The trouble with many definitions and descriptions with regards proxy servers is that there are very few standards. The time has passed when you could just browse through proxy lists searching for things like a UK or United States proxy server. Many of these simply don’t work anymore any sense of anonymity ruined because they don’t actually hide your real IP address or header information when you use them.
Many providers simply tag their own descriptions or opinions onto a convenient title. Some of the favourites are descriptions like anonymous and elite which you’ll often find used to explain the security level of a service. Obviously you would expect an elite proxy to provide a high level of both anonymity and security, however that’s not always the case.
What is an Elite Proxy ?
Don’t be fooled by the descriptions used online. There’s hundreds of proxy list web sites which label proxies as elite with the very minimum level of security. Sure they’ll label them secure and even group them by proxy country, but they carry all sort of risks to your computer and data. Most of these sites are just trying to sell a service, that elite proxy switcher will most often just switch through insecure free proxies it finds online. Also that web page offering a free portal to hundreds of anonymity proxies is very unlikely to be accurate. Setting up, maintaining and using a proxy and keeping it secure requires technical expertise, time and money – i.e. so it won’t be available for nothing or be supported by a few adverts.
These proxy descriptions are often used completely inappropriately, substituted or simply swapped around. Using them to hide your real IP address is not a good idea, as many of them simply don’t work properly. Calling something elite doesn’t make it so!
However there are some fairly standard definitions of these terms which are generally accepted by the majority of the IT community. So whether you’re looking for a basic HTTP proxy or just something to supplement HTTPS then it’s worth reading the below terms.
Here’s the three based standards which you will find referenced the most.
- Transparent Proxy
- Anonymous Proxy
- Elite Proxy
There are many other definitions but these are fairly standard and you’ll find them used by most of the serious proxy service providers and of course in thousands of lists available on the internet. It’s worth learning these terms and checking them against the proxy provider you choose. If they don’t know what you’re talking, evade the questions then move onto another company.
So here’s the three basic types of proxies –
The standard definition of a transparent proxy is a basic proxy which does not alter user information in any way. The proxy will simply pass the information along without modifying or hiding it in any way. The important factor to remember with regards security is that a transparent server will not hide the original IP address in any way.
Transparent proxies are able to transmit all standard HTTP traffic and the user does not need to make any modifications at all. There’s no real anonymity or security aspect to using these proxies, in fact they’re generally used to simply speed up access or act as a buffer in internal networks to internet access.
Many firms install them in their DMZ to create a barrier between desktop clients and the internet in general. It allows a single point where traffic can be monitored and checked for viruses without having to check each individual PC. All the relevant headers will transmitted including the following –
- REMOTE_ADDR – includes the proxy IP
- HTTP_VIA – includes the proxy software being used
- HTTP_X_FORWARDER_FOR – includes client IP address
With regards to caching functionality, an anonymous proxy has the same functionality as the transparent server above. The major difference as suggested by the name is of course the ability to provide a level of anonymity to the client and proxy connection. This group probably represent the most common type of proxies that are available online.
The anonymous proxy server will attempt to forward the same headers –
However the true information will not be included in these fields, which will either be null or filled in with incorrect information depending on configuration.
So that just leaves us with the last and most frequently abused category, that of elite proxies. It is described as the highest level of security and potentially gives the most privacy and anonymity online. There are specific requirements but the overall concept is that an elite proxy will be undetectable and provide no traces of a proxy being used.
Also the real ‘client IP address’ should not be visible at all, this is essential in providing anonymity. If your actual IP address is visible this would negate all anonymity as it’s individually assigned to your internet connection especially if you’re using a home connection.
In this scenario the above headers are not forwarded at all, which is essential otherwise it would be evident that a proxy was being used. Any server specifically designed for a certain purpose like these which are used for Ticketmaster are likely to be configured as elite level proxies.
How Can I Get a Free Proxy
There are literally thousands of proxy services listed on many free proxy list pages which are little more than a basic install on shared hosting. They can usually be used for free but offer no internet privacy at all and the IP addresses they use will almost certainly be on most internet blacklists. If you need them as a country filter or with social networks and accounts then be aware that not only won’t they protect your anonymity there’s a real risk that your data and identity is being monitored and harvested too.
Many of the servers on these lists aren’t even running proxy servers intentionally, they’re hacked or compromised servers which have been picked up by the proxy scraping scripts that build these lists. Often hackers install the proxy software in order to infect computers or your web browser. They don’t generally work even on the most basic tasks anymore like bypassing things like the UK TV block on sites like BBC iPlayer.
Even if you only use them in a limited manner, there’s a real risk that your data could be intercepted. Many of them redirect your web browser to infected websites where you could end up losing your credit card details or other personal information.
Choosing a Safe and Secure High Anonymity Proxy
Using an elite proxy is the most advanced degree of security as it provides the best protection and privacy on the Internet. If privacy is your core concern you should definitely be looking at elite level proxies like the ones supplied by the premium proxy providers. They can supply you with working proxies which are safe to use and hide the fact evidence of the proxy connection too. Many tasks now also require residential IP addresses too, some firms even supply proxy rotation systems which can switch as your requirements change.
If you want to take a look at a company that is well respected and will enable you to both IP hide your location and keep your data secure then take a look at these two companies –
Luminati – the world’s largest proxy service providers. Not the cheapest but guaranteed security and anonymity – a quality service which you can configure yourself using their proxy manager.
IPBurger – company who I’ve used for internet marketing and eBay. One of the few companies able to provide specific geo targeting of their proxies which is essential for many services.