What is SOCKS5 & How do SOCKS Proxies Work?

Need to privately and securely access geo-restricted content? A SOCKS proxy got you! The same goes for circumventing firewalls, torrenting, P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing, browsing anonymously, and more. Question is: How is a SOCKS proxy capable of all these?

Under the hood of a SOCKS proxy is the SOCKS protocol (an internet protocol that manages the anonymous flow of data packets from your device to a target server, through a proxy server). So, SOCKS5 (Socket Secure 5) is a version of the SOCKS protocol.

SOCKS5 offers you additional advanced features and security enhancements compared to its predecessor, SOCKS4. With these enhanced SOCKS5 features, you can evade IP bans on gaming servers or forums, limit online tracking, and bypass network restrictions.

How do SOCKS Proxies Work

Here are outstanding SOCKS5 features:

SOCKS5 Advanced Features

1. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) Support

Unlike SOCKS4 which supports TCP only, SOCKS5 can manage the transmission of both UDP and TCP traffic. Therefore, you can use SOCKS5 proxies to manage a wider range of applications.

That includes email or web browsing applications that depend on reliable data transmission, and video streaming or gaming applications that require faster, connectionless transmission.

You can also transmit VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) traffic over SOCKS5 proxies, enhancing privacy and security against various cyber attacks.

2. Authentication

Whenever you want an extra layer of proxy server access control, you can buy SOCKS5 proxies as they support multiple authentication methods.

From username/password to GSS-API-based (Generic Security Services Application Program Interface) authentication, you can ensure that only authorized users get to use a specific pool of SOCKS5 proxies.

3. IPv6 Support

To future proof its reliability, SOCKS5 supports the use of both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. So, you rarely have to worry about compatibility issues.

If an application is transitioning from the use of IPv4 to IPv6, you can still access it over SOCKS5 with minimal to no technical hiccups.

4. DNS Resolution

To augment your online activities’ privacy and integrity further, SOCKS5 can resolve domain names. Rather than resolving a domain name before sending a request to a SOCKS5 proxy server, you can configure your device to forward the domain name and other packet details to the proxy.

The SOCKS5 proxy resolves the DNS queries, preventing the possibility of DNS leaks which can reveal the websites you are visiting to third party network entities.

This feature coupled with IP masking allows you to transmit even the most sensitive information through a SOCKS server.

IP masking is the key mechanism SOCKS proxies use to keep your online activities anonymous. Let’s explore how SOCKS proxies work to discover how IP masking occurs, limiting your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and third parties from monitoring your activities.

How SOCKS Proxies Work

To anonymize your online activities or location, SOCKS proxies act as intermediaries between your device (computer) and a target website server.

You route internet traffic through the SOCKS proxy, which then hides your IP address and fetches the desired data packets on your behalf. This is how that happens:

1. You configure your device to interact with the SOCKS proxy server

Once you purchase a SOCKS proxy server from a reliable provider, they avail the server’s details. These details include the proxy server’s address (URL or IP address), port number, or authentication details.

Using the details, you configure your device to establish a connection with the SOCKS proxy server. This means navigating to your network settings based on your device’s operating system and updating the proxy settings.

If you are connecting to a SOCKS4 proxy server, you will mostly need the server’s IP address or URL and port number only.

For a SOCKS5 proxy server, you may need to have the authentication details based on the authentication technique in use.

Once correctly configured and authenticated (if necessary), your device should be able interact with the proxy server. To test the connection, you can ping the server’s host-name or IP address.

If the proxy server is reachable, you should see ping replies from the server indicating the time it has taken for the packets to travel to and from the server.

If you receive errors after pinging the proxy server, troubleshoot the issue by checking your network connection or assessing the proxy server’s status. The proxy may be down or the provider might have configured it to ignore ping requests by default.

2. You send a request to the proxy server

After successfully establishing a connection to the proxy server, you can send a request to the proxy server.

Fire up your favorite browser and browse away! Or launch a web-based application and send a request. The request does not flow directly to the target server. It first goes through the proxy server.

3. SOCKS proxy forwards the request to the target server

Once the proxy server receives the request, it breaks it down to understand its source and destination.

It also analyzes the request header to determine the type of traffic coming through (can be UDP or TCP traffic).

With the details in mind, the SOCKS proxy is required to establish a connection to the destination server on your behalf and forward the request to the target server.

However, before it can do that, it strips your original IP address from the packet header and replaces it with its own IP address, hiding your identity.

4. The target server sends a response to the SOCKS proxy server

The target server receives your request and processes it before sending a response to the proxy server. The target server believes the proxy server is the owner of the request as it contains the proxy server’s IP address.

And that’s how websites find it hard to track or even monitor your web traffic whenever you use a proxy server.

5. SOCKS proxy forwards the response to your device

Finally, the SOCKS proxy receives the response from the target server.

And, before it sends it to you, it must remove its IP address from the response header and replace the IP with yours.

It does this to ensure the response packets reach you. Once the response gets to you, the cycle repeats for all subsequent requests.

All data sent from your device to any target server, and vice versa, passes through the specified SOCKS proxy server.

The SOCKS proxy server handles the whole data transmission process, ensuring your requests get to the target destination and you get the desired responses (without revealing your identity).


Most times, using a SOCKS proxy is as simple as adjusting your device’s proxy settings to reflect a proxy server’s details and then accessing the internet via the proxy server.

However, have you ever wondered how the SOCKS proxy anonymizes your online activities or gives you access to geo-blocked content. If not, here is your chance to discover how a SOCKS proxy works and what benefits you can get out of it.

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