IP, giving you an anonymous online identity; convenient when using public WiFi.
Types of Proxies
Different proxies come with different configurations. Below, we review some common proxy types:
These are appropriate for sites that receive many similar requests. They fetch cached files. Each time a request is made, proxies check for the most up-to-date version without going to the web.
As stated earlier, caching helps utilize your bandwidth and improve loading or connection speeds.
These types of proxies are perfect for total online privacy. They relay requests without giving your identity away.
They are perfect for single users. A single IP address is dedicated to each user, which helps avoid over-usage of IP addresses. This greatly reduces the chances of having your IP blocked.
A SOCKS proxy is a dedicated proxy that only provides access to one user, making the connection between you and the internet more secure.
This proxy type doesn’t offer any form of security to its users. The sites you visit can detect that you’re using a proxy, blocking your IP address in the process.
By using its address to submit requests, this type works similarly to anonymous proxies. The visited websites cannot easily detect that the requests are coming via a proxy. It’s a perfect proxy for hiding your location.
These are the most unsecured proxies. Often, they are set up by cybercriminals aiming to steal data from unsuspecting online users. It would be a huge risk to send sensitive data via public proxies as you wouldn’t know their host.
This proxy makes a connection between you and other websites secure, meaning that all your requests are encrypted, making it hard for hackers.
How to Identify the Right Proxy
Understanding the sensitivity of the data you possess is the first step in the right direction. Hackers mainly target data that may be used for their financial gain.
Suppose you believe hackers can use the data you possess and potentially cause a financial loss. In that case, you’d want to secure your online activity with a proxy that offers total security.
SSL Proxy is perfect for complete online privacy and security.
In this age of hackers and cybercriminals, proxies have more benefits to offer to online users. Since you never know when hackers may strike, masking your online presence should be highly prioritized to safeguard your data.