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  • 10. Feb. 2024, 15:46
  • 7 Minuten

A SOCKS5 proxy server can route your traffic, increasing anonymity and speed. However, it does not provide security as it operates without data encryption. In this article, we will explain what a proxy server is, discuss its advantages, and explore its use cases.

What is SOCKS5 proxy?

Socks proxy is a proxy that transfers data using the Socket Secure protocol. It helps establish secure communication at an unseen level for the user. These proxies direct traffic through the firewall and facilitate communication with the server. However, proxies do not make any changes to the data; the traffic is redirected in its original form. As a result, websites do not see the client's real IP address or that they are using a proxy.

With Socks proxy:

  • They are perfect for all types of protocols and data, not just browsers, but for all programs that do not directly use a proxy (ports 1080 and 1081).
  • They do not encrypt traffic, so be careful when transmitting sensitive data. However, we will explain how to address this later.
  • They offer different types of authentication.
  • They are good for bypassing restrictions, providing stable and fast connections, which is useful for streaming media, P2P, and online gaming.

And be careful if you are using free Socks servers. They have a higher risk of data leakage and excessive advertising. We have already compared them to paid servers in our article "Paid vs. Free Proxies".


Types of authentication

Authentication is the way to connect to a proxy. When authenticating, your data is slightly better protected, and the chances of being banned when parsing are lower. In other words, SOCKS5 proxy servers provide safer connections than HTTP protocol. You can connect to SOCKS5 using a one-time password, SMS code, authentication code, and more.

SOCKS5 offers three types of authentication:

  • Null - no authentication is required to connect to the proxy server.
  • Username and password authentication - you need to enter login credentials to access the system and connect to the proxy server. Logins and passwords help limit the number of proxy users.
  • GSS-API authentication - both you and the server use operating system-level authentication methods to verify identity.

What is Socks5?

There are two generations of Socks proxies:

  • Socks4. It does not support IPv6, authentication, and remote DNS queries. It only supports TCP connections.
  • Socks5. It supports both IPv4 and IPv6, multiple authentication methods (e.g., login and password authentication), supports remote DNS queries, TCP and UDP connections, and SSH tunneling methodology for traffic relay.

SOCKS5 is referred to as SOCKS most of the time because this version of the proxy is more popular. That's why the number "5" is usually dropped. Both terms can be used interchangeably.

SOCKS proxies can be used for the same purposes as HTTP proxies. For example, to increase loading speed on websites by caching, bypass restrictions, and maintain privacy while working on the network.

Unlike HTTP, SOCKS5 is suitable for working outside the browser. The protocol works at the session level, which is the 5th layer in the OSI model. This means that the protocol allows the transmission of any data without encapsulation.

The OSI model is a model for protocol operation, coordination among devices, and data transmission stages from the program to the cable.

It looks like this:

OSI Host Layers

Layer
Data Type
Functions
Examples
7. Application
Data
Access to network services
HTTP, FTP, POP3, SMTP, WebSocket
6. Presentation
Data
Data representation and encryption
ASCII, EBCDIC, JPEG, MIDI
5. Session
Data
Session control
SOCKS5, RPC, PAP, L2TP, gRPC
4. Transport
Segments and datagrams
End-to-end connection and reliability
TCP, UDP, SCTP, Ports
3. Network
Packets
Route determination and logical addressing
IPv4, IPv6, IPsec, AppleTalk, ICMP
2. Data Link
Bits and frames
Physical addressing
PPP, IEEE 802.22, Ethernet, DSL, ARP, network card
1. Physical
Bits
Transmission medium operations, signals, and binary data
USB, RJ (twisted pair, coaxial, fiber-optic), radio channel

However, data encryption in SOCKS5 is not mandatory. Therefore, any participant in data transmission can see your data. However, it has a plus - the data transfer speed is the highest among all proxy protocols and even faster than VPN.

Can security be enhanced?

