What Is a SOCKS5 Proxy?

by Eric Hammer

Socks5 is a type of web proxy, allowing the user to connect to the Internet through another computer. This may be done because they want to mask their own IP address, or for security purposes because the computer with the Internet connection has better firewall protection (i.e., it doesn’t allow in programs which may damage the computer).


The Socks protocol was originally written by David Koblas, a systems engineer for MIPS computer Systems. The protocol was originally proprietary (meaning that only those who purchased a license could use it), however in 1992, MIPS was acquired by another company, SGI who made the protocol publicly available to everyone.

Better Security

When the Internet was originally created, it was based on Hyper Text Transfer Protocol or HTTP. This system was never designed to create a secure connection between computers and thus anyone surfing the Internet was potentially exposing their surfing to anyone else who cared to use a packet sniffer to read what they were doing. The SOCKS protocol was designed from the ground up as a way of creating a secure connection between computers, incorporating firewalls.

SOCKS5 Created in Cooperation with Aventail

SOCKS5, as the name implies was the fifth iteration of the SOCKS protocol and was designed in cooperation with Aventail, a company who was marketing the technology outside of Asia in 1996. The protocol was adopted as an official protocol of the Internet Engineering Task Force in 1996.

Considered the Most Efficient SOCKS Protocol

According to Secpoint, an IT Security Firm, SOCKS5 is considered by many IT professionals to be the most efficient SOCKS protocol available “to date.” As of June, 2010, it is also the most recent version of the protocol available.

SOCKS Stands for “Sockets”

Unlike HTTP, which stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the name SOCKS is simply a shortened version of the word “Sockets,” meaning it simply a socket that one may plug into in order to communicate between two computers.

About the Author

Eric Hammer has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has appeared in "The Jerusalem Post" and "The New Standard" newspapers. In addition, he writes for various websites. Hammer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera pair of socks image by Alx from Fotolia.com