The internet can be likened to a coin – it has a good side and a bad side.
While most of us mostly know it for entertainment, communication, and a source of information, i.e., the good, it is also full of negatives, from cyberattacks and geo-restrictions to surveillance from government agencies or anyone with your IP address and the technology required to track you.
The negatives point to a need for security, and that’s where the Socket Secure (SOCKS) comes in. SOCKS is an internet protocol just like HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), while SOCKS5 is an improved and more optimized version of the original SOCKS. However, unlike HTTP, which enables data exchange over the internet, SOCKS protocol facilitates the transfer of web traffic in the form of network packets between a web user and web server through a third-party/external proxy server. Routing traffic through a proxy creates a SOCKS or SOCKS5 proxy, depending on the version used.
Differences between SOCKS/SOCKS5 proxies and HTTP proxies
Notably, the fact that the proxy server is external means that SOCKS and SOCKS5 proxies differ from HTTP proxies. The latter results when you configure your computer, meaning that an HTTP proxy is really just your computer or browser acting as a gateway that filters content sent using the HTTP or HTTPS protocols.
Furthermore, while HTTP proxies only support requests made through the HTTP protocol, SOCKS5 proxies handle HTTP, HTTPS, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3). This implies that a SOCKS5 proxy is more versatile than an HTTP proxy and can be used for web browsing, emailing, and peer-to-peer connections.
On top of facilitating all this, SOCKS5 proxies promote anonymity since by routing traffic through an external server, the data packets acquire a new online identity. They also provide security due to authentication. Additionally, SOCKS5 proxies support User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), while HTTP proxies do not have UDP support and only provide limited TCP support.
SOCKS proxies and SOCKS5 proxies: what is the difference?
A SOCKS5 proxy is a computer through which web traffic being sent through the SOCKS5 protocol is routed on their way to the target web server or user’s computer. The SOCKS5 protocol sends data packets between the client’s computer and the proxy server via either the TCP or UDP.
On the other hand, a SOCKS proxy routes traffic through an external server and facilitates communication between the user’s computer and this server through the SOCKS protocol. Notably, the SOCKS protocol essentially creates a TCP between the user’s computer and a proxy server.
As mentioned, SOCKS5 is an improved version of SOCKS. It goes without saying, therefore, that SOCKS lags behind the newer version on many fronts. The differences between SOCKS proxies and SOCKS5 proxies include:
|SOCKS5 Proxy||SOCKS Proxy|
|It provides authentication, which improves security||It does not provide authentication|
|It supports applications that communicate through UDP and is, therefore, faster and more efficient when used to transfer data packets||It lacks support for UDP-based applications|
|It supports IPv6 and Domain Name Resolution (because it uses UDP)||It does not support IPv6 or Domain Name Resolution|
Pros and cons of SOCKS5 proxies
Now that you know the features of SOCKS5 proxies, it is crucial that we also look at their pros and cons.
Pros of SOCKS5 Proxies
- They enhance security due to the authentication aspect. SOCKS5 proxies use a combination of a username and password to limit its availability to only authorized persons. This added layer of security prevents attacks.
- They provide access to geo-restricted content. The external proxy could be located in a country thousands of miles away. By routing your traffic through this proxy, you essentially gain a new online identity. Thus, web servers only see your new IP address.
- They provide a fast internet connection. Unlike VPNs which encrypt the data packets, SOCKS5 proxies only provide authentication and a secure tunnel. This lack of encryptions ensures that users enjoy fast, uninterrupted speeds.
- They provide security and faster download speeds when connected to peer-to-peer (P2P) websites. SOCKS5 protocol breaks the large files into small data packets, thus promoting fast transfer.
Cons of SOCKS5 proxies
- SOCKS5 proxies lack encryption, meaning that any traffic sent through the SOCKS5 tunnel is not protected. Ironically, this is both a pro and a con.
A SOCKS5 proxy works much like a virtual private network (VPN). However, while the latter secures the connection via encryption, the former only provides security via authentication. Thus, the tunnel that SOCKS5 proxies create is not protected. Nonetheless, they are faster and still provide access to geo-restricted content. With that being said, you can solve this problem by combining a VPN and a SOCKS5 proxy. But keep in mind that this can only be possible if the VPN provider supports the arrangement. If you would like to learn more, click here for info about SOCKS5 proxies.
All in all, SOCKS5 proxies promote security and online anonymity.