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There’s a common misconception that when you sit at your computer, browsing the internet then it’s pretty much all done in private. Not in a super secure, top secret way just the expectation that it’s all pretty discrete and you’re activities are pretty much anonymous. Unfortunately although this used to be true to some extent, it certainly isn’t nowadays – there is virtually no privacy at all online unless you actively take precautions.
What is important to realise is that everyone now has some sort of digital identity and profile. This includes all sorts of information about your age, sex, location, hobbies, political preferences and a host of other metrics. Information which is valuable to all sorts of people for a variety of reasons. When we connect to any major website, we don’t do it anonymously but are tracked, monitored and analysed via our IP addresses, cookies and browsing histories.
So What Exactly are Proxies on the Internet?
A proxy server is simply a computer configured on the internet to act as a middleman for communication. It sits in between the resource you are trying to access, receiving and forwarding your requests in both directions. This enables you to access that resource without any direct connection.
As you can see you only have a direct connection with the proxy server which means that no personal or technical information is accessible to the web site. This is of course dependent on the proxy not forwarding this information automatically. The traditional role of internet proxies are to simply act as a gateway and not modify the traffic in any way.
Using Proxies for Anonymity ?
This is an obvious role for a proxy server simply down to the way they work. They cut the direct link between you and the web site you’re visiting. The web server won’t even see your location which is generally determined from your device’s IP address. Only the proxy server’s IP address will be visible, so any location information will be determined from that.
Indeed this is often used as a way to bypassing geoblocks and filtering based on location. For example millions of people across the world access the UK only BBC iPlayer by simply connecting through a UK based proxy server first. The proxy effectively becomes an extension of your presence online, by switching proxies you can effectively change your digital location.
Proxies are not a complete solution for privacy online though and they certainly don’t protect all your information. The core omission is the lack of any level of encryption which means that much of your data is readable including your actual location.
- ISP Logs – all requests you make are routed through a gateway normally controlled by your ISP if you’re accessing at home. This includes the web site address, resource you’re accessing and so on which is in turn passed on to the proxy server. This information can be logged and accessed with the appropriate rights (or if someone just has access to them), these logs will contain a complete list of your online activity.
- No Protection on the Wire – until your request reaches the proxy server, then it’s all potentially accessible and readable. The ISP is the obvious vulnerability but as the internet is a network build on shared hardware, there’s many other points too. For those using wireless access there’s another potential point for interception too.
Of course, nobody’s suggesting that you’re actively under surveillance with bands of covert operatives shadowing your every move. However much of this, especially at the ISP is all recorded automatically and it’s a trivial matter to see an individuals entire internet activity very easily.
The solution for fixing these gaps is to use an encrypted connection which will protect your data while it’s being transmitted and ensure all those logs at your ISP are completely unreadable. The popular method is to use something called a VPN, which is effectively a proxy server with an encrypted connection.
What Can Proxy Servers Be Used For Making Money with ?
You might think that just having a server and a different IP address wouldn’t be of that much use to making money, however you’d be very wrong! Having access to proxy servers means that you can change your digital identity and even run multiple identities online without an issue.
If you’ve ever tried running a business or any sort of money making scheme online you’ve probably found having a single fixed digital identity is hugely restrictive. Even running things like multiple searches on Google or Bing to do some research will effectively get your IP address blocked for a period of time as the ‘behaviour looks suspicious’.
This can actually happen with manual queries, simply type too many of them in too short a time and you’ll be deemed suspicious. However working online then you’ll definitely be using some sort of automated tools for promotion, research or posting and these multiple requests will happen all the time. Google like many sites doesn’t want it’s interface used for commercial means (without it making a cut of course!).
I’ve been working online for well over a decade now and nearly all my useful tools need proxies to work properly. The problem is that a single IP address and identity is simply not enough when you’re trying to run these tools and access different markets.
So let’s take a quick run down of some my activities and see which ones need proxies to work properly. My business is primarily involved in affiliate marketing, basically generating revenue from web sites I run or manage.
- Keyword Research Tools – I use several like Keyword Elite, Authority Snooper and Question Forge to find keywords that I can rank in Google. This is an essential stage in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Identifying keywords to try and rank for is arguably the most important task in generating traffic. If I do this from a single internet connection I would get a Google search ban within minutes, then I’d have to wait until it was lifted.
- Social Network Posting – to promote my websites I have several accounts on all the major social networking platforms. Whenever I create a new page, I promote it through these accounts. To keep my accounts safe I operate them under separate identities which need different IP addresses. Without using proxies my accounts would be compromised and possibly deleted – some of them are nearly ten years old!
- Social Networking Tools – like many online entrepreneurs I also use automated tools to promote on social media efficiently. Although some I do manually, it simply takes too long to do all of this without some sort of assistance. For additional exposure I use a tools called Jarvee to automatically promote my new content on sites like Instagram. You simply cannot use the vast majority of these tools without proxies or they will decimate your accounts!
- Link Building Tools – I have used so many of these over the years that there’s too many to mention. What they generally do is to build backlinks to your web pages in order to rank them on the search engines. It works and still works today as long as you’re careful, but again is almost impossible top operate these under a single IP address. The sites you’re accessing will block you as well as the search engines when you’re trying to find them. All the best ones ask you to input proxy servers in order to run properly.
- Placing Adverts – one great way to make online sales is of course advertising, yet unfortunately many of the best value and accessible sites won’t allow multiple access. Take for example Craigslist which has localised versions all over the world. These are only accessible though to local people, which the site determines via your IP address. So a UK address won’t be able to place an advert on a New York site even though the product might be perfect for that market. However if you connect through a proxy based in New York everything works fine – see how powerful it is to have multiple identities?
That’s only a quick sample off the top of my head, there are loads of other times when I use proxies almost without thinking. In many specialised areas especially when your dealing with volume, it’s impossible to operate on virtually any level without using proxies to some extent.
Here’s a quick list of other uses, that I know people who make thousands online use proxies for –
Buying and reselling Sneakers – this is incredibly lucrative if you know what you’re doing. You wait for rare and limited release sneakers on sites like Supreme and Nike and then buy as many as possible. Then you can resell them almost instantly at a huge profit very easily indeed. However they’re limited to one per account normally so to buy any volume you need to use proxies to appear as multiple buyers. There’s more to it than this if you want to try it and you read more about Sneaker proxies on this page.
Buying and Reselling Tickets – virtually the same concept, buy something in short demand and resell it at a profit. The money to be made on some events is huge if you can buy enough tickets. Obviously this won’t make you particularly popular, they’re normally referred to as Ticket Scalpers, yet it can make you very wealthy!
Blackhat Promotion Techniques (AKA Spam) – there are lots of ways to promote your websites quickly and efficiently by using automated tools. These normally involve blasting thousands of links from different sites using automated software and Bots. The sites won’t last long as they will eventually be penalized by the search engines as the practice is detected, but they can generate huge amounts of revenue in the interim. These tools simply don’t work without proxies to provide multiple identities and addresses.
The proxy server has come a long way from sitting in a University or Company network server room simply acting as a gateway for internet access or a busy application server. It’s amazing to see how many people now use them in their daily work. Having access to proxies won’t generate you any money directly, however anyone who is will definitely be using them.
There’s loads of information on these pages about the different types of proxies you can find, ranging from rotating to mobile servers. Yet ultimately they’re all about owning and maintaining multiple digital identities and hiding your real one. Often it’s a simple matter of scaling up a method or process using these identities. After all if you discover you can make X amount of profits by placing one Craigslist advert in the US, it’s obvious to see that you can multiply those profits by placing loads more!