An anonymous web proxy allows anyone to surf the web anonymously (almost) through the web browser. It works by hiding the user’s IP address and any other identifiable information from the websites that they are visiting. This is great for protecting your online identity, or browsing websites that may be otherwise blocked from your location (work, school, library etc.). Privacy is the key benefit to using an anonymous web proxy. They prevent other websites from tracking your browsing habits while protecting your browser history at the same time. Also, they work from any computer, without downloading any software.
Here are three methods used to accomplish this:
- Use a website as the anonymous web proxy. (easier - explained in this article)
- Use a proxy server, integrated manually into the browser itself. (more difficult - see our article on ‘Anonymous Proxy Servers‘)
- Use an anonymous web browser (see ‘[anonymity software](../../07/anonymity-software/#browsers “Software that promotes Anonymity through Proxies”)‘) - Note: this isn’t classified as a ‘proxy’ but achieves the same thing through VPN or routing.
What they know about YOU
A lot of information can be gathered about you and your computer just from information that your browser provides to sites that you visit. Internet Explorer is the least safe browser (especially older versions of IE) which is why we strongly promote Firefox.
Take a look at http://gemal.dk/browserspy/. BrowserSpy is able to tell you an unbelievable array of info about your browser and computer. Check it out!
Using a website-based anonymous proxy:
This is the easiest method to achieve anonymity when surfing the web. Simply visit any anonymous web proxy website, and enter the URL address of a site you want to visit in their URL window box:
Here’s a list of three free (and trustworthy) anonymous web-based proxies:
- Proxify.com - SSL/HTTPS encryption (even your ISP won’t know where you’ve been).
- The Cloak.com
Anonymous Web Proxy Metasites.
These websites specialize in listing other anonymous web proxy sites. If you’re serious about using them, here are some good places for proxy resources:
Other features offered by anonymous web proxies:
- HTTP: and HTTPS: support (*However, do not use ANY free service for HTTP/S: transactions [ie. online banking/purchasing] unless it’s 100% necessary - and encrypted).
- Cookies are kept on their computer, not yours (and deleted after every session).
- Connection may be encrypted for added bonus (SSL or HTTPS)
- No software to install, just type in the site (URL) you want to go to.
- Some support ‘CGI’ and ‘PHProxy’ to allow viewing videos from youtube.com and content from other media-rich websites. Others will allow you to unblock myspace.com etc., on computers that won’t ordinarily allow it.
(This is a ‘common’ list of features, not specific to any one individual web proxy. Features will vary from one to the next).
When using an anonymous web proxy, the websites you are visiting no longer have any idea what/where you’ve been doing or surfing in the browser. However, the one site that DOES know this information, is the one you’re using to surf anonymously with in the first place. So your true IP is logged by them (and saved) plus all your connections, links and browsing history. If you plan to use this service to act maliciously or illegally (outside of the bounds of P2P), then this service won’t hide your tracks. In the case of a paid proxying service (i.e. a paid ‘VPN’ service such as Relakks.com), they will - in all likelihood - comply fully and readily to a court order requiring them to cough up your true identity - if the connection can ever be brought back to you. (Most of them explain this in their “disclaimer” or TOS - Terms of Service agreement).
Using an anonymous web proxy to search BitTorrent sites or other P2P web pages is an excellent way to provide an additional (perhaps needless) layer of protection. At last check, it wasn’t illegal to browse torrent websites or even just download them to your hard drive. As long as you employ [IP Blocking](../../04/ip-blocking-blocklists/ “IP Blocking & Blocklists for P2P applications”) techniques such as Peer Guardian when running P2P programs.
Anonymous web proxies ONLY protect you when surfing the Internet, not in P2P programs. The very instant you “open” a torrent file into your BitTorrent client, this service is completely useless (inapplicable) in protecting your identity. Always have PeerGuardian running before starting any torrents.
* Never use these services for secure transactions, like banking, shopping or anything else where your personal data is submitted. Although most free anonymous web proxies are genuine about their motives, there are unscrupulous ones waiting for the opportunity to harvest personal information. Just ask yourself this: What are the motives for offering a free service like this in the first place? And not all “anonymous” proxies are truly just that. Stick with the three listed up top.
A better, even safer method of anonymity is to use a proxy server. Not only can a proxy server make you anonymous while web-surfing, they can also be incorporated into most software that uses Internet access (P2P programs, browsers, FTP etc.).
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