What is Anonymous Proxy and How does it Work?
Gleb Lepeshkin
Gleb Lepeshkin Published: 2022/08/02

In our blog we often cover various types of proxies based on some specifics related either to origination or use of such proxies. By now, we covered the differences between backconnect (or rotating) and static proxies. We also considered various proxies based on the protocol used by the servers (HTTP(S) or SOCKS). And, of course, we touched upon the major difference in proxies based on their origin: datacenter (DC) proxies or residential IPs

Now it’s time to consider one big aspect of proxy performance: anonymity. You already know that all proxies are meant to hide your original IP while you access a remote target website with some mission. Obviously, you need to stay anonymous in doing so, since some sites are sensitive to proxies and can easily ban such connection requests. 

In this article we will talk about anonymous proxies and the level of anonymity of various proxies. You will learn that not all the proxies are meant to be completely anonymous. Surprise, surprise! And there are reasons for that. We will also discuss the most common use cases for dedicated anonymous proxy service based on the level of anonymity. But we will start with the traditional definition of what the anonymous proxy actually means. So, what is a proxy anonymizer? Let’s find out below. 

So What is an Anonymous Proxy Service?

What does an anonymous proxy mean? As you can see from the name an anonymous proxy (a.k.a. anonymizer, proxy anonymizer, or hidden proxy) connects to the target server on your behalf but as if it was doing it on its own. This ensures the much needed anonymity for your online mission, where your original IP and location remain unknown to the target. 

Both datacenter (DC) proxies or residential IPs can serve as anonymous. The term anonymous denotes the type of mediation between you and the target website.

There are three levels of anonymity when it comes to proxy servers. There are:

Transparent proxies. These proxies do not hide your IP and show the target website that you are connecting through a proxy. Such proxies are also known as forced or intercepting proxies. They are used in public WI-FI networks at hotels or airports for restricting access to some websites. Needless to say that the connection via such proxies is insecure for the lack of encryption. A request that comes through a transparent proxy remains unchanged and unmodified. This makes transparent proxies different from non-transparent, where the requests can be modified in order to add a level of anonymity to the proxy user. 

Anonymous proxies. An anonymous proxy means that here your IP is not revealed to the target, instead it is replaced by a new one in the header (by HTTP_VIA line). This informs the target site that you are connecting via a proxy. And this is the main difference between an anonymous proxy and an elite proxy (that we will discuss below). With an elite proxy both your original IP and the fact that you are using a proxy server are concealed. Where in the case of using an anonymous IP, the proxy will reveal the fact of using a proxy server. So, some proxy-sensitive sites may restrict access to them, having detected that you are connecting through a proxy.  

Elite proxies (or High Anonymous proxy). This type of anonymous proxy features the top level of anonymity. All the information that can potentially divulge the presence of a proxy in the connection is hidden. You basically appear as another regular user to the target you are connecting to. But how does this proxy do that? The point is that there are 3 headers that a target web server receives from the browser. Such headers contain IP addresses that are used as identifiers. For elite proxies, headers HTTP_VIA and HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR do not contain any information. And since these two headers remain blank, the target has no way of knowing that the request is coming through a proxy. The third header REMOTE_ADDR gets modified with an IP given by a proxy. This setup is more secure for hiding your identity online and you get treated as a regular user by the target.

How Do Anonymous Proxies Work?

The principle of work of anonymous proxies should be familiar to you by now. Such proxy accepts your requests and routes it through an intermediate server and later returns the results from the target website. What is important to remember is that your real IP is not revealed during the information transfer. Instead, it is replaced by the IP of the proxy. All this allows your device to appear as a regular user for the target website. 

If you are cautious about the security aspect of your proxies, you need to build a long-term relationship with your proxy provider. Beware providers that are ready to offer you anonymous proxies for free. In this case you are most likely to get shared, overused proxies and leak your personal data to the third party. 

In other words, free anonymous proxies normally act as traps set up by hackers or authorities to steal your data. So, always go to trusted vendors of proxy services for your set of proxies. Later we will cover the main risks of using anonymous proxies and you will understand how “free proxies” can play a bad joke on you. 

