There’s no doubt that proxies are changing, even during the lifetime of this website there have been significant developments. Over the years the supply of professional proxy and VPN services has escalated due to certain specific requirements that many people have. The biggest driver by far has been the need for privacy and anonymity although surprisingly from very different type of individuals.
The basic premise of a proxy server used across the internet is to act as a buffer between the client computer and the web resource it’s connecting to. By sitting between the two sides of the network connection, the proxy can shield the location and identity of the host computer. There’s all sorts of people who use them, from political activists living in authoritarian states to internet marketers who simply need to run multiple identities online.
The requirements will vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For example a basic proxy will rarely be sufficient for most tasks anymore, whereas there would have been no problem ten years ago using these for most tasks. Now there’s a problem with using the basic servers available from the proxy market primarily because most sites will block any type of data scraping session. That simple web scraping solution installed on your site to bring in data from other sources needs more protection in 2021. Some sites even have installed machine learning algorithms to detect when proxies are used to access their web data directly or via web scraping tools. Much of this detection focus is on the IP addresses themselves, which is why so many proxy services are moving away from traditional data center IP addresses.
If you’re worried about people eavesdropping on your connection and discovering your identity then certainly you’d also be wise to consider a level of encryption too. A proxy with a layer of encryption is effectively a VPN service (Virtual Private Network). For other people what’s much more important is the IP address assigned to the proxy server rather than hiding the exact connection information itself. This is because a primary driver for most commercial and data science tasks is not complete anonymity but to mimic multiple, ordinary home users.
Don’t Be Yourself Use Multiple Identities and Residential Proxies
People and businesses who operate online often need the ability to create and operate multiple digital identities. This could be for a variety of reasons including things like research, multiple scaping sessions or e-commerce. Unfortunately this isn’t really possible if you try and do this through a single network location like your office or home PC. The issue is that without using something like a proxy you’ll be locked into a single IP address which is located in a specific location. So a marketing company operating from Paris would find it very difficult to place an advert on a USA located site like the regionally split Craigslist.
This is where proxies come in and importantly the ability to switch or rotate the IP addresses that are assigned to your connection automatically. The correctly configured proxy can allow you to have multiple identities all over the world without ever leaving your PC. Without them you’d have to rack up the air miles travelling all over the world.
It opens up a myriad of options for all sorts of people. Millions of people for instance use a proxy/VPN server to watch TV that is normally blocked. As we speak there are thousands of people watching the BBC from Spain online something that is technically not supposed to be possible. All they do is hide their Spanish IP address by using a proxy server based in the UK which unlocks all the UK TV channels without a problem.
Many online entrepreneurs use proxies to operate digital identities across the world. By switching their IP addresses to match the target countries, they don’t need remote offices or to keep travelling for their data gathering. Investing in a rotating proxy servers allow firms to target global markets from anywhere in the world. They use them to run things like multiple social media accounts, data extraction tools – being able to collect data without the risk of detection and being blocked. There are lots of people running huge businesses on eBay and Craigslist simply by virtue of multiple accounts through these next gen residential proxies. With the right account, decent proxy management you can mimic a huge network presence from a single desktop at home.
Only the Next Generation Residential Proxies Keep You Hidden
There are issues though, with the traditional, standard proxies based in datacenters that we’ve all been using for years. This is due to the detection systems that many websites use in order to block the use of proxies. This is done for a variety of reasons, but especially to restrict access to international or duplicate connections. For example many internet marketers operate hundreds of social media accounts – a practice not popular with some of the platforms. A popular platform for marketers – Instagram restrict access or disable people’s accounts if they try and run even a couple of accounts from the same connection. They are even able to detect some proxies primarily based on their IP address ranges. Combined with sophisticated AI powered dynamic fingerprinting, it’s become much more difficult to hide and manage duplicate accounts. It’s very simple for a web site to instigate IP blocking against any suspected account of address originating from a commercially registered address.
With today’s machine learning technology, websites are able to identify a non-home user by the type of IP address they are using. Most addresses are classified as commercial or residential ranges, depending on where they are registered. Instagram will flag too many connections from commercial IP addresses, whereas those assigned by ISPs are normally treated much more favourably. Which is why you’ll find most people have switched to using residential proxies especially for commercial online activities. Initially it was difficult to find a proxy service provider who offered a residential proxy platform, fortunately this situation is changing.
The latest generation of next gen residential proxies actually use different IP address ranges. They specialize in routing their proxies through residential IP addresses, which are the same addresses assigned by ISPs to home users through their internet connections. These residential proxies look like human users and are much less likely to be identified as originating from proxies. E commerce sites typically will restrict access to any non-residential addresses in order to combat fraud.
Standard residential proxies though are hard to set up because of the difficulty in obtaining genuine residential IP addresses. They are not available as widely as datacenter IP addresses although there are numerous innovative methods to obtain access to them. For example Luminati have established a huge global network of residential addresses through individual home connections. In exchange for using tools, games and software the company can route traffic securely through these home connections. Many of the next gen residential proxies have been created like this using shared or borrowed home connections.
Other developments include gaining access to other sources of addresses which are difficult to identify as commercial connections. One example is to route traffic through mobile gateways and use the addresses normally assigned to our mobile devices. These are called mobile proxies which use address ranges which are used to allow network connectivity to our mobile phones and other devices. These are extremely difficult to detect and also it’s not really feasible to block access as they are so dynamic switching between users as they move around.
Obviously these IP addresses are very much in demand, however there also difficult to obtain so only a few providers offer them. One of the biggest providers is a company called Luminati who have the largest network of residential IP addresses and also a substantial network of mobile IPs too.