We’re all becoming more aware of how companies and websites track our online movements. We’re frequently bombarded with news headlines regarding online privacy, breaches, and the myriad of apps and websites tracking users. This has driven many users to try and find better ways to protect their online activities.
In this article, we take a closer look at residential proxies, how they work and how these tools can help protect your online privacy. You can learn more about these proxies on this blog. Let’s see how a residential proxy can be a tool to help you regain control of your online security.
What Is a Proxy?
A proxy server acts as an intermediary between the users and the internet. The proxy is the middleman that protects you while you’re browsing the internet. What happens when you use a proxy that all your traffic goes through the server first? Then your request is given a new IP address before being sent on to the website server. The website server then processes the request and sends back information to the proxy and then on to you.
As such, you’re never actually interacting with the web servers. Instead, the proxy is doing this on your behalf. This keeps you protected from being tracked or having your data breached. By hiding your IP and re-routing all your traffic, most traditional tracking techniques, such as IP tracking, cookies, and even web beacons, no longer work effectively.
There are many different proxies, and as the demand for online privacy increases, specialized proxies are being developed. The most commonly discussed proxies tend to be residential, datacenter, and free proxies.
A few other specialized proxies include:
- Location-specific, like German, China, and Russian proxies
- Social media, like YouTube and Instagram proxies
- SERP proxies
The Difference Between Residential Proxies and Others
There are many different proxies. While all of them are the same at their core, i.e., to act as an intermediary between the users and the internet. However, the way they work and their unique features may differ slightly.
Residential proxies are more secure and more difficult to track. The IPs that are assigned to these connections come from real devices. This means when websites or apps look at the IP address, it doesn’t look suspicious. Other proxies, such as datacenter ones, aren’t linked to real IPs. Websites and apps can detect these and will know they aren’t real IPs. Then they can block that IP address.
Residential proxies are great if you want to protect your privacy online, access geo-restricted content, and they add an additional layer of security to your network. However, they can be slightly more expensive than datacenter proxies. They also tend to be a little slower than datacenter proxies.
Datacenter proxies are not linked to real devices. However, they are the ideal proxies to use to provide additional privacy and protection, as well as increasing connection speeds. They can be blocked easier since they don’t look like real users.
Benefits of Using a Residential Proxy
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using residential proxies:
- Online anonymity
- Reduces the risk of getting blocked
- Improves your online security
- Increases your connection and browsing speed
- Discover local deal
- Access geo-blocked content
- Business can use a proxy to manage multiple social media accounts
- Use it to verify ad campaigns
Can You Be Tracked While Using a Residential Proxy?
Using a residential proxy is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy, especially if you combine it with other protection measures. However, it’s not foolproof on its own. They can still be tracked, but not easily and not with the most commonly used tracking methods, such as tracking cookies.
In order to track someone using a residential proxy, you’ll need to use much more advanced techniques, such as device footprinting and other measures. Device footprinting relies on collecting various attributes of a user’s connection in order to create a unique ID or footprint.
A device footprint can consist of your IP address, device information, chosen browser, user string, and more. Because this tracking method is more sophisticated than relying solely on one of these identifiers, it can be used to partly track residential proxies. But, since residential proxies leave behind a minimal online footprint, even when using device footprinting, it will still be difficult to track.
Another way that proxies can be tracked is through machine learning (ML). Companies are leveraging machine learning to monitor and track behavioural signals to identify residential proxies. The way that traffic leaves a residential proxy has a different pattern than the traffic from real IP users. These behaviours can be detected and tracked through machine learning. However, this is usually more applicable to individuals who use bots alongside their proxies to automate certain actions. It’s much less effective at tracking users who use a proxy purely to protect their privacy while browsing.
Residential proxies are one of the best tools to protect your online privacy. Because they hide your IP and re-route all your traffic through their services, it’s extremely difficult for websites and apps to track you. This can be even more effective when you pair your use of a residential proxy with other privacy protection measures. This can include unique passwords and login credentials, removing app tracking permissions, rotating between browsers, or using a private browser.