What Are SOCKS Proxies?

You must be aware of the term ‘proxy’ as a server or hub that processes various internet requests. When you browse the web, you would usually use the HTTP proxy which processes the request on your behalf and lets you use a particular website. However, there’s another type of proxy called SOCKS or secure socket proxies.

To understand SOCKS proxies, you must have good knowledge about HTTP proxies too. In this post, we’ll mainly focus on SOCKS proxies and their function, but we’ll start with HTTP proxies.

HTTP Proxies

HTTP or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol is the standard online protocol that is used to send and display images, text, sound, and graphics on the internet. HTTP proxy runs on a client-server model and is overall a high-performance filter that protects the web server from malicious activities and attacks. It provides security and management and allows only the content that matches the specifications of RFC of the client and the web server. The following main points can better explain HTTP proxy:

  • It allows a site to make requests to the external server.
  • It maintains security by keeping the identity anonymous.
  • It manages access policies on various websites.
  • It accelerates caching rates.
  • It performs the process of internet filtering so that prohibited content is not accessed.
  • It blocks the downloading of various files from the client side.

In short, the HTTP proxy allows you to surf the web and is used by various websites to communicate with servers to allow you to view websites. You can also use a SOCKS proxy for this purpose. Now that you’ve understood what an HTTP proxy is, let’s focus on our main topic.

SOCKS Proxies

SOCKS proxy is different from the HTTP proxy because it is basically for applications. SOCKS proxies are, thus, called application proxies as well and can work on any port or network protocol, unlike HTTP proxies. Using a SOCKS proxy would be like if you set up an IP tunnel along with a firewall and then all the protocol requests would start from the firewall. A proxy connection is established after sending and receiving messages defined by the SOCKS protocol. The SOCKS protocol can then be used by the client to communicate with the SOCKS server.

The function of SOCKS proxies is to support various network technologies such as UDP and IPv6. These proxies receive and transfer data and also mask the IP address of the user for security purposes. Thus, a SOCKS proxy can be used to hide your IP or location so that you can get rid of geographical restrictions or firewalls. The external server actually deals with the SOCKS server like it is a real client and all the communication is handled that way.

How Do SOCKS Proxies Work?

To use SOCKS proxies, you must have a SOCKS client on your system in the TCP/IP stack or an application. This way, the client software will be able to transfer the packets into a SOCKS tunnel and initiate the logging and authentication of various requests for connection. After the connection request has been received, the SOCKS server then works as the IP client and the external server only knows the SOCKS server. This means that the external server will believe that the SOCKS server is the client and will treat it as such.

While HTTP proxies are very popular on the web as they are used for web browsing, SOCKS proxies are different because they are more flexible. They are sometimes considered lower-level proxies, but they have their own benefits as the user is not bound to a specific port or network protocol.

Security is an important factor to consider while you’re using a proxy, but some people misunderstand the security level of SOCKS proxies. They believe HTTP proxies to be more secure, but that is not the case if you want to remain anonymous. SOCKS proxies differ in how they view data from HTTP proxies, and this is where their benefits come in.

Though the connection established by HTTP proxy is secure, the user can’t hide their identity as these proxies are smart and are able to read the data. They know what is being transferred and can keep a record of it. However, SOCKS proxies are not able to read or understand the data, which is why they are more secure as the user is not revealed. SOCKS proxies use the tunneling method, which is untraceable and doesn’t allow the proxies to know what type of data is being passed through the server to the client and vice versa.

Versions of SOCKS Proxies

There are two different types of SOCKS proxies: SOCKS V4 and SOCKS V5. The SOCKS V5 version supports a number of methods for authentication and UDP proxy, while the SOCKS V4 doesn’t support any authentication method or UDP proxy. While using SOCKS V5 proxies, the user can transfer unresolvable host names to the server and the server can resolve the names, while the SOCKS V4 proxy clients have to resolve the external host names themselves.

If you need added security, the SOCKS V5 proxy is the better option. This is because of its ability to support various authentication options, as stated earlier. The proxy cannot be accessed by just about anyone with the details, which means lower chances of an attack.

Speed of SOCKS Proxies

If you need a fast connection, it is important to know about the speeds of the different proxies. Speed is very important if you want to watch videos and movies, browse the web, and do lots of other things smoothly.

Before learning about the speeds of both types of proxies, you must know that speed drops when using a proxy as you move from one website to another. However, if you’re experiencing an incredibly slow service, you should check other factors because there is no such thing as too much lag.

SOCKS proxies are a little faster than other dedicated proxies, particularly if you want to do lots of transfers or downloading. If you are using SOCKS proxies from a quality service provider, you’ll face only a slight drop in speed. This is because good proxy companies provide enough bandwidth for browsing the web. Such companies use the latest technology to make sure the proxies are fast and up to the expectations of their customers.

With VPNs, the situation is a little different because there are lots of people using the same hub, which can cause lag. With such services, you might notice that the speed is better at early morning or late night as there are fewer people using it at the time. Thus, VPNs would give you great speeds as long as you don’t need to access it in the peak hours. However, if you want a consistently fast speed at all times, you must choose SOCKS proxy.

SOCKS proxies offer faster download speeds and are much faster that the dedicated or standard proxies. HTTP proxies are also not as fast as SOCKS proxies.

Security of SOCKS Proxies

VPNs and SOCKS proxies allow you to use the internet anonymously, unlike HTTP proxies, as stated before. The former have the ability to hide your IP address and act as the middleman to allow you to access the internet without any geographical restrictions. This way, your location or IP address can’t be traced as it is shown to be different to the servers from your real address.

Thus, when it comes to security, SOCKS proxies are usually the way to go. This is because these proxies connect through the tunneling process, which has been talked about above. HTTP proxies, on the other hand, connect through an open port which is not as secure. Thus, HTTP proxies can be penetrated and your data can be traced back to you. This is why most people use SOCKS proxies as they get a good level of security and don’t have to access an entire network either.

There have been some issues of logging data even with SOCKS proxies, but if you have a premium SOCKS proxy provider, this issue will be solved. A good SOCKS proxy service provider will make sure that your connection is safe and secure.

Conclusion

While there are some SOCKS proxies available for free, we don’t advise our readers to use them as they aren’t too secure. Free services are always less secure and slower than the paid ones and can be dangerous if you want added privacy.

When it comes to paid services, proxies can turn out to be more expensive than VPNs, but they also offer better quality and service and provide excellent value for money. These proxies are best for those who want to use social media tools or scrape the web. They can also be used for downloading torrents in large quantities without compromising on your safety.

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