Why You Should Use Anonymous Proxies

If your question is how to use an anonymous proxy? We can definitely say that such proxies are great tools for various applications. We are talking about cases that cover both the private and the business sectors. Regular users can apply anonymous proxies for evading censorship online and accessing geo restricted content. If you ever ask yourself: “How does a proxy server improve security?” Follow this link to read an in-depth article on the subject. 

Internet marketers and the whole research teams can use anonymous proxies for lead gathering and reputation intelligence missions. Other companies use such proxies for brand protection. Anonymous proxies are perfect for use inside web scrapers and various crawlers.

Anonymous Proxy vs Other Types of Proxy

There are a few types of proxies other than anonymous proxies. Here are these types in accordance with the use cases:

Transparent proxies. Such proxies are normally used in companies where it is important to communicate to the target that the user is using a proxy. This way, the header of the user’s browser is made clear to the website that you are accessing. It may be good for content filtering cases or Internet traffic monitoring in cases of public wifi, for instance.   

High-anonymity proxy or elite or private proxy. These IPs are normally residential or datacenter proxies that make it virtually impossible for the target site to identify the real IP of the end user. This is useful for data collection or scraping missions online.

Distorting proxies. Distorting proxies are somewhere in the middle between transparent and private proxies. They change the IP of the end user and the header somewhat in order to hide the presence of the user on the target. Such proxies are normally datacenter and can be detected by anti-bot systems on some target websites. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Anonymous Proxy

The following are some of the advantages of anonymous proxies:

Privacy protection. With an anonymous proxy, your IP becomes hidden and you can play around with the traffic by encrypting it. This way you provide another layer of anonymity to your system during browsing.

Bypassing geo-censorship. With anonymous proxies you can access websites that otherwise would be off-limits to your system, since the content on these sites is meant to be blocked for the country of your origin. 

Enhanced security. An anonymous proxy can be a good tool for protecting your system against cyberattacks and threats.

Access geo-restricted content. Anonymous proxies can help you access sites with geo-restriction, such as video streaming services or gaming sites that are available in a limited number of countries. 

These are some disadvantages of an anonymous proxy:

Slower connection speeds. Your internet connection can be slowed by using an anonymous proxy due to the routing and encryption involved in the process.Security risks. Not all anonymous proxies are reliable from a security perspective. Some of these proxies can log your internet activities, thus exposing you to security vulnerabilities.

Setting Up Anonymous Proxies 

Once you decide that you need to set up anonymous proxies for your Internet activities, contact one of our account managers and explain the details of your use case. Depending on the specifics of your case, you will be awarded some proxies for free as a part of the trial campaign. 

Once you receive a set of proxies (for trial or by buying them directly from us), you will be granted access to your dashboard panel inside our server. Using this web interface you will be easily capable of seeing and accessing your proxies. You will see IPs available to you with authentication information (username and password) for each proxy. 

Straight from the dashboard you will be able to copy and paste your proxies into your browser or script (bot or app) of your choice. 

If you are a novice user of proxies, our experienced account managers will advise you on how to set up your proxies for immediate use. 

Anonymous Proxy Usage

What is an Anonymous Proxy? A Clear Explanation

So, what is an anonymous proxy server good for? We have touched upon some use cases of such proxies above, now let’s go deeper into details of how they can be used in personal life and for business. 

You should definitely consider using anonymous proxies if you want to:

  • See less targeted ads online;
  • Solve geo-restriction issues;
  • Get around censorship;
  • Protect your search history.

And when it comes to business related matters, anonymous proxies will help you in:

  • Scraping multiple websites for reputation and price intel with or without bots;
  • Managing multiple social media accounts;
  • SEO monitoring;
  • Testing ad activity of your online campaigns; 
  • Buying rare sneakers online, 
  • Optimizing network caching, 
  • Travel fare aggregation, and more.

With good anonymous proxies you can solve virtually any problem that requires the use of proxies. 

