I’m sure you’ve heard of VPNs and proxies before. They’re ways to make your computer look like it’s in a different location to whatever website or service you’re using (usually because you don’t want that site or service to know where you really are). At first, glance, using a VPN or proxy might seem like the best way to protect your identity and remain anonymous on the internet, but this isn’t true. If you’re trying to avoid being tracked and profiled online, it might be worse than not using any protection. Here are five ways you can detect whether or not you’re using a VPN or proxy
1. Use Chrome’s Extension Proxy SwitchyOmega
Probably one of, if not THE best and most straightforward tools you can use to detect an encrypted tunnel like a VPN or proxy is Chrome’s extension called SwitchyOmega. You can find it on Google’s Web Store here. Using it is very simple: install it, then navigate to your website of choice. SwitchyOmega will then display various properties about whatever web page you’re looking at – and that includes whether it uses encryption or not!
It’ll even show you how many hops are in their chain (i.e., how many servers they’ve passed through). This information alone makes it worth installing as part of your arsenal against these types of networks. But wait, there’s more! In addition to all that, SwitchyOmega also allows you to configure custom rules for blocking specific websites based on their encryption status. So if you want to block all sites with 3 hops or more (for example), add them to its built-in blacklist, and they’ll be blocked automatically when detected by Chrome.
2. Use NetCraft Tool
This is a handy tool that can check if a website is protected by a web filter. For example, many schools and offices have their computers protected with various firewalls that prevent you from accessing certain types of websites. However, if you visit that site through NetCraft, it will tell you whether or not it has been blocked in your current location. It will also reveal what type of firewall is being used by checking three categories: Packet Filter Firewall, Application Gateway Firewall, and Stateful Inspection Firewall.
If it’s a stateful inspection firewall, they use something like Websense or Bluecoat. If they are using something like iptables on Linux, then it’s more likely they are using a packet filter firewall. Once you know which category your target is using, you can make an educated guess of how easy (or difficult) it will be for you to access that website.
3. Check DNS Settings
If you suspect someone’s trying to hide their identity through a VPN or proxy, you can usually find out by doing a reverse DNS lookup on their domain. Doing so will show you what IP address that domain points to, which might help to confirm that they are using some sort of anonymizing service. Here’s an excellent guide from PortQry on how to do that. If that doesn’t work, there are several services you can use, such as OpenDNS and Norton ConnectSafe if you have a subscription with either of those companies. You could also try querying Google’s public DNS server, 126.96.36.199, but keep in mind that any information you send over Google’s network could be logged and used for tracking purposes (they won’t tell anyone who asked).
4. Run A Speed Test From Outside Your Network
One of your best indicators on a proxy or VPN service is speed. With both services, internet traffic passes through a tunnel to another network before reaching its destination. This process inherently creates latency, which means slower connection speeds than you should expect. So, fire up a speed test and run it from an outside IP address—it will be significantly faster than if you run it on your network using a VPN or proxy.
If your ISP doesn’t offer any servers in other locations, consider connecting to one of Google’s public DNS servers. If you don’t have access to either option, try running a traceroute (in Windows) or ping (in Mac OS X) command from outside your network; these commands tell you how many hops away a given server is located. The fewer hops between you and an online server, the better your connection speed will be when accessing that server. If it takes multiple seconds for each hop between two servers, there’s probably something fishy going on with your connection.
5. Look For Common Patterns
Another way to detect a VPN or proxy is to look for some common patterns. Pay attention to how you’re using your internet connection, what kinds of sites you’re visiting, and if anything particular stands out. If any issues with your network performance don’t make sense, it could indicate that you’re being rerouted through a different path on your way to specific websites.
For example, if suddenly you can’t access Google from your home but can from work, and Google isn’t blocked at work, then maybe someone is trying to mask their location by routing traffic through another server.
Note: This method won’t always work because there are plenty of legitimate reasons why traffic may route differently depending on where you’re connecting, but it’s still worth keeping an eye out for these kinds of inconsistencies.
How Do You Check If An IP Is A Proxy?
This is trickier than checking for a VPN, but it’s still possible. To check if an IP address is that of a proxy, you’ll need to do two things: first, find out how to identify proxies; second, look at whether that IP address has any characteristics similar to known proxies. If you can pinpoint a proxy or VPN provider with enough precision to identify an individual IP address as belonging to them (say their range of reserved IP addresses), then you have identified a VPN or proxy.
Many free tools on the internet will let you know if an IP address is a proxy, but they all seem to have issues that make them slightly unreliable. Your best bet is to stick with what’s tried and true: Google. Just search for xyz IP address as a proxy, replacing xyz with any IP you want to check. Voilà—you’ve got your answer right at your fingertips. If it’s not a proxy, it’s probably just an ordinary IP address. If it is a proxy, though… well, now you know!
The same principle applies when checking whether or not an IP belongs to a VPN provider (or VPN server, as some people call it). You can quickly identify most VPN providers by their ranges of reserved IP addresses; just use Google again to see if there are any hits. If there aren’t any results for your query (e.g., is 192.168.*.* a VPN server?), then you’re probably looking at a regular IP address instead of one belonging to a VPN provider/proxy server.
How Do I Find My Original Proxy IP?
Sometimes, a proxy server will be necessary to access certain features or sites. In these cases, you’ll have a proxy IP. But if you ever need to turn off your proxy and go back to your original IP address, it can be tricky figuring out where that information is stored and how to obtain it. Here are some of my favorite resources for doing so
One way to do so is by looking at an X-Forwarded-For header in your browser.
This type of header shows any additional IP addresses used when connecting to a site. It should look something like: 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206. If there are more than two numbers listed here, then there was likely a proxy involved somewhere along the line—and you should be able to figure out which one from here on out!
Another method is by going into your control panel and finding your Internet service provider’s DNS settings page (usually located under advanced settings).
Check whether or not any other DNS servers were used when connecting to websites—if they were, then there was likely a proxy involved somewhere along the line! If you don’t see anything in either of these places, try searching for a proxy server log viewer. This should bring up some options for viewing your own IP address history.
You can always search for an IP address tracker online if all else fails.
While these are more time-consuming than most methods, they are also highly accurate. Simply Google IP Address Tracker and find one that works best for your needs!
The goal of a proxy server is to hide your original IP address so that you may access content that would otherwise be blocked. In some cases, however, a proxy server will only hide your IP while sending information back to its source—this means that it’s possible to see which websites have been visited using a specific proxy server! And in some cases, even to see what kind of traffic was sent through it. Knowing how to detect proxies is helpful in many situations—if someone ever offers you a free proxy service or asks you to connect through one of their servers, it’s usually best not to do so unless absolutely necessary!
Both proxies and VPNs can protect your identity online, but they are different methods. A proxy allows you to hide your browsing habits from your ISP and bypass geographic restrictions. At the same time, a virtual private network is an encrypted tunnel that provides anonymity by hiding your IP address. I hope you’ve learned more about these tools and how they can keep you safe online. Please share this information with friends and family, so they know how to avoid a world of trouble when using public Wi-Fi networks at cafes, hotels, airports, etc. If you want additional protection for personal use or learn more about protecting a corporate network against unauthorized access or intrusions, give our security specialists a call for help!
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