What is a SOCKS Proxy and How Does it Work?

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Raj Vardhman
Written by
Raj Vardhman

Updated · Jan 25, 2024

Raj Vardhman
Chief Strategist, Techjury | Project Engineer, WP-Stack | Joined January 2023 | Twitter LinkedIn
Raj Vardhman

Raj Vardhman is a tech expert and the Chief Tech Strategist at TechJury.net, where he leads the rese... | See full bio

April Grace Asgapo
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April Grace Asgapo


April Grace Asgapo
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
April Grace Asgapo

April is a proficient content writer with a knack for research and communication. With a keen eye fo... | See full bio

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Socket Secure (SOCKS) Proxy can protect your online identity and handle heavy traffic. It is a more secure alternative than a traditional proxy server. 

A traditional proxy server has chances of cyberattacks and inconsistent internet speed. The need for secure connections becomes more evident as there’ll be $10.5T in annual cybercrime costs by 2025. 

Read on to discover more about:

  • What is a SOCKS Proxy
  • How does it work
  • How to set up SOCKS Proxy
  • SOCKS proxy providers in the market\

Exploring SOCKS Proxy

SOCKS Proxy protects its users’ real identity by changing a data’s original IP address before reaching its final destination. 

The internet is run via the TCP/IP communication protocol, which enables computer communication through the Internet.

It allows users to change their virtual location while using the internet and unblock the websites they are navigating. 

A traditional proxy server and a SOCKS proxy protect the user’s online identity. However, SOCKS serves better alternatives. Here are some reasons:

  • SOCKS can handle broader internet traffic, making it valuable and versatile for data traffic. 
  • TCP and UDP protocols can also be used for more comprehensive solutions using different services and applications. 
  • Users know it to be more reliable and faster than typical proxy servers, which is vital for a stable connection. 

Some Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers offer SOCKS as an additional service in changing virtual locations. Depending on the version, the SOCKS proxy has varying authentication methods

In general, SOCKS verifies with the following:

  • Null 
  • GSS-API (Generic Security Service Application Programming Interface) 
  • Username
  • Password 

Authentication methods are part of the SOCKS proxy’s security features, allowing the source to connect with a representative. 

💡Did You Know?

System administrator for MIPS Computer Systems David Koblas created the protocol in its initial iteration. Koblas made SOCKS publicly available in 1992 by presenting a paper at the Usenix Security Symposium that year.

Learn more about how the SOCKS proxy works here: 

SOCKS Proxy: How it Works

A network configuration (SOCKS protocol) facilitates communications between servers through a firewall. It routes network traffic or data packets (messages) on behalf of a client. 

When you’re using a SOCKS proxy, your IP address is hidden from the internet during data exchange. The IP address that your data is wearing is from the SOCKS proxy. Your personal information is invisible to targeted web pages. 

Using a SOCKS proxy benefits internet users aside from IP address privacy. 

Advantages of Using SOCKS Proxy

Internet users should benefit from SOCKS Proxy's capabilities. The SOCKS protocol makes data transfer between servers easier, which could result in the following advantages: 

Increased Online Security 

SOCKS proxy uses a total Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection with verification. The protocol also applies Secure Shell (SSH) encrypted tunnel for data transfer. 

Simple Troubleshooting 

Each OSI model layer has its function and components, saving professionals time finding the problem.  They can focus on a specific layer and directly address the technical issue. 

Compatibility Between Products 

Developers can make devices or systems to interact with other vendors’ products. SOCKS transfers smaller data packets than other proxies making it easier for users to connect with other platforms and websites.

Data Flow Understanding

The network operators understand the data flow easily because of the OSI model that involves software and hardware. 

Quick Network Connections

SOCKS proxy doesn’t change packet headers, unlike other proxies. This feature improves the performance of SOCKS in handling data.

No Limitations on Network Traffic 

The flexibility level of the SOCKS proxy allows it to handle any protocol, program, and data traffic.

Bypassing Censorship

Internet users with a SOCKS proxy can skip location and censorship restrictions as it bridges between users and the internet. 

There are different versions of the SOCKS proxy. Users can select which products to use, considering the part and components to focus on. 

