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SOCKS5 Proxy: How does it improve your data security?

Using a SOCKS5 proxy to route your traffic can improve your privacy, but it doesn’t ensure security. That’s because, contrary to a VPN, a SOCKS5 proxy doesn’t use encryption to safeguard your data. In this blog, we will talk about what a SOCKS5 proxy is, the benefits it brings to the table, and how you can set one up.

What is a SOCKS5 Proxy?

You need to understand what a proxy server is before fully grasping what a SOCKS5 proxy does. A proxy server stands between a user’s device and a server the device wants to communicate with. Proxies act as a gateway or middleman between local networks and servers on the internet. SOCKS, which means Socket Secure, is a layer 5 (Session Layer of the OSI model) network protocol that deals with the communication between a server and a client.

Since it is a layer five protocol, it doesn’t have anything to do with the layers below it in the OSI model. In addition, it can handle several types of traffic, including HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, FTP, and POP3. As a result, you can use it for web browsing, email, file transfers, and peer-to-peer sharing. There are two versions of SOCKS proxies: SOCKS4 and SOCKS5.

SOCKS5 is the most recent and secure version of the protocol. It is more secure than SOCKS4 because it offers more authentication methods. In addition, it supports both TCP and UDP proxies.

socks5 proxy

What does the SOCKS5 proxy do?

SOCKS5 does change your IP address, but how? Let’s look at this simple example to understand this process better.

Let’s say you want to visit a particular website without being tracked. Then, before reaching its final destination, the request from your IP goes through a SOCKS5 proxy server with another IP. When your data travels to the requested server, it will see the IP of the proxy server instead of your real address.

Besides, SOCKS5 ensures that only authorized clients can connect to the server thanks to three different authentication methods:

  • Null authentication is applied when you’re connecting to a proxy server.
  • Username/password authentication requires your credentials to connect to a proxy.
  • GSS-API authentication verifies your digital identity at the operating system level.

Some benefits 

  • Bypass Geo restriction – Sometimes content providers restrict some of their content and services based on the geographical location of the user. For example, there are various shows you can find on different streaming platforms that might be available in the USA but not in India. It allows websites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to restrict their content based on geolocation. So to overcome that, the SOCKS5 proxy can be used, The proxy will change the IP address with the IP address of the country where that content is available.
  • Evade Internet Blocks – Websites keep logs of users who visit their sites and sometimes they even blacklist (Block a user’s IP) any user who they think is a potential risk to their security. Such as sending many requests within a short period can get a user blacklisted. SOCKS5 proxy can help the user to evade these internet blocks. So, even if the IP address was blacklisted by the website, the user can simply bypass the block by routing the internet traffic through a SOCKS5 proxy which will change the user’s IP address.
  • Faster and Reliable Connection – In older versions of SOCKS proxies, TCP protocol was used, which requires a secure connection between client and server making sure all data packets reach the destination without any loss and in the same order on the other side or destination. SOCKS5 uses a UDP protocol that broadcasts packets and doesn’t focus on packets reaching in the same order. As a result, in SOCKS5 the connection is more reliable and the transfer is faster.
  • No Traffic, Program, or Protocol Constraints – Unlike HTTP proxies that can only work with HTTP and HTTPS, there are no such limitations or constraints with SOCKS5 proxies. Since SOCKS5 is a layer 5 Protocol it is not that specific and high level as compared to HTTP proxy which is a layer 7 protocol. Thus, the SOCKS5 proxy can handle various programs or protocols such as FTP, HTTPS, SMTP, etc.
  • SOCKS5 is Faster than VPN – SOCKS proxies are often mistaken for VPNs. Though there are many similarities between a VPN and SOCKS proxies, one thing that sets them apart is encryption. SOCKS5 proxy changes the user’s IP address but it doesn’t encrypt the data as a VPN does. Encryption slows down the speed because of this the SOCKS5 proxy is faster than VPNs.

Drawbacks of SOCKS5 Proxy

The main problem of SOCKS5 proxies is the lack of data encryption during transmission. This issue causes the following security challenges.

  • Potential hacking threats. It’s not recommended to perform any activities related to sensitive data, such as typing your bank account credentials, using a proxy solution like SOCKS5. When moving through a third-party server, it can be compromised by hackers in the blink of an eye. Moreover, if you happen to connect to a malicious proxy, it may hijack your private information from your device.
  • Intrusive ads and viruses. Proxy servers often generate revenue by sending advertisements to connected users. Apart from being annoying, these intrusive ads and pop-ups may pose an actual risk to your cybersecurity. Many links are infected with viruses. Once you click on such a link, you will install malware on your device. Such malicious programs aim at collecting users’ data and sending it directly to hackers.
  • Unprotected online identity. When connecting to a proxy server, you share your personal data, like your hostname, with strangers. And there is no guarantee that you can trust them. Identity theft is very common these days, as your ID can be used with malicious intentions or sold on the dark web.

socks5 proxy

SOCKS5 Proxy vs VPNs

Some people might confuse a SOCKS5 proxy and a VPN to be the same since they both mask your IP address from bad actors. However, a VPN is a more advanced tool than a proxy for anonymity and security. For starters, a VPN server fully encrypts every data packet that passes through it. On the other hand, SOCKS5 proxies don’t encrypt traffic; they only mask your IP address.

Aside from encryption, VPNs are feature-rich; they offer more security and privacy features than proxies. In addition, they provide advanced security features and give users the flexibility needed to control their security.

However, because encryption is resource-intensive, SOCKS5 proxies are generally faster than VPN servers. Therefore, you will get better download and upload speeds using a proxy server than a VPN server. Plus, SOCKS5 proxies work well with P2P activities. While some VPNs have P2P-optimized servers, they are not as quick as SOCKS5 proxies.

In conclusion, deciding whether to use a VPN or a SOCKS5 proxy depends on your needs. A VPN is a smart choice if you need security and privacy, while you should use a SOCKS5 proxy if you want to focus on torrenting.

Conclusion

Now you know what a SOCKS proxy is – a straightforward, all-purpose proxy solution that uses a tunneling technique. It’s easily set up across applications and can handle a variety of traffic produced by different protocols. It also boosts performance, privacy, and security and can be a great alternative to VPN services.

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