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 for most tasks. If you’re worried about people eavesdropping on your connection and discovering your identity then certainly you’d 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 connection information itself.
People and businesses who operate online often need the ability to create and operate multiple digital identities. 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. Investing in a rotating proxy servers allow firms to target global markets from anywhere in the world.
There are issues though, many websites seek to block the use of proxies to restrict access to international or duplicate connections. For example many market companies operate hundreds of social media accounts which is a practice not popular with some of the platforms. Instagram for example restrict access or disable people’s accounts if they try and run too many. They are even able to detect some proxies primarily based on their IP address ranges.
For example it’s fairly simple to identify a non-home user by the type of IP address they are using. Most 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 more favorably.
The latest generation of super anonymous proxies actually use different IP address ranges. 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.