From a hacker thing, proxy servers became a part of everyday life for millions. For example, you might need an Au proxy to enter an Australian website that’s closed for the rest of the world. Or enter Wikipedia from Turkey by pretending you’re somewhere else. Or hide your IP from a certain site you have to visit. Whatever: even if you don’t need a proxy now, you may need it tomorrow. So…
A proxy which means a mediator is a server that stands between your device (a computer, a smartphone or a tablet, even a TV or an IP camera!) and the remote server you try to reach. In fact, every Internet carrier offers you a proxy, so you use one even if you don’t realize it. But sometimes you need to use a third-party proxy.
Why? Because your carrier’s proxy is not configured for concealing your identity. On the contrary: it transfers your IP address to all the sites you visit, and, according to it, they can allow you or not. In the same way, your provider tracks the sites you are visiting, and if some of them are forbidden to visit, you will see a notification instead of the site content.
How do you overcome this blockade? With a third-party proxy server that substitutes your real data with its own. Therefore, an Indian site will recognize you as a guest from Punjab, and your government will see you visiting some innocent websites instead of the social media of your hostile neighbors.
There are mostly two situations when you (as a regular user, don’t flatter yourself and get conspiracies involved) need a proxy:
- You need to visit a resource blocked from you on your side. The block can be imposed by your country’s authorities or by your organization’s admins. The approaches are different: governments usually block particular sites, while admins may often batch-block sites by keywords (but not necessarily). In both situations, you need to enter forbidden sites via a proxy so that your network sees you visiting something else.
- You need to visit a resource blocked from you by its administration. The most popular example nowadays is Netflix which filters its content differently for various countries. If you want to view some series that aren’t officially available in your country, you need to pretend you’re from some country where it’s watchable. Then you substitute your real location with that provided by a proxy.
It’s worth noting that in the latter case, there might be issues caused by device fingerprinting. The author of this once tried to register on Spotify before it started operating in his country. Using a Dutch proxy worked for the moment, but later, as Spotify entered my country, I couldn’t use my credit card to subscribe: the service obviously expected a card issued in the Netherlands, considering other options as fraudulent. Well, these are the potential consequences. But as for the moment I wanted to reach Spotify, it worked out!
Like most web services, proxies can be paid or free. A free proxy is quite a frequent thing, easy to find and use. But there are two aspects that can turn you off from this. First, free proxies never grant you decent connection and speed. Second, they never grant you privacy and security, no matter what they say in their user agreement (if there even is one). Given this, compulsory ad watching on these sites isn’t even an issue.
Paid proxy servers, on the other hand, are usually hosted by companies that hold responsibilities for their offers. If your data leaks somehow, they will hold the responsibility; and if you cannot reach the site you’re here for, their support will work on the problem. Yes, they cost money, but most of the problems you experience with free servers don’t even arise with paid ones.
You must acknowledge, though, that paid proxies require authorization with your personal details. In most situations, they also offer a limited data volume over the period, so you should use a proxy only if it’s necessary and apply data-saving techniques.
In Italian, “prossimo” (a word directly related to our subject) means “next”. If you work with sensitive data, want to keep your identity hidden, or intend to reach beyond where your government allows, a proxy is your next step. So it’s time to watch for the best proxy around, for a purpose or just in case.
Have you ever been in a need of a proxy, for visiting a certain site or for anonymous browsing? We understand it’s a sensitive matter, but we’ll be glad to read your stories in the comments.