August 2, 2010

Be Anonymous while browsing Web: An Introduction to Proxy Server and list of proxy services available online.

Schematic representation of a proxy server
Proxy server- In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application program) that acts as a go-between for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource, available from a different server. The proxy server evaluates the request according to its filtering rules. For example, it may filter traffic by IP address or protocol. If the request is validated by the filter, the proxy provides the resource by connecting to the relevant server and requesting the service on behalf of the client. A proxy server may optionally alter the client's request or the server's response, and sometimes it may serve the request without contacting the specified server. In this case, it 'caches' responses from the remote server, and returns subsequent requests for the same content directly.

A proxy server has two purposes:

  • To keep machines behind it anonymous (mainly for security).

  • To speed up access to a resource (via caching). It is commonly used to cache web pages from a web server.
A proxy server that passes requests and replies unmodified is usually called a gateway or sometimes tunneling proxy.

A proxy server can be placed in the user's local computer or at various points between the user and the destination servers or the Internet. A reverse proxy is a proxy used as a front-end to accelerate and cache in-demand resources (such as a web page).

List of Proxy Servers/Services

  • Anonymouse - Free anonymous surfing.

  • Art of IP Bending - Based on Avatar, branch of CGI Proxy with SSL support.

  • FilterSneak - Anonymizer to bypass web filters with script and cookie management.

  • Proxify - Free web proxy with optional removal of cookies, scripts, ads and referrers. Requires cookies.

  • SlyUser - CGI Proxy site to bypass filters at home, work, or school.

  • Vtunnel - Web proxy supporting SSL via the HTTPS encryption protocol.

  •  - Contains various lists of web based proxies, as well as a forum to discuss related topics.

  • A-Z Proxies - Provides a list of web based proxies as well as proxy related articles and resources.

  • Digital Cyber Soft - List of free anonymous HTTP proxies.

  • Fast Proxy Network - A network of web based proxy sites which also contains a list of anonymous proxies.

  • Free Proxies Network - List of free CGI Proxy websites with proxy verification tool.

  • Free Proxy Site - SOCKS4/5, anonymous HTTP and web based proxy lists.

  • Free Public Proxy Servers List - Regularly updated HTTP open / public proxy list.

  • Great Proxy List - Human verified list of proxy related web sites.

  • My Proxy - HTTP Proxy lists updated daily.

  • NNTime - Regularly updated list of anonymous, high-anonymous, transparent and Planetlab/CoDeeN proxies.

  • Proxies At Work - Lists proxy servers and web based proxies.

  • Proxy Beat - List of free web based proxies.

  • Proxy Blind - Information about using proxy servers for privacy, with socks and proxy lists as well as proxy related tools and resources.

  • Proxy List - Automatically checked proxy list providing proxy type, latency, country and uptime.

  • ProxyDex - A large list of web based proxies.

  • Proxyleech - Checked list of anonymous and transparent proxies searchable by country.

  • Proxy-List - User submitted anonymous and transparent proxy lists which are automatically tested, and results posted.

  • ProxyLists - Free HTTP and Socks proxy lists.

  • ProxyRom - A list of proxies which users can rate and comment on.

  • Sweet Proxies - Source of fresh free web proxies.

  • Unblocked - Provides various web proxy lists depending on the users requirement.

  • Web Proxy List - Web proxies sorted by ping time and IP address.

  • WorkingProxies - Open proxy server list sorted by user rating.

  • XGXI - Comprehensive list of working web based proxies.

  • Xroxy - Proxy list sortable by type, anonymity level, port and latency.
Risks of using anonymous proxy servers
In using a proxy server (for example, anonymizing HTTP proxy), all data sent to the service being used (for example, HTTP server in a website) must pass through the proxy server before being sent to the service, mostly in unencrypted form. It is therefore a feasible risk that a malicious proxy server may record everything sent: including unencrypted logins and passwords.

By chaining proxies which do not reveal data about the original requester, it is possible to obfuscate activities from the eyes of the user's destination. However, more traces will be left on the intermediate hops, which could be used or offered up to trace the user's activities. If the policies and administrators of these other proxies are unknown, the user may fall victim to a false sense of security just because those details are out of sight and mind.

The bottom line of this is to be wary when using anonymizing proxy servers, and only use proxy servers of known integrity (e.g., the owner is known and trusted, has a clear privacy policy, etc.), and never use proxy servers of unknown integrity. If there is no choice but to use unknown proxy servers, do not pass any private information (unless it is over an encrypted connection) through the proxy.

In what is more of an inconvenience than a risk, proxy users may find themselves being blocked from certain Web sites, as numerous forums and Web sites block IP addresses from proxies known to have spammed or trolled the site.

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