A proxy server is a gateway that acts as a middleman between you and the digital world. It filters your internet connection through a server that masks your IP address and location. One of the most popular types is called a SOCKS5 proxy.
SOCKS5 is the newest variant of the SOCKS series. SOCKS is the shorthand for “SOCKetS” and is an Internet protocol that connects two computers together through a SOCK server. The new and improved SOCKS5 proxy variant uses a layer 5 protocol, meaning it supports all types of requests that sit above layer 5 in the OSI model. Most regular internet activities can be handled by SOCKS5, changing your IP for web browsing, peer-to-peer sharing, and file transfers.
Doesn’t a SOCKS5 Make Connections Private?
What is SOCKS5 proxy capable of?
While a proxy does provide anonymity by changing your IP address, it doesn’t ensure complete privacy. The added advantage of SOCKS5 versus its previous generation, SOCKS4, is that it supports authentication methods. This makes it more secure and more appealing to most.
What is SOCKS5 Proxy?
A SOCKS5 proxy allows your internet traffic to pass through a SOCKS server. This generates a new IP, making you look like you’re originating there.
For example, say you were traveling in the Philippines, but trying to access videos in Canada. The website will block some content because it can’t be shown in both countries. IP address locators are used to determine where you are and what you can watch.
How Does SOCKS5 Work?
The SOCKS5 proxy captures the requests sent by you and forwards it to the intended recipient, making it look like you’re wherever the SOCKS server is. This means that you can access more content by making yourself look like you’re in other places around the world.
It also helps to hide where you actually are, preventing people who may be watching your traffic from knowing your real location.
Changing Your IP for Increased Security
The most important thing that a SOCKS5 proxy does is free you from the shackles of an IP. While an IP is necessary if you want to access any online network, it is a security nightmare. Almost anyone is free to use your IP to find very specific information about you, leading to even larger privacy invasions.
When you connect to a SOCKS5 proxy, you’re not connecting to a VPN. A VPN does a lot more when it comes to encryption and data handling, but that can significantly impact your speed. VPN servers are designed to encrypt all of your data while it’s being sent over the network. VPN protocols, in fact, also tell their servers how to send and verify data. We go into a little more detail on how VPN servers work in another article and even cover a few protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2 that regulate communication with VPN servers.
Enter SOCKS Proxies
Proxy servers, on the other hand, are a little different. They don’t spend time encrypting your communications. They generally don’t have complex handling instructions. Generally, proxy servers like a SOCKS5 proxy only change your IP address, increasing your security a little.
Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Not every bit that travels through your router ports needs to be encrypted. Wanting to be free to use the Internet without being easily identified is a perfectly legitimate use of proxy servers. SOCKS5 proxy is ideal if you don’t want to expose your personal network to outsiders, but don’t need the total protection offered by a VPN.
Another thing to keep in mind is the ports that you’re using to connect. “Ports” are the “doors” between your home network and the Internet. Because so much information is passing between your computer and the wider world, it needs to be regulated. Each one of these “doors” is assigned a particular kind of information that travels through it. That way your web browser doesn’t have to wait for your Usenet download to finish before loading a web page.
Proxy servers tend to use different “doors” to travel through than something like a VPN. And like doors in the real world, some are more heavily guarded than others. So your SOCKS5 proxy might mask your IP, but it’s not necessarily as secure as a VPN because of the port is goes through. That being said, it also is able to get through that port a lot more quickly.
SOCKS5 Proxy vs. Other Proxies
SOCKS5 proxies are comparable to SOCKS4, which provide many of the same benefits. The main difference is that with the latest version, you can use various authentication methods. Before, you would connect to the server, but others could still see what you were sending. Now, depending on the provider, a connection to the SOCKS5 proxy server can be done via a one-time password, SMS code, authenticator code, etc. This adds another layer of protection to your connection. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s fast and reasonably safe.
Another proxy server you may be familiar with is SSL, which sits at layer 7. SSL is built mainly for application proxies such as HTTP and HTTPS traffic. While very powerful, it wouldn’t allow a wide variety of other Internet activities other than web browsing.
Sitting between layer 4 and layer 7 allows SOCKS5 proxies to accept more types of requests than SSL while providing more security than SOCKS4.
Should I Use A Free SOCKS5 Proxy?
In the same way that you can get a free VPN, you can free SOCKS proxies all over the Internet. And you might be tempted to use one. Unless it comes with a paid VPN or similar subscription, don’t.
Unfortunately, by using a lot of free proxies, you’re opening yourself to new security threats. A number of free IP proxies will collect your browsing data and sell it to advertisers. It’s how they make their money. Sure, your IP address is hidden, but being on their network gives them direct access to your activity. Especially if you’re not using encrypted SSL ports.
What Should I Use Instead?
There are a lot better ways to mask your IP. Either get your SOCKS5 proxy through a credible VPN like PrivadoVPN or sign up for any of the stand-alone paid proxies available online. Free proxies just aren’t worth the risk.
SOCKS5 Proxy vs. Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
While SOCKS proxies are good at hiding IPs, they are still limited in many ways. This is especially true when it comes to your actual data. It’s because of that that many people prefer their SOCKS proxy to be part of a VPN service instead.
One of the limitations of a SOCKS5 proxy is the lack of data encryption. This is the biggest difference between a proxy and a VPN: the latter encrypts your data end-to-end. You are only masked with a SOCKS5 proxy. VPN actually encrypts your data.
Think of encryption as a scrambler: it takes your data and scrambles it into a code that is only decipherable by you and the intended recipient. Even if a hacker were to intercept your connection, they wouldn’t be able to understand it. The encryption provided by a VPN not only protects your identity, but it also hides any data exchanged.
ISP and Government Firewall
With a VPN connection, data security starts at the root of the request (your computer). On the other hand, SOCKS5 proxy masking starts when the data is received at the proxy server. This means that your Internet service provider can monitor your network activity with a SOCKS5 proxy, but not on a VPN network. If a government body is blocking certain websites, it will often do it through an ISP activity monitoring firewall. Using a VPN allows you to bypass these protocols. SOCKS5 proxy does not.
The biggest advantage of the SOCKS5 proxy is that, because it doesn’t do any encryption, it can direct requests at a higher speed than VPN servers. That is why many users will opt to use a combination of both a SOCKS5 proxy and a VPN network to protect their online activity without sacrificing speed. SOCKS5 VPN features are great ways to improve your privacy while keeping your speed as high as possible.
Moral of the Story: Use a VPN and SOCKS5
SOCKS5 proxies are a game-changer for privacy, IP masking, and speed. However, when it comes to the security of your data and complete anonymity, you still need that extra layer of encryption that only comes from a VPN.
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