Does a Proxy Hide My Identity Completely?

Many users who value privacy online opt to use a secure proxy. These secure software systems essentially act as a gateway between the user and the Internet. They process requests as they go between the client and the recipient. They conceal your IP address, which is an essential aspect of user identification, so they are a great way to mask your identity online. But does a proxy hide my identity completely? The answer is no – although proxies hide your IP address, which helps hide your online identity, they can’t entirely mask your identity from everyone on the Internet. In this article, we’ll briefly break down the limitations of proxies and what they are helpful for, even if they can’t make you fully anonymous.

Can a proxy hide your IP address?

Even though it can’t hide you entirely, yes, most proxies hide your IP address. Instead of displaying your public IP address when the user connects to the Internet, it displays the IP address of the proxy server. Websites you visit won’t be able to see your real location when your IP address is hidden. This then gives users a privacy boost.

What don't proxies do?

Use a proxy to hide your identity.

As helpful as proxies are, they aren’t a comprehensive solution to all users’ needs. Proxies don’t encrypt your Internet traffic or data, which means they’re not as secure as a virtual private network (VPN).

Furthermore, because proxy servers store users’ IP addresses with their web request data, it’s possible for that information to get out to a third party. If the proxy sells their user data, which some do, you have no control over where that information goes. Even if they don’t, data breaches happen. Should the proxy server you use experience a data breach, your IP address, browsing activity, and other data could be exposed.

Proxies and web proxies also don’t provide privacy aside from web requests made during proxy use. Bad actors can still work around the system to see user traffic and Internet activity. This is especially true if you use a free proxy. Though proxies provide some level of anonymity at a low cost, they aren’t as comprehensive as other privacy solutions.

Who can still see my identity with a proxy?

Websites you visit while hiding your IP address with a secure proxy won’t be able to see your IP address, but there are others who can.

  • Internet service providers (ISPs) – Your Internet service provider still knows who you are even if you hide your IP address with a proxy. They can’t see the sites you visit in your web browser, but they do see that you’re connected to a proxy service.
  • Proxy servers – The proxy servers that your traffic goes through can see your real IP address as well as your online activity and web traffic.
  • Anyone who accesses the proxy server logs – Though it doesn’t happen with all types of proxy servers, it’s possible for hackers or bad actors to access the logs of a proxy and see the real IP addresses and Internet traffic logs of users. They can then use this information in a variety of different ways.

It’s entirely possible that none of these entities will ever do anything with the knowledge of your real IP address and browsing data. However, it’s still worth recognizing the possibilities. If you want to know if your own proxy is detectable, use the Proxy Check Tool to find out. 

The bottom line: proxies hide your identity, but not completely

In short, proxies hide your IP address, but they don’t hide your entire identity. They also don’t encrypt connections. They’re a good solution to those who are looking to get a boost in their online privacy, but they aren’t a comprehensive solution.

If you want a way to hide your identity online, consider using a VPN server instead. Like proxies, VPNs mask your IP address, but they also encrypt your traffic. Though not impossible, it’s harder to trace down someone’s identity when they’re using a VPN than it is when they’re using a proxy. In the end, pick the option that works best for you.