The era of the Internet has spawned new types of crime which law enforcement agencies are having trouble addressing. For example in online banking, clients are more and more exposed to anomalous practices. You no longer need to be worried about being held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, because it can happen right in your home while logged in to your bank account on the Web. And the worst thing about it is that you might not even know that it's happening.
Proxies or proxy servers can help in this scenario. These types of servers are a means of hiding your computer when you are surfing on the Web. Proxies act as intermediaries between you, the client, and the various Web servers you access on the Internet, by assigning a masked IP address.
An IP address, in lay man's terms, is like one's physical address. For a snail mail to reach you, a correct physical address has to be indicated on the mail so that the postman will know who and where to deliver it to. The same is true for IP address. For any data messages to reach you, the sender's computer has to know the correct IP address of your computer for the messages to get to you. However, hackers have a way of accessing these IP addresses and use them to commit crimes.
There are two ways to surf the Web anonymously with proxies. One is by availing of public proxies while the other one is getting the paid service.
If you want to set up a proxy for your Microsoft Internet Explorer, the first thing you need to do is to search for a list of proxies labeled anonymous on Google. On the Internet Explorer toolbar, click on Tools then Internet Options. Afterwards, click on the Connections tab then LAN Settings. Find Proxy Servers and afterwards tick the box that says Use a proxy server for your LAN. Copy and paste the IP address you got from the proxy list in the Address box. After that, copy and paste the port number from the same proxy list into the Port box and then click on OK.
If you want to set up a proxy for your Mozilla Firefox web browser, again, look for a proxy list that's labeled anonymous. On Firefox, click on Tools then Options. Open the Connection Settings button under the General tab and click on the Manual Proxy Configuration. Again, copy the proxy's IP address and Port number in the respective boxes and click on OK.
Proxy servers can help boost security by keeping your PC's IP address from being seen on the network. But like most network security tools, it can be a two-edged sword. Hackers can directly target proxy servers with enough skill and cunning such that clients are unaware the proxy server has been compromised until it's too late. Anonymity is a good security measure but this should be coupled with the more direct protection of antivirus and anti-spyware applications.