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Anonymity – Common Proxy server Protocols and Types

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An anonymous proxy server is nothing but a computer system that acts as an intermediary between your computer and a different computer, thus keeping your computer hidden from the responding computer. Essentially all of your requests are sent to the proxy which acts as a man-in-the-middle between your destination and you. However the requests from the user are not anonymous to the proxy server.

Why do you need an anonymous proxy server?

An anonymous proxy server is a tool to anonymize your activities on the Internet by hiding your IP address. IP (Internet Protocol) address is unique to every one on the Internet. Websites record your activity based on your IP.

Image of proxy server

We do not want others to know what we searched for in Google or the websites we visited or what we said in IM conversations. If someone is watching, your identity and personal information is mostly available. Just like you have curtains on your Windows and Doors on your bedroom there is nothing wrong in expecting a certain level of privacy while using the Internet.

Common Proxy Protocols

HTTP Proxy

A proxy protocol used to route http requests usually coming from Web browsers. It is primarily used for viewing Web pages, images and downloading of files. All Browsers support this protocol. Generally supports non-encrypted HTTP connections, but some support HTTPS {SSL} and FTP connections.


There are two major versions of SOCKS proxy, SOCKS4 and SOCKS5. These proxies can work with TCP/IP protocol. SOCKS4 supports only the TCP communication without authentication. SOCKS4A added the support for resolving DNS names.

SOCKS5 supports UDP protocol, IPV6 and improved various authentication mechanisms. SOCKS proxies use only secure connections between the client application and the proxy server.

To keep it simple, generally a HTTP proxy server is the best when you need to open any web address beginning with http:// or https:// and SOCKS proxy servers are used to anonymize information when using programs like Skype, ICQ, MSN and email clients like Thunderbird or Outlook.

Web-based proxies

Web based proxies are websites that allow users to access other sites through them. There is no need to configure your browser in any way. You just have to visit a website that offers this service and enter the web address in a form provided to have the pages displayed to you. The web-based proxies provide their IPs to the destination servers instead of yours, thus providing anonymity.

Types of Anonymous Proxy Servers

A major consideration when selecting a proxy should be the type of proxy to go for. There are three common types of anonymous proxies. Transparent proxy, Anonymous proxy and Highly anonymous proxy. Highly anonymous proxies are sometimes called as Elite proxies.

When you view a web page or download a file or in any way communicate with a web server, your browser or the proxy server sends certain information about computer system, browser and most importantly your IP. Check what information is your browser is sending at Browser Security and Privacy Scanners.

It is easy to find your general geographical location using your IP. It is also possible to get your physical address through your ISP. This information is commonly leaked via HTTP header fields and environment variables.

We are primarily concerned with the following variables:

  • REMOTE_ADDR – The IP address from where the request was made.
  • HTTP_VIA – Information about proxies through which the request was made.
  • HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR – Reveals real IP behind the proxy.

No proxy: A system with no proxy displays your real IP to the Web servers with which you are communicating. The values in the fields may look like the following:

  • HTTP_VIA = No value (left blank)
  • HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR = No value (left blank)

Transparent Proxies: Least secure, but fast. It leaks your real IP and presence of a proxy in the following way:

  • REMOTE_ADDR = Proxy’s IP
  • HTTP_VIA = Proxy’s IP or name of the proxy software

Anonymous Proxies: Fairly secure. Determined servers can find that you are using a proxy server.

  • REMOTE_ADDR = Proxy’s IP
  • HTTP_VIA = Proxy’s IP
  • HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR = Random or Proxy’s IP

Highly Anonymous Proxies: Your system will look like a non-proxied system to the webserver. Provides better security. It sends the following information:

  • REMOTE_ADDR = Proxy’s IP
  • HTTP_VIA = No value (left blank)
  • HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR = No value (left blank)

How to check the type of proxy server – The following Websites determine and display the proxy information using the variables discussed above:

You can find a few web based free proxy servers and software right here at Free Anonymous Proxies and Free Anonymity and Proxy Software download.

Are you curious about information leaked by your browser? Check using our Free Browser Security and Privacy Scanners list.

A caveat when you look for proxy lists/services on the Internet, some in the free lists may be set up by criminals to sniff for personal information or hacked machines used without the knowledge of the owner. Never use anonymous proxies for online banking or any secure transactions. Research well and stick with long running services.

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