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What Is an Anonymous Proxy?

Enrika Pavlovskytė

2022-12-01
4 min read
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If there's one thing that proxies excel at, it's undoubtedly online security. Unsurprisingly, it’s the defining feature of anonymous proxies as well. Like many other proxy servers, they mediate the connection between you and a web server. However, a thing you're yet to discover is that different types of proxies provide varying levels of anonymity.

In this blog post, we'll explore different types of proxy anonymity and anonymous proxy use cases. Additionally, we'll discuss whether or not you should use free anonymous proxies.

Levels of proxy anonymity

Most proxies will shield the user’s information and provide some degree of anonymity (granted that the user obtained them from a reliable top-tier proxy server provider). There is only one situation in which you'll get no anonymity whatsoever, and that's with a transparent proxy. These proxies are implemented on the server side and typically disclose the IP address. In fact, three levels of proxy anonymity exist:

Level 1: Elite proxies 

Otherwise known as high-anonymity proxies, elite proxy servers offer the most privacy. In addition to hiding the IP address, they’ll also conceal the fact that the user is employing a proxy. This option is perfect for particularly challenging data gathering tasks where businesses cannot risk information privacy.

Elite proxies omit identifying headers when sending requests to the destination server. To keep the user entirely anonymous, the following headers might be removed:

  • Authorization

  • From

  • Proxy-Authorization

  • Proxy-Connection

  • Via

  • X-Forwarded-For

Level 2: Anonymous proxies

Anonymous proxies provide mid-level anonymity. They still conceal the IP address, but the destination server will know that the connection goes through a proxy. Unlike with elite proxies, some headers – such as the Via header – are passed along to the server.

Now, the fact that websites can identify these proxies means that some might block them. That's why, in some cases, it's better to use elite proxies. Alternatively, proxy server rotation can solve this problem.

Level 3: Transparent proxies

These proxies provide no anonymity to the client. They include the user’s IP address in the X-Forwarded-For, and keep the proxy IP visible in the Via header. 

You might wonder why someone would use a transparent proxy. As a matter of fact, users themselves don't employ transparent proxy servers. Instead, it's usually configured on the server side to control website traffic, and the user is rarely aware that their connection is directed through a proxy.

Anonymous proxies for personal and business uses

Anonymous proxies can be used for both personal and business purposes. Their ability to shield IP addresses is handy for a wide array of use cases.

In terms of individual uses, an anonymous proxy can enhance the browsing experience. If you want to avoid targeted ads, bypass geo-restrictions, or protect your search history, anonymous proxies are the way to go. Additionally, it can be a good preventative measure that protects against identity theft.

When it comes to business applications, it's not as straightforward. We've mentioned before that an anonymous proxy is unable to pass as a regular internet user. They only hide the original IP address. As a result, companies will find anonymous proxy servers suitable for general business use cases only. 

For example, if a company wants to scrape competitive data, conduct brand research, or similar, anonymous proxies might perform just fine. In other cases, an extra layer of security might be needed. 

Take an example where a business wishes to examine how customers feel about their brand by monitoring reviews. Many review sites block proxies by implementing CAPTCHAs and IP blocks which an anonymous proxy can seldom bypass. In this situation, the company might have to pay extra money and opt for elite proxies.

In general, it’s crucial to carefully assess the kinds of activities you’ll use an anonymous proxy for. While it'll be suitable for individual use and some general business situations, it’ll probably fall short of more complex tasks.

Should I use free anonymous proxies?

As we've already mentioned, some proxy servers are more expensive than others. Conversely, some people might argue that free proxies are a better option. It's certainly an attractive alternative but one that should be taken with a grain of salt. Free proxies can be anything from unreliable to downright dangerous, and, in most cases, it's simply not worth it. 

For example, free proxies rarely support HTTP(S) connections which are critical for secure browsing. Without it, the connection won't be encrypted, and your online activities might be monitored. To add to this security risk, proxy servers can access the user’s cookies. When using a trustworthy proxy provider with an appropriate customer privacy protocol, it's not a big issue. Unfortunately, this assurance isn’t guaranteed when using a free proxy, and private data may be at risk.

Last but not least, although premium proxy server providers go to great lengths to offer their clients first-rate services, the same cannot be said for free proxies. In fact, studies have revealed that the vast majority of publicly accessible proxies are unreliable or, even worse, contain malicious software.

In light of this, it's highly recommended that you use proxies from a trustworthy top-tier provider. This way, you'll have the assurance that you'll be able to carry out tasks safely and efficiently. For your interest, we've also gathered some valuable tips on the risks of free proxies in our blog post.

Wrapping up

Anonymous proxies can be a great pick for those seeking a straightforward proxy solution that disguises the IP address. However, it's crucial to evaluate the complexity of your task before choosing a proxy server. Indeed, some of your tasks might require more sophisticated proxies. If you want a seamless and hassle-free experience, be sure to do your research and pick wisely.

If this blog post piqued your interest, you might also enjoy reading about other types of proxies or taking an in-depth look at proxies for web scraping.

People also ask

How to solve common anonymous proxy errors?

While connecting through a proxy, you might receive the Anonymous Proxy Detected message. This means that the destination server has figured out you're connecting via a proxy. There are a variety of causes that range from a device disclosing the IP address, making too many requests with the same IP, or employing a poor-quality proxy.

Luckily, there are a few things you can try to fix the Anonymous Proxy Detected message. The first thing to do is close all applications before employing proxies. In addition, remember to clean up your browser's cookies and cache. In case this fails, try updating the proxy rotation. A shorter interval per session might also help.

Apart from Anonymous Proxy Detected messages, you might receive a proxy error. There are numerous types of proxy error codes, some of which have quick and straightforward solutions. We've written a blog post detailing the most common error codes and their solutions.

About the author

Enrika Pavlovskytė

Junior Copywriter

Enrika Pavlovskytė is a Junior Copywriter at Oxylabs. With a background in digital heritage research, she became increasingly fascinated with innovative technologies and started transitioning into the tech world. On her days off, you might find her camping in the wilderness and, perhaps, trying to befriend a fox! Even so, she would never pass up a chance to binge-watch old horror movies on the couch.

All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.

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IN THIS ARTICLE:


  • Levels of proxy anonymity

  • Anonymous proxies for personal and business uses

  • Should I use free anonymous proxies?

  • Wrapping up

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