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Can we track the real IP behind a proxy?

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James Hunt

12-31-2021

1. Web Applications

The first major way to get a cursory idea of whether or not an IP address is a proxy (and other details about it) is through a web application.

These are typically free tools developed by companies that want you to visit their website, sign up for their semi-related service, or click on some sort of affiliate link. You don’t have to do any of those things, and you can usually still use the free tool, which is nice.

There are also paid web applications, but I won’t go into those here because you likely don’t need something that complex and powerful (not to mention expensive).

2. Location

One of the biggest ways to determine whether or not an IP address is actually a proxy is to use a check like the one above and center in on the location. Where does the check say the proxy is located? Does that place seem realistic for an individual to live and purchase internet, or not?

The answers to these questions can vary quite a bit, so it’s important to understand the framework behind the question.

Proxies are split down two main ways: datacenter and residential. I touched on these above; they play a critical role in how well a proxy function, and whether or not it is actually a proxy or not.

3. Look at the Internet Service Provider

Building on the above method, you would next look at the Internet Service Provider (ISP). This information also comes from the IP lookup, and is a more sure way of telling if the IP address is a proxy or not.

Basically, the ISP of an IP address is whoever manufactures and owns that IP. In the U.S. common ISPs are Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Spectrum, Cogent, AT&T, etc. Basically, large corporations that you call to install internet in your home. In order to install the said internet, they have to give you an IP address, which is your IP.

4. Inspect the User-proxy

Moving away from the specifics of a lookup you can inspect an IP addresses’ user agent.

A user agent is a set of identifying factors that any IP address sends along to a website. It includes information like the OS of your computer and the browser you’re using, specifically what versions.

This allows websites to send the most up to date graphics and coding back to the user, making your web browsing experience seamless.

5. Inspect Time on Page and Pages Visited

The governing principle of using proxies is to keep them looking like a human. People do this so those proxies won’t get banned or blocked by Google and other search engines; these engines are designed for use with humans, not machines.

The most common scenario of a proxy failing to do this is when it inspects a website’s pages, and how many pages it visits. If it looks at a web page for 2 seconds (not a typo) and visits 1,000 pages in under a minute, it’s a proxy.

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