What is SOCKS5 and Why Should You Use It ?

Friday, 7 January 2022

What is SOCKS5 and Why Should You Use It ?

Posted by Madhu Gupta

While browsing the internet, you may be looking for anonymity or security. For a seamless connection that does not require you to make unnecessary tradeoffs on vital aspects such as speed, you may want to connect your internet traffic using a socket secure (SOCKS) proxy and, specifically, the latest iteration, SOCKS5 proxies. You may even want to connect to an external server from a firewall-protected network.

First, though, let’s explore what SOCKS5 is. As a class of proxy servers, the SOCKS5 proxies route all the traffic from your browser (web client) through itself before directing it to a server. Simply, it intercepts communication between your computer and the target website and assigns it a new IP address, in effect hiding the actual IP address. However, unlike other proxies, SOCKS5 proxies go beyond, as we will detail later.

What is SOCKS5?

Before detailing what SOCKS5 is, let’s explore socket secure (SOCKS) and its history. 


At its core, socket secure is a network or internet protocol that supports communication between client applications such as browsers, torrent clients, and web-connected software like Skype. First launched in 1992, SOCKS uses the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection, created by a proxy server, to route internet traffic from any of these applications through the proxy before connecting to the target website/web host. As a result, the SOCKS protocol is synonymous with the SOCKS proxy.

Although the SOCKS proxy intercepts all internet traffic between your computer and the target websites, it does not interpret it. Instead, it simply facilitates the connection, especially when there is a firewall that would otherwise block TCP connections to external servers without the presence of a SOCKS proxy. In this regard, SOCKS proxies provide access to external servers from firewall-protected networks by relaying user sessions through the firewall.

SOCKS is a layer five protocol on the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). As such, it does not execute encryption. It also does not break data up into packets – this is the responsibility of the TCP. Instead, it simply establishes and maintains connections between the web client (web-based applications) and the web host/server to ensure that all packets reach their destination in the correct order.

Limitations of SOCKS

Initial versions of the SOCKS protocol were less secure and clunky. For instance, it offered little authentication, if any. As a result, a web client would easily access SOCKS services using a username only. No password was needed. At the same time, a user would have to know the IP addresses of the servers they wanted to connect to. This, unfortunately, meant that they had to convert domain names to IP addresses – also known as domain name resolution – which would take up unnecessary time.

These limitations called for improvements, which resulted in the development of SOCKS5.


Released in 1996, SOCKS5 (Socket Secure version 5) is the most up-to-date version of the original socket secure (SOCKS) protocol. Besides routing internet traffic through SOCKS5 proxies, providing access to external servers from firewall-protected networks, the SOCKS5 brokers offer enhanced security and seamless connectivity. 

For instance, where the earlier SOCKS versions lagged in authentication, the SOCKS5 thrives. It currently has three authentication methods as standard, namely:

  • Username/password authentication, proposed in a March 1996 memo
  • The Generic Security Standard Application Programming Interface (GSS-API) authentication
  • Null authentication where no authentication is required

In addition to the authentication methods, SOCKS5 proxies also utilize the Secure Shell (SSH) encrypted tunneling approach to route internet traffic. Essentially, SSH is a protocol connection that supports encryption, creating a secure channel between your computer and a remote computer known as the SSH server. Furthermore, SOCKS5 supports UDP proxies, whereas the earlier version, SOCKS4, does not. That said, why should you use SOCKS5 and SOCKS5 proxies? 

Why You Should Use SOCKS5 and SOCKS5 Proxies

The SOCKS5 protocol and SOCKS5 proxies offer the following benefits, demonstrating why you should adopt them.

  • Access servers from a firewall-protected network
  • The protocol is easy to set up
  • Better speed and performance
  • The proxy servers have an array of other applications
  • Enhanced security

Access to Servers from Firewall-Protected Networks

SOCKS5 proxies are ideal for situations where the client is behind a firewall, that is, when a firewall restricts access to external websites and servers. Such firewall-protected networks work in such a way that clients are only permitted to establish TCP connections to external servers if they use a SOCKS5 server; otherwise, the connection fails. 

SOCKS5 Protocol is Easy to Set Up

You can easily configure most web-based applications – browsers, torrent applications, cryptocurrency wallets, video streaming software – to communicate with web servers through SOCKS5 proxies. 

Better Speed and Performance

As detailed earlier, the SOCKS5 protocol is not responsible for encrypting data. Instead, it only establishes and maintains connections and, in doing so, ensures that the packets reach their destination in the form they were sent. As a result, the lack of encryption makes SOCKS5 proxies faster. By contrast, virtual private networks (VPNs), which encrypt data, are slower.

SOCKS5 Proxies Can be Used for Other Uses

Importantly, SOCKS5 proxies are general-purpose proxy servers. 

Proxy servers

They are not a particular type of proxy server. This means that their function is not limited to routing internet traffic under the SOCKS5 protocol. Instead, they can execute other applications.

Enhanced Security

SOCKS5 proxies assign the internet traffic from your computer a new IP address. In this regard, they provide you with a new online identity. At the same time, thanks to the advanced authentication methods and the SSH encrypted tunneling method, SOCKS5 features enhanced security.


The Socket Secure (SOCKS) protocol has undergone several improvements since its first launch in 1992. As a result, its latest and most up-to-date version boasts enhanced security and performance. At its core, SOCKS5 establishes and maintains connections by routing traffic through SOCKS5 proxies. This offers multiple benefits, including access to external servers from firewall-protected networks and more.


Post a Comment