A Proxy Server (or Proxy) is a computer program, software, or website that when activated will allow you to connect to the port of the serving computer. This is beneficial because when you are connected to the Proxy, your IP (as well as your other personal information) is hidden.
For example, say you are visiting a site that tracks its visitors with cookies, installs spyware on your computer, or worse is a haven for hackers.
If you access this website directly with your computer, unscrupulous people can wreak havoc on your pc and have a field day with your personal information. They can install programs that you never intended to download, track your IP address, spy on your surfing habits (and begin to bombard you with junk email, solicitations, and all forms of nasty spam), and even monitor your computer activities to better target you with their schemes. A Proxy can spare you from this. Once you are connected to the Proxy, your IP address is hidden. This is called “anonymous surfing” and by surfing in this manner, you can rest assured that all of your information, surfing habits, and IP address are untraceable.
There are different types of Proxies and they all have different functions and capabilities.
As mentioned above, you can download and install a Proxy program that connects you to another computer’s port. This is referred to as: Proxy Software.
Another type of Proxy is the Web-Based Proxy. These are by far the most common and popular. To use a Web-Based Proxy, you do not need to download or install additional software or applications. Simply visit the website and enter the URL that you would like to view. By using this type of Proxy, you will bypass a direct connection with the intended website and view the site under the Web-Based Proxies IP address.
Some of the advantages of using Web-Based Proxies include the ability to surf the web by turning off certain applications, remove cookies, remove scripts, and disable banners and ads. Many people agree that Web-Based Proxies are the easiest and most effective to use. There are however problems with Web-Based Proxies as well. To start, if you are using a web-based proxy to bypass security, the security system will eventually crawl into your history and block the actual proxy website.
Although no one will ever know what websites you actually surfed through it, it will be blocked from further use. In addition, you may not surf secure web pages through the proxy. Secure pages realize that you are surfing through a proxy and simply do not let you enter.
Open Proxies are Proxy Servers that have been left open to the public. An open proxy is different from a web-based proxy in that you receive just an IP Address which you have to enter into your browser settings. If you are looking to use a proxy to bypass network security, you are out of luck. Security programs (mainly those that are installed in the school and work networks) block you from adjusting your browser settings. Using an open proxy is less secure than using a web-based proxy, but it does give you more freedom. Open proxies are generally used internationally for illegal activity while web-based proxies are used for bypassing network security software. Using an open proxy also has risks. Those who intend to track the activities of Internet surfers may leave a Proxy open intentionally.
Proxies offer many benefits. For those who wish to surf the web without fear that their steps are being monitored, watched, or that their privacy is being infringed upon, Proxies are an essential tool in providing that security and subsequent peace of mind. Using a proxy is a great way to make sure that you are surfing with the security and anonymity that you require.
To sum up, proxies are the “middle man” between you and your destination. Open Proxies are not very secure but are more convenient and give more freedom than web-based proxies do. A Web-Based Proxy is a proxy installed on a website. Although it may be less convenient surfing through another website, it is more secure and practical.
Generally, open proxies are used internationally to perform any illegal activity or to mask one’s IP to one from the United States. Web-Based Proxies are used to unblock websites through school and work computers.
The problem occurs because you have no idea who left the Proxy open, or why they did. Government officials often leave Open Proxies as traps for people using them for illegal activities.
The simplest way to tell if a Proxy is open or closed is whether or not you connect to the Proxy through one IP address or several. Also, look for proxies that require a username and password to ensure that they are closed.