SOCKS Proxy Versions

SOCKS proxy has two versions, SOCKS4 and SOCKS5. Users can choose from the two to surf the internet anonymously. 


The internal protocol  SOCKS4 can ensure data packet rally between servers because of its TCP connection. However, it doesn't have supports like UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and SSH tunneling. 


Socket Secure 5 uses authentication, UDP, and SSH over a TCP connection. This makes it a more secure protocol than the SOCKS4. It is less likely to be interrupted by internet attackers due to its features.  

Both versions use a TCP connection, but SOCKS5’s connection is more secure because of the SSH tunneling feature. SOCKS4 has more vulnerability to sniffing and tampering from online attackers. 

Overall, SOCKS5 is three times more secure than SOCKS4. 

Learn how to configure the SOCKS proxy in the next section. 

How to Set Up SOCKS Proxy

Setting up a SOCKS proxy is a great way to improve online security and privacy. To begin using it, you must configure it using a browser and its settings. 

After configuration, all network traffic will pass through the SOCKS proxy. 

Configuring SOCKS proxy on a browser

Here are the steps to configure on a browser with Windows, Linux, and Mac devices:

Mozilla Firefox

If you are using Mozilla Firefox, here are the steps to configure SOCKS Proxy on this browser:

1. In Firefox, select the three-lined icon in the upper right corner. 

2. Click Preferences. Scroll down and tap on Network Settings.

3. Select Settings. After this, a window will pop up. 

4. Choose the Manual proxy configuration.

5. Type in in the SOCKS Host and 9090 in the Port. Click OK

creenshot from Linuxize on setting up  SOCKS on Mozilla 

Google Chrome

You can also configure SOCKS Proxy on Google Chrome. Here’s how:

1. Tap on the menu button or the icon with three lines. Click Settings.

Screenshot of setting up SOCKS proxy on Google Chrome

2. Tap on the System section.

Screenshot of setting up SOCKS proxy on Google Chrome

3. Enter your Proxy server address as shown in the first solution.

4. Tap on Open your computer’s proxy settings.

5. Type in the Proxy server address.

Setting up SOCKS Proxy on an Operating System

Users must set up a SOCKS proxy on their device’s operating system to verify their identity. Digital identity verification has become a staple in online security measures. 


Windows has a built-in SOCKS5 proxy, but users can also set it up on their desktop through these steps: 

1. Press the Windows key. Click on Control Panel and Internet Options.

2. Go to the Connections tab.

3. Tap on LAN settings.

4. Click the box beside Use a proxy server for your LAN to enable it.

Screenshot of setting up SOCKS proxy on Windows

5.Turn the Bypass proxy server for the local addresses setting to enabled.

6. Tap the Advanced.

7. Turn off the Use of the same proxy server for all protocols.

Screenshot of setting up SOCKS proxy on Windows

8. Under Socks, indicate the port and server address of the SOCKS5 proxy.

9. Remove details under FTP, Secure, and HTTP. Tap on OK and Apply.


Say you're using a MacOS device connected to a public network. You can setup SOCKS Proxy to secure your connection with the steps below:

1. Open Network Control Panel. Click Advanced and Proxies.

2. Set SOCKS Proxy (only) with the proxy settings (localhost / 8888)

3. Leave the settings for HTTP proxy and other settings. 

Continue reading to learn the difference between SOCKS and HTTP.

💡Did You Know?

Compared to 34% of men, around 66% of Apple's customers are women. Additionally, compared to the overall population, Apple's core demographic is often younger and less likely to be retired. 

Difference Between HTTP and SOCKS Proxy

Some users need clarification about which protocol to use, SOCKS or HTTP (HyperText Markup Language). 

In this section, find out more about their differences. 


Users can apply an HTTP proxy to add security between the client and the user. While SOCKS proxy doesn’t use tunnel encryptions from other alternatives and can affect security levels depending on the usage. 

SOCKS5 includes data packet headers for fewer errors in data traffic. 


SOCKS proxy is quicker in internet-based routing than HTTP proxies. HTTP protocols have a decent speed and are more applicable for data transfers in smaller quantities.