Dedicated (not shared) SOCKS5 proxy servers can be configured for increased protection, similar to a VPN server. For example, through a private server with an encrypted SSH tunnel (Secure Shell Protocol). Traffic will then pass through the remote server. Do not confuse this with SSL encryption. In essence, you can create a local proxy using the PuTTy utility.

Thanks to SSH, all traffic, including SOCKS5 traffic, can be directed from the client through a private encrypted SSH tunnel to a remote SSH server. This can help hide traffic and bypass more sophisticated (L7-DPI) firewalls. However, advanced configuration skills are required for this.

The connection will look schematically like this:


TCP and UDP

Different types of SOCKS previously only worked with the TCP protocol, while SOCKS5 proxies handle UDP traffic as well. Therefore, we recommend using SOCKS5 as it is more versatile.

  • TCP is a protocol for ensuring message delivery between the client and server. It is necessary for connection reliability. TCP is best suited for precise data delivery, such as media content and messaging.
  • UDP, on the other hand, does not guarantee delivery, and it is a packet protocol that helps transmit traffic more quickly without spending time on retransmissions. UDP is best suited for working with P2P traffic, voice transmission, and streaming video.

These protocols complement each other excellently.

If the client exchanges TCP data, SOCKS forwards the data through the established connection. If the client exchanges UDP data, TCP connection may need to be used to establish initial contact since UDP can only send data. After that, TCP is only needed for successful SOCKS5 proxy server responses and instructions for sending UDP packets. More details about the differences between protocols can be found in an article on Spiceworks.

Benefits of SOCKS5 Proxies

With SOCKS5 proxies, you can configure them at any level. SOCKS5 proxies can be applied at the application level, allowing you to choose which programs will route traffic through the proxy. This is useful if you only need to enable the proxy server for a single application. SOCKS proxies are commonly used in web browsers or file-sharing P2P clients like BitTorrent.

For regular downloading, uploading, and content transfer, SOCKS proxies are the best option because they:

  • Bypass restrictions: SOCKS5 is one of the best ways to bypass website blocking. This is useful if your IP address is blacklisted or blocked.
  • Offer speed and connection stability: Previous versions of SOCKS only used TCP for reliable data transmission. SOCKS5 also works with UDP protocol, which improves speed.
  • Provide performance: Unlike other types of proxies, SOCKS does not interfere with data packets, resulting in fewer errors during transmission.
  • Enable fast downloads: Data packets are smaller, which accelerates downloads, especially when using P2P platforms.

Use Cases for SOCKS5 Proxies

SOCKS5 proxies are suitable for typical tasks that other proxy options can handle. However, they show greater efficiency in the following scenarios:

  • Scraping and SEO: SOCKS5 proxies are effective for high-traffic tasks like scraping. For example, a dynamic IPv6 proxy server can help you stay anonymous and provide efficient and fast results for scraping while protecting against anti-scraping measures. While you can gather data using HTTP proxies, SOCKS5 allows you to parse data from any TCP or UDP connection, including video streams and VoIP calls.
  • Anonymous connections: SOCKS5 proxies can be used to mask your real IP address.
  • Online gaming, video and voice chats.
  • P2P and torrents: High-speed protocol and IP address masking are needed in these cases.
  • Access to MySQL databases and LDAP service.

The main drawback of SOCKS5 proxies is the lack of data encryption, which can lead to:

  • Compromise: It is not recommended to work with confidential data when using SOCKS5 proxies. Hackers can quickly steal personal information while it is being transmitted through a third-party server.
  • Intrusive ads and viruses: Proxy servers often earn money by sending advertisements to connected users. These ads and pop-ups can be annoying and may pose a threat in the form of malware that sends data to hackers.
  • Insecurity in the network: When connecting to a SOCKS proxy server, you are sharing your personal data, such as hostname, with unknown individuals. Your identity can be used for malicious purposes or sold on the dark web.
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