A Proxy is an intermediary in internet, intranet, or other related network communications.
After a fresh installation of an operating system, no proxy settings are used by default, however you can choose to use one and that proxy server will act as your default gateway to the internet.
However, proxies are not restricted only to the operating system. As far as proxies go, we can divide them into the following categories:
Web proxies – which are websites that allow you to enter a URL, and by clicking a button, the website’s (server’s) IP address will appear as the client on the server that hosts the website you’ve entered. (example: you go to www.1unblock.com and you enter www.youtube.com)
Suffix proxies – which are sub-domain based proxies, that are more usable than web proxies. (example: you go to youtube.aproxywebsite.com and it will automatically redirect you to youtube.com, but on a connection that uses a proxy)
Normal proxies – these are the typical servers, ran on the operating system level as daemon. These proxies require you to set-up the IP and port of the proxy server in whatever software you want to use (example: to mask your Pidgin traffic, you use the settings only in Pidgin, but if you want to mask all your traffic, you use the settings at the operating system level, or individually for every application)
Proxies are used to keep the users behind them anonymous on a certain level.
Proxies in general rely on websites that provide a list with servers and ports (for regular proxies), or a list with websites (for web proxies).
Even though proxies, NAT connections, Tor or VPN are used for anonymity, please don’t think they are all the same.
They all use an intermediary machine, through which you communicate with a server, but every one of them has a different number of security layers adapted to it: NAT doesn’t have any security layer at all, whilst any form of proxy is secure in contrast.
Using proxies, most of the tasks you do online, or the websites you browse, won’t know your real identity, however web services that need details about the client, will override the connection from HTTP to HTTPS (a thing that some proxies won’t be able to bypass) or even block the entire connection until you connect directly without a proxy.
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