If you believe you can surf the Internet anonymously, think again. Recent months has seen a huge increases in online bullying and fighting and when I see bloggers who engage in abuse because they might think they can hide behind their computer I wonder whether they are smart enough to surf hidden from prying eyes.

In case you don’t know this, your IP address is like your digital fingerprint. Your activities can be traced back to you. While not every computer these days has a unique IP address anymore, many still do and those can be traced.

If you surf the web on a company network, most likely your IP address isn’t unique, meaning you are connected to all the other machines in that network. Those cane be traced too by the administrator.

IP stands for Internet Protocol (IP) address. They consist of four numbers, separated by periods (also called a dotted-quad) and look like 27.150.09.14. There are static and dynamic IP addresses.

Here is the thing though. If you want to surf the Internet anonymously you can. To make it even better it is perfectly legal too. The best way to find a proxy server is to search on Google for it.

What is a proxy server?

Proxy servers come in several choices.:

  • Website based
  • Browser configured
  • Installed software

Either of these proxies will provide you with options to surf the web anonymously. However, not every one of these will actually hide your IP address from prying eyes.

Overview of proxy services

Website based proxy: A website based proxy allows you to surf the web by inserting a websites URL. It will allow you to visit this site anonymously. Your IP address will not be passed along. Some of these proxies cost money though.

Browser configured proxy: Stand alone proxy servers allow you to configure your browser to route your browser traffic through that machine. This will make a request for a page on your behalf and then sends you the results.

Normally these proxies are free. One major drawback is their slow speed since they are often very popular. There are several version of these proxies:

  • Distorting: Hides your IP address
  • Anonymous: Hides your IP address
  • Transparent: Doesn’t hide your IP address
  • High anonymity: Hides your IP address

Installed software proxies: These type of proxies offer fast and secure web surfing to users. They are based on either membership or one time fee costs. Here are some to get you started:

Anonymizer
GhostSurf
Hide My IP
TOR (free)

Proxy server risks

By using proxy servers you are exposed to certain types of risks and you need to be aware of them before you start using them. What happens when you use proxies is that your data is sent through that particular service. This means that potential malicious proxy servers could actually steal your private information, like passwords, logins and other private data.

If the proxy server is well known and established you have nothing to fear. To make sure you won’t be the next victim of cyber theft, go with a respected site like Proxify.com

If for any reason you need to use an unsecured proxy service never use them for any private information, including logins.

Use at own risk

Most Internet users will never feel the need to use proxy servers. However, if you do then be sure to only deal with respectable services to avoid trouble. Also, I’m sure you are aware to use them at your own risk.