If you are an internet user or have an email account, you may have been exposed to residential proxies at some stage. In this article, we explain what residential proxy is, how difficult it can be to detect it, and the different ways you can detect one.
What is a Residential Proxy?
A residential proxy is a remote server through which you can access your internet. By selecting a remote proxy provider, like this one, you could make your source of outgoing internet traffic appear to have come from a completely different place, or even a different country.
How a Residential Proxy Works
Once you have logged in to the proxy provider server, your outgoing traffic is sent to that server, and then on to your internet destination. The IP address seen by the recipient will be that of the proxy server, and not your actual IP address.
Your identity is therefore hidden from the recipient. The residential proxy server acts as an intermediary between you and your internet destination. Residential proxies are sold to the user, and this practice seems to apply to e-mail addresses and telephone numbers in some cases. Some users may even purchase a block of several proxy addresses.
When are Residential Proxies Used?
There are many reasons why proxies are used, below are the most common.
Accessing a Restricted Website
If the site you are trying to enter keeps denying access due to your country of origin, the use of a proxy server that is registered in another country will probably solve the problem. The destination site will see the proxy’s country of origin, and if not restricted, will allow it access.
Verify your adverts using a residential proxy. Check and verify your ad’s location and customer tracking.
Creating Additional Accounts
Generally, when you create an account online, you will be required to submit an e-mail address. In addition to this, the account host will probably register your IP address too. If you want to open a second account, it may be rejected if only one account is permitted per user. By using a residential proxy, the original information from your first account is ignored by the host, as it sees the proxy as a new account application.
This is the process of gathering information from other websites. Email gathering, opposition customer bases, opposition pricing, and competitors’ products can all be found using a residential proxy for web scraping.
How to Detect a Residential Proxy
There are several online tools to help you check the authenticity of a website or email address, and its IP address.
IP lookup is one such online tool, however, you may need to understand a little about IP addresses to achieve the desired results. From this search, you will gain confirmation on the actual IP address, organization name, and the name of the host. The tool may also warn you if it detects a proxy server.
The first thing you will be looking for is the location of the IP address. If your incoming traffic is from a known company in an industrial area, for example, the IP address will reflect that. If the location picked by the online checker seems more like a residential suburb, the chances are that it has come through a residential proxy, and the authenticity of the incoming communication should be questioned. Similarly, if the IP location is from a foreign country, but the organization communicating with you is local, it’s definitely a proxy server.
Internet Service Provider
Most large companies will have their own internet service provider (ISP). Their URL and e-mail addresses will end with a suffix bearing or resembling that organization’s name. If the IP address you find is any different, this has probably come through a proxy server.
Inspecting the User-Agent
The IP address user agent contains details such as the sender’s operating system, the browser being used, and what versions of those are being used. User-Agent String is one online tool that can be used for this, free. Look for obvious signs. A 5-year-old browser is less likely to still be in use by a reputable corporation for example.
Now that we have explained what a residential proxy is, and how it works, you will have a better understanding of what metrics make up the identity of an IP address. Although very difficult to detect when not using footprinting and other measures, you can now determine whether incoming electronic communications are from a proxy server or not.
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