Open proxies have existed for quite some time. The increased use of anonymous proxies for illegal online activities has boosted their development in recent years. One example of this is the development of daisy-chained proxies such as the Tor system. These provide the ability to link multiple open proxies to allow end users to pass their content requests along different hosts that may be geographically dispersed, thus allowing for anonymity. Another specific example relates to The Pirate Bay service. Web pages exist that provide lists of active proxies that may be used to access the content on The Pirate Bay (see image 01). The Pirate Bay was recently blocked due to Intellectual Property Rights violations.
Image 1: Screenshot example of a web proxy list on a web page for The Pirate Bay
These systems and services do not achieve anonymity completely, however. End user information, such as an IP Address, is still available to the proxy operators. It is the geographically dispersed nature of anonymizers and the inconsistent cybercrime laws across countries that prevent challenges for law enforcement organizations or other interested parties. There is no defined cooperative to monitor and report such online activity. Consequently, the use of anonymous proxy services to mask illegal online activities will continue to rise in the foreseeable future.
Anonymizers are one of the nearly 500 categories of URLs that zvelo tracks for its partners and we see hundreds of new anonymizer websites come online each day, all of which are added to the zveloDB™ URL Database. Additionally, zvelo provides functionality for returning website categorizations for the URLs being sought from within many anonymizer sites (what we refer to as embedded URLs) to support better analysis of web traffic as well as finer grained policies for blocking inappropriate content.
More About Anonymizers (or Anonymous Proxies)
Anonymizers can be broken out into three (3) categories: Caching, Reverse, and Open proxies. Caching proxies are typically implemented within an organization to provide more efficient access to commonly requested resources on the Web. Reverse proxies, on the other hand, function in the opposite manner. Working on the server side, these proxies collect responses from the server and replay them back when requested. Again, the main objective of this is to reduce the amount of time required to process requests. Lastly, open proxies are publicly accessible proxies that allow end users to access resources they require without disclosing their respective IP Address, guaranteeing, to some degree, anonymity.