Lots of people believe the internet is anonymous, it is not. Very few ask what is a proxy server? You should know that every action taken on the internet is accompanied by a unique identifier or personal address.
This address is made up of a combination of your internet service provider’s identifier (BT, SKY etc.) and an assigned number of the computer or device on the network. This number is sent to every web page visited and is known as a public IP Address. A proxy server hides or rather replaces this information.
What is a proxy server
A proxy server is able to hide the information or your IP address by acting as a middleman. Instead of you connecting directly to the website, you connect to the proxy server or middleman. Once on the proxy server’s website, you type the website address you want to go to into the search box. The website then goes to the destination providing their own details (or IP address) and returns the results to you anonymously.
This way there is only ever a record of you visiting the proxy server, not the destination site.
Instructions to check if you are connected to a proxy server
- Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar.
- Type CMD in the text box on the taskbar
- Right-click the box above labeled Command Prompt and select run as administrator
- At the command prompt window (black screen) type netsh winhttp show proxy
- Press Enter
- The result will be displayed
Why does my employer use a proxy server?
Most businesses use proxy servers. They do this for practical reasons like the ability to convert your private IP address (address on your network) to a public IP address (address on the internet) to hide your identity from malicious threats.
But employers could also be using one to stop you from visiting certain websites or keep a log of all websites you are visiting and how long you are on those websites.
It is worth noting that just because you are connected to a site it does not mean you are physically looking at it. You might open a shopping site before work and forget to close it, the log will record this as time on the site.
My employer blocked websites can I still get to them?
Use a web-based proxy server to get to the blocked website. Search google for “free proxy server” or “proxy server list” or “proxy browser”. To use a proxy server type your destination address within the proxy server search box. Please note your employer may know you have been using a proxy server.
Types of proxy server
There are different types of proxy server. For instance, some proxy servers hide your identity completely and do not advertise that you are using a proxy. Others partially hide and announce they are a proxy server. Not all proxy servers hide your identity and some actually provide your IP address. It all depends on configuration.
Just because it is capable of hiding your identity it does not mean it is. Your employer might be using a proxy server for a different reason and not blocking your identity at all.
What are the dangers of using proxy servers?
Like everything in life and on the internet, there are dangers to consider. Unscrupulous individuals can also own proxy servers, avoid making payments via web-based proxy servers. In some countries proxy servers are illegal and some websites will blacklist you for trying to use a proxy server.
There is also the chance that your internet service provider will be unhappy about you using a Proxy Server.
It is worth noting that proxy servers are often slower. This is due to high traffic and the extended route your browsing has to take to remain hidden.
Are there other ways to search the internet anonymously?
Yes, there are other ways and using a proxy server is not the best way. You could also use a VPN Service or the Onion Router (TOR Browser). A free internet service provider such as a local coffee shop or library also provides a degree of anonymousness.
We understand why criminals or unsavory characters such as trolls might want to use proxy servers to hide their identity. For most people there really is no need. Your employer might be stopping you from visiting websites because they are high risk for viruses.
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