Technology

Why are Proxy Servers Similar to Post Office Box (PO Box) Services?

Written by Quentin Hack

Your home address is like your IP address.

Your home address is that unique number that identifies your home from the rest of the world. You use it to order packages or send letters. Without your home address, the local post office can’t find you and can’t deliver your goods. The same with your IP, which identifies your home router from the rest of the world. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to receive IP packets which contain the data you are looking for.

With a home address, some people prefer to stay away from normal mail. They use mail too much, wanting privacy, security, and speed. The people that travel too much, or large enterprises with distributed branch offices, may also want someone to help manage their mail from a central location. Also, the people that don’t have access to door-to-door mail, may want access to mail coming from different countries….

What can all these people do?

They hire a Post Office Box (P.O. Box) services, which are secured, private, and lockable boxes to receive mail. P.O. Box services allow users to receive mail at an address, other than their home or office building.

A proxy service does a similar thing. Rather than using your own IP address to surf the web, you are using the proxy’s IP address. The Proxy server is like the intermediary between you and the Internet.

If you use a PO Box or know someone that uses it, you probably know the benefits. In this post, we’ll use examples of the PO Box service that helps and protect your home address, and contrast it with how a proxy also has the ability to help and protect your IP address.

Ways in How a Proxy is like a PO Box Service:

  • Privacy and Security.
  • Reduce Complexities and Introduce Control.
  • Spoof the Return Address.
  • Extend Geographical Network.
  • Have Presence in Other Countries.
  • Safe Advertising and Marketing.

Privacy and Security.

One of the main drives for getting a PO Box has been privacy, especially from large distributed businesses like banks, insurers, call centers, ISPs, etc. These businesses can’t publicly give their office addresses to anyone… Anybody with their physical address— disgruntled customers, hackers, war-drivers, scammers, may quickly turn out in front of the door the very next morning.

Additionally, people working at home, will likely get, not only their home mail but also their businesses and work mail. Working at home, doesn’t mean you need to publicly give your home address to everybody. Knowing that everybody might know your home address, including thieves, criminals, or anybody with unknown intentions can be really uncomfortable.

A proxy? Similarly a proxy protects your home (or office) IP address, from being publicly available in unwanted or target destinations. From torrent swarms, copyright trolls, blacklists, ban-lists, etc. The proxy server is the middleman—the buffer, between your IP address and the rest of the world. When you are visiting a website, all the website will see is your proxy’s IP and not your source IP.

Reduce Complexities and Introduce Control.

P.O. Boxes may also help manage mail. Reduce its bulk and forward inbound mail. Instead of receiving everything in a single headquarters, a PO Box service serves as an intermediary to all the mail going towards a single destination (headquarters). It sorts it out to multiple PO Boxes (according to the branch office), and redirects all mail to the specific branch.

A proxy? A proxy may help reduce the complexities of large and distributed networks, by centralizing requests and responses. For example an SSL proxy may help to add encryption to all outbound packets, an HTTP proxy may centralize requests and change headers to improve anonymity. Or an HTTP proxy may also help introduce control, by blocking access to specific websites.

img source: unsplash.com

Extend Geographical Network.

One of the most common uses of PO box services is to help deliver mail in countries where there is no door-to-door delivery. For example, if some countries don’t have local mail service to deliver mail right in front of the door, a user can still rent a PO Box service located in that country and receive mail.

A proxy? In a similar case, there are some services that are restricted to specific regions or countries (i.e. Netflix US or Hulu) and do not deliver those services to other countries. A proxy server located in a country where there is service, helps give access to those countries without that service.

Spoof the Return Address.

PO Box services help have a real physical address that works, while still protecting the privacy of its users. For example, some online sellers need to have a physical address to receive return goods. Of course, publishing their home address on the Internet is not a good idea.

A proxy? A proxy forwards your requests to a destination, and the responses to your source. The destination knows the proxy’s IP, and believes that this is the real and final IP. But the proxy is the spoofed return IP address, it still needs to forward the response to the source.

Img source: pexels.com

Have Presence in Other Countries.

International businesses can hire a PO Box in order to have presence and trading possibilities via a postal address in such a country. In the same way, expats living in other countries, can still benefit from a PO Box service that manages their mail at home. Some PO Box may even have services like scanning mail and uploading to a cloud platform so that users can have access to their international mail.

A proxy? A proxy located in another country can also help you gain a competitive advantage by helping you with market research, competition research, SEO, data scraping, ads testing, etc.

Safe Advertising and Marketing.

A PO Box may also help protect your address while advertising and marketing. Advertisers and marketers that want to adhere to the compliance guide CAN-SPAM Act, must include a physical address. This compliance ensures that your recipients know where you are located. Your message must include a valid physical postal address. A PO Box comes in handy, because you don’t use your own physical address.

A Proxy? Rotating IPv6 Proxies can provide a valid and fresh IP address, for every request that you make to the Internet. They’ll keep your source IP safe and improve your marketing and advertising efforts, especially when data scraping.

Img source: unsplash.com

Final Words

Proxy servers protect your IP address. They hide it behind the proxy’s server IP, making your entire web browsing activity completely anonymous and private. Proxies also help, control and reduce complexities of distributed networks, extend the geography, spoof the IP address, have presence in other countries, and provide safe advertising and marketing.

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About the author

Quentin Hack