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A great number of men and women on the internet do not even know what a proxy is, let alone how to properly use one. There is nothing incorrect about not knowing, but being intimate with proxies is vital to staying safe on the internet. However, before you can fully understand utilizing proxies (which will be covered in a future blog post), it is best to have some background info on what you are dealing with.

What is a proxy?

A proxy is a mediator between you and the content you are viewing or looking for on the internet. It is similar to any other sort of middleman – for example, Best Buy is the intermediate between you and its manufacturer. In that same regard, a proxy is a middle person between a website and you. The proxy grabs all of the content from a website and then passes that data to you.

Why do I need to use a proxy?

So why would one need a middle person for internet related things? In a retail situation (think back to Best Buy), it makes sense: it is easier for the customers and manufacturers to communicate with Best Buy than for the manufacturer to personally seek out customers. This is a big difference from the internet where you have direct access to information! Regardless of this dissimilarity, there is a key aspect being overlooked: your identity. Without a proxy exchanging data to you from the website, the website is communicating directly with you and your computer. Now that website has your information. It has your IP address.

What can my IP address be used for?

Your IP address looks just like a proxy, for example 127.0.0.1. Comparable to a phone number, an IP address identifies you on the internet as a number. You would be amazed about what your IP address can reveal. A technology exists called IP Geo Targeting that uses your IP to, as the name implies, find your geographic location. View an example of Geo IP Targeting. Returning to the phone number analogy, phone numbers too can be Geo Targeted. If you followed that link, you probably noticed that your IP address has been associated with your city and zip code, or somewhere fairly close. You should be starting to understand how websites can include your city in their advertisements – think of all the times you have seen an advertisement like, “Local Singles Near [your city]!” or something along those lines.

In addition to advertising, hackers can use your IP address to specifically target malicious attacks to your computer. If a hacker is persistent enough, she/he can always eventually get in to your computer or your home network, especially if your computer is already at risk due to malware.

Anonymous proxies are necessary for staying safe on the internet

Thinking back to the phone number metaphor: you wouldn’t call random strangers from your personal phone and divulge your phone number (and ergo geographic location), would you? Most likely not. Staying anonymous online is a critical and crucial step in the direction of being safe online.

When a proxy acts as the intermediate between you and the desired resource or website, the website will see the IP address of the proxy instead of yours. This will prevent your location from being identified and avoid your real IP information being logged in website’s visitor records. A short version is that your IP address is not broadcast to the internet, but instead the IP address of the proxy is. However, you will only be cloaked and remain anonymous IF your proxy is classified as ‘anonymous’ or ‘high-anonymous elite’. Anonymous proxies do a much better job at obscuring your identity, making sure that you are not leaving yourself and your computer vulnerable to tracking and attacks.

 

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