How to Disable Anonymous Proxies in Case You Need

In case you need to disable your anonymous proxy, simply delete its IP from the relevant section of your browser or deactivate it inside a bot by deleting the IP and authentication details. If you still have troubles disabling your proxy or you detect some anomalies in your browsing experience, please contact our account manager to help you solve this issue.  

Can the Usage of Anonymous Proxy Servers Be Risky

Most risks with anonymous proxy services come from “free proxy servers” that can be luring regular users to using such IPs for leaking their data to the third party or government. In other words, if you want to avoid risks using anonymous proxies choose your provider carefully. Make sure that your provider has enough experience in the field and boasts good tech support of the proxies it offers. If you are not sure about the quality of the proxies you are currently using, you can read our article on how to test proxies to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for with publicly available proxy checkers. 

Proxies are legal tools almost everywhere in the world, although, in some countries you should use them with caution. In China, for example, you can be prosecuted for accessing forbidden or censored content.

And again, you can get caught by using free proxies used as traps by the government who wants their citizens to obey the regulations of the Great Chinese Firewall.

Another risk may be coming from hackers who also like to use free proxy services as baits for phishing operations.    

Consider PrivateProxy Your Trusted Partner

We at PrivateProxy are proud to share the best practices in deploying anonymous proxies that we have collected over a decade of our service to our clients. Being our customer means that you will always have the most reliable IPs in the industry and round-the-clock tech support to make sure that your online operation is performed in a smooth and timely fashion. 

You can always approach us on the specifics of your use case involving anonymous proxies, meaning that we are ready to provide you with a prompt solution in the form of a set of proxies and technical advice. We value our reputation and having return customers who buy private proxies from us means building long-term business relationships.   

Final Thoughts

As you could learn from our article, proxies can be extremely useful in personal and enterprise applications. You can override geo restrictions on censored sites to get to the content you want, or use them for operating multiple social media accounts. You can get ahead of the line in buying rare sneakers, or collect valuable data for reputation intelligence. One thing you should not forget, though, is to source anonymous proxies only from the reputable providers to lower the risk of divulging your IP to the third party.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Please read our Documentation if you have questions that are not listed below.

  • How do I use an anonymous proxy?

    An anonymous proxy has a whole variety of areas of application. You can use such a proxy for both personal and enterprise purposes. It would be a great aide in avoiding unnecessary ads online or overriding geo restrictions. For businesses autonomous proxies can be used in web scraping, managing multiple social media accounts, reputation intelligence data parsing, purchasing rare items online, and more.

  • How do I know if my proxy is anonymous?

    You can check it on any website that will reveal your browser headers. If the headers contain no information about your original IP, then your proxy can be considered anonymous.

  • How do anonymous proxies hide my identity on the web?

    With anonymous proxies your original IP address will not be revealed to the website you are trying to access. This way your real location will be hidden from the target, giving you more privacy while browsing or collecting data.

  • Are anonymous proxies bad or good?

    It is rather dangerous to use free public anonymous proxies. Such IPs can be set up to collect your personal information for further malicious use. So, unless you want someone to hijack your personal accounts, avoid using free public proxies.

  • What is the difference between anonymous proxy and anonymous VPN?

    The main difference between an anonymous proxy and an anonymous VPN lies in the fact that with VPN you have encryption involved of all traffic going through such a service, where the proxy functions more as an IP hiding mechanism.

  • What is an anonymous proxy tool?

    It is an anonymous proxy or anonymizer that makes your presence untraceable by the websites that you target during your online missions.

  • When do I need to use a proxy server?

    Proxies can be used in a variety of use cases. For example, you can get access to an online game or movie streaming service if the access is restricted in your area. Companies can use proxies for ad verification, lead generation or data collection on search engines, social media and/or e-commerce platforms to name a few.

  • Is a VPN an anonymous proxy or not?

    Well, there is a major difference between a VPN and an anonymous proxy. VPN encrypts your traffic, while rerouting it through a different IP. With a proxy you just hide your online presence under a new IP.

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