File sharing is better with SOCKS than HTTP. SOCKS can be used for file sharing between the same and different products. 

It can access target servers behind the firewall, making it more flexible than HTTP. In contrast, HTTP can only filter content and collect data packets through browsers. 

HTTP proxy handles requests in HTTP forms, while SOCKS handles different protocols. SOCKS can also be more beneficial for firewall cases, implying that people can visit restricted websites.

Since SOCKS is ideal for more extensive data network traffic, some users wonder if they can use it with their current VPN. 

✅Pro Tip: 

SOCKS could be a dependable option for tasks requiring downloading and sending significant volumes of data. At the same time, HTTP proxies could be ideal for data filtering for performance or security reasons. 

Learn more about the effect of using SOCKS5 and VPN together in the next section.

Using SOCKS5 with a VPN

SOCKS5 and VPN alter and hide your IP address. However, the SOCKS5 proxy doesn’t encrypt the network traffic, but VPN does. 

If used together, your internet speed will become slow because both will route your network many times. 

Between SOCKS5 and VPN, SOCKS5 will increase your online anonymity and improve internet speed more than VPN. 

👍Helpful Article:

This Techjury article on why you need a VPN will help you learn more if you're interested in learning more about VPNs.

In the next section, you'll discover the best SOCKS5 providers that you can choose from.

Best SOCKS5 Proxy Provider

What is the Best Proxy Server?

Best for: Best overall


Smartproxy is a top-rated proxy provider trusted by many. Its 65 million+ proxies from 195+ locations help bypass CAPTCHAs, geo-blocks, and IP bans. It offers a 14-day free trial and has a high rating of 4.7 on Trustpilot with 90% 5-star ratings, making it one of the best in the industry.

Visit Website

The most recent proxy protocol is SOCKS5. It offers versatile, anonymous, and fast services. This version is ideal for daily internet surfing, gaming, torrents, video streaming, etc. 

There are several brands of SOCKS5 in the market, but here are the most reliable ones: 

Smartproxy—Perfect for Scraping Web Data

Yahoo and Techradar recognize Smartproxy for their effortless yet practical solutions. 

Smartproxy offers residential proxies, site unblockers, and mobile proxies. It ranges between $7.5 to $28, depending on the user's needs and wants.

IPRoyal—Great for Unlimited Traffic

IPRoyal’s proxy plans are residential, data center, static residential, mobile, and sneaker. With $1 to $81, its clients can access a premium proxy network and outstanding technical support. 

Oxylabs—Protection from Malicious Websites

With 4.5-star ratings, Oxylabs covers proxies from 195 locations worldwide. It claims to have smooth integration, rotating proxies, and additional security. 

Oxylabs’ regular proxy plans range from $15 to $800, while its enterprise plans range from $1,750 to $7,500.

WEBSHARE—Full Control for a Small Price 

WEBSHARE offers products like proxy servers (data centers), static residential proxies, and residential proxies. This provider allows users complete control of their subscriptions, from $0.05 to $4.5.


SOCKS proxy is more secure than a traditional proxy server. 

It offers better online security, more straightforward troubleshooting, more compatibility, no limitations on network traffic, etc. The most recent SOCKS proxy, SOCKS5, is quicker than a VPN and more adaptable than HTTP.


Are SOCKS5 proxies detectable?

Yes, because it is similar to another proxy server. There is always a possibility of their IP address being picked up despite it changing its IP address.

Can my IP be tracked if I use a SOCKS proxy?

Your IP cannot be tracked if you use high proxies. Proxies such as SOCKS5 offer the highest level of anonymity that you could need. 

Is SOCKS5 traffic encrypted?

SOCKS5 uses SSH encrypted tunnel but does not provide encryption for the data sent through the proxy. This means third parties can intercept the network traffic. 

Can websites detect proxy servers?

Yes, websites can check the consistency of a user’s IP address. They can see if your IP address is changing. If it does, it can be a sign that you’re using a proxy server to hide your real identity. 

Are SOCKS proxies safe?

SOCKS5 proxies offer better authentication features and faster internet connection for safer surfing. 


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