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Overview of Web Proxies

Support: Basics: Web Proxies

If you've never used a web proxy and have no idea why you need one, this section is for you. In order to understand the importance of proxies in protecting your family's privacy and security, it is helpful to start by pointing out how much information you're revealing or risking if you do not use a proxy when you surf the web or visit web sites.

So let's start this discussion with a little check or test. Click on this link to use our proxy checker . You will see a page of data indicating what information is available to any web site you visit. For now, just scroll down the results page and look at the entry for REMOTE_ADDR. If you are not accessing that site from behind a proxy, what you are seeing is your own Internet Protocol (IP) address.

As we discussed in the overview of email protocols that Cotse.Net supports, your IP is the Internet equivalent of your postal street address. By using any number of freely available tools on the Internet, people may be able to track your IP to see what area you're in. And if your IP remains unchanging for a while, then they know exactly where *your* computer is on the Internet and can try to access it remotely.

Using a proxy helps you hide your true IP from web sites you visit. Instead of the web site seeing/logging your IP, all it gets is the IP of the proxy you are using (in our case, one of our IPs). Please note that if the web site has java/javascript or some other code to run local in your browser, that could effectively remove the shield the proxy provides.

Web proxies may also protect you by stripping out ads, blocking popups, and blocking javascript. Cotse.Net's proxies block malicious javascript, ads, and other annoyances. They are also offered unfiltered if you'd prefer to run your own local filtering.

To find out what a particular proxy actually can do for you, you need to read its descriptions and limits.

To illustrate the privacy value of a proxy, consider the following scenario that represents the unproxied connection. Let's assume that in this example, you have connected to a web site (web site A), after which you visit a second web site (Web Site B). Although it may seem as if you are making direct connections, remember that you are actually connecting to these sites (which themselves sit on remote web servers) via your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

In the unproxied state scenario above:

  • Your ISP can see that you connected to Web Site A and that you then went on to Web Site B.
  • Web Site A can see your IP, what OS (operating system) you are using, what site you were on before you came there, what pages you visited on their site, and where you went after you left their site.
  • Web Site B can see your IP, what OS you are using, that you came from Web Site A, what pages you visited on Site B, and where you went when you left there.

If you use a plain http web proxy, however, the situation changes. With a plain http proxy:

  • Your ISP can see that you connected to the proxy and that you then went to Web Site A and Web Site B
  • Web Site A can no longer see your IP. They see the proxy's IP, which protects much of your privacy.
  • Web Site B can also no longer see your IP and sees only the proxy's IP.

As you can see, the proxy has added some protection for you, but you can see that your ISP still has the ability to monitor or track your activities on the Web. To prevent them from seeing where you're going, you need to add in another layer of security or to somehow encrypt your communication so that it cannot be intercepted. One way to accomplish this is by adding Stunnel to your setup. Stunnel essentially provides you with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) functionality for your non-SSL connections such as http.

By adding Stunnel to your browser configuration, your ISP can tell that there's activity/traffic from your IP, but they can't see where you're going.

CAUTION: Java runs on YOUR local machine. Java can break your anonymity. With the Cotse.Net proxy, java trying to connect back to you will cause another authentication (proxy login) prompt. Deny it if anonymity is important to you (click cancel until it stops prompting).

If anonymity is very important, disable java in your browser. There is no way to guarantee anonymity if you let applications run on your local machine from the web. You run them at your own risk.

At Cotse.Net, we provide two different methods of using our anonymous proxies. One is via a web interface. Log into our site, type a url into the proxy, click go, and surf away. The proxy strips your personal information and shields you from the sites you visit. They cannot tell who you are, so you are protected from them. In addition the web interface can be accessed via high encryption. This protects you from your ISP or anyone along the way snooping on what you surf. We also offer a cookie manager and the ability to encode urls to protect them in your browser history.

The next method of anonymous proxy we offer is one that you can configure in your browser and go. You don't have to use our web site to surf, anywhere you surf is automatically protected by us. Our proxy removes advertisements, popups and pop unders, kick throughs (ads that automatically redirect you if you move your mouse over them), web based viruses, and malicious javascript. It also hides your Internet address and hides the software you use. All effortlessly because it was configured once in your browser. As with all services this is available via high encryption to protect you from others snooping.


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