Browsing anonymously is one of the biggest preference amongst people these days because privacy matters. Maintaining privacy online is essential in avoiding identity theft, blackmail/extortion, unsolicited selling and marketing and fraud. Therefore, if you want to connect to a web server in which your privacy is concerned, you might want to consider connecting to the INTERNET through a proxy. In order to choose a proxy server, Firefox browser offers you the following options. To access them, open “about:preferences” in a new tab, then head to Advanced -> Network -> Settings….

1. No Proxy

If you do not use any proxy or you want Firefox to ignore the system wide proxy, you can select “no proxy” option. This doesn’t have any impact on the performance if you were not using a proxy in the first place. The remaining option, therefore, then, is to control how the proxy is set and how fast the proxy is. Note that even if a proxy client is active on your operation system, Firefox is going to ignore it unless the proxy client is a VPN which directs all your network traffic.

2. Auto-detect Proxy

The auto detect proxy tends to make everything a lot easy for you. When you select the connections tab and LAN settings, the automatic proxy detection will get enabled and you will simply have to select or set up the automatic detection of the browser settings. Therefore, you should try to automatically detect settings on the automatic configuration screen of I.E 6 explorer and simply use it to connect to the proxy.

3. System Proxy

System proxy- system proxy settings come innately- the system proxy is used to connect to the network- it is possible to establish a connection with other browsers. The system proxy settings are naturally picked up by the browser and can be used easily.

4. Manual

On the other hand, the manual proxy settings simply works by you connecting to the proxy manually. All you want to do is go in the tab and install it manually to get it running. Using a proxy is no big feat and you can easily connect to one by going in the proxy tab in the browser and set it up manually.

It is advisable to use this if you have a list of one or more proxy servers. You should try to ask your system administration for the config information. Every proxy requires a particular host name and a port number. If the same proxy name and port number are used for every protocol, you should try to use this proxy server for every protocol.

For manual proxy, you can select between “HTTP”, “SSL”, FTP” and “SOCKS” proxies. Note that among these, only “SOCKS” proxy can provide the highest anonymity for you. For “SOCKS” proxy, there is an option in FireFox called “use remote DNS lookup” that will determine whether DNS lookups are to be done on the SOCKS server or your client. If remote DNS lookup is selected, then there would be no footprint of your client IP address when you are connecting to the web.

5. Automatic (Proxy Auto-Config or PAC)

Last but not the least, automatic proxy should be considered if you want Firefox to automatically detect the proxy setting for your network based on a PAC file. A PAC (Proxy Auto Config) file is basically a JavaScript file containing a function instructing Firefox how to route your traffic. This function can be used to for instance to filter out local IP’s or to tunnel some restricted websites from a proxy server or even it can be used to block advertisements. Using the automatic mode, you have the utmost control over how the browser handles networks requests the way you want it to behave. Writing a PAC file is pretty simple. Basically you have access to a function that provides website URL and host to you and in return the function decides whether this connection is direct or needs to be passed through a proxy server. Here is a sample of a PAC file:

function FindProxyForURL(url, host) {
  if ( /*condition to pass the request through a local proxy server */ ) {
    return 'PROXY 127.0.0.1:8080';
  }
  if ( /*condition to pass the request through a network proxy server */ ) {
    return 'PROXY 192.168.1.10:8181';
  }
  if (/* condition to block the request */) {
    return ‘PROXY 127.0.0.1:55555' //direct the request to a free local port
  }
  // do not use a proxy server
  return 'DIRECT';
}
FAQs:
  1. Can I use a local JS file as my PAC file?
    Yes, to introduce the local PAC file in Firefox use URL scheme. For instance: file:///Users/you-user-name/Desktop/my-pac-file.js. You can drag the JS file and drop it into your Firefox browser to generate the URL scheme.

  2. What are the accepted proxy server types?
    Proxy server type can be HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS and SOCK5. For instance if you have a local SSH server located on port 9292, the return function looks like this: return 'SOCKS5 127.0.0.1:9292';

  3. I have done some changes to the PAC file. How can I reload it?
    You need to go to Advanced -> Network -> Settings… and press the reload button every single time the PAC is modified to let Firefox load the new rules. Alternatively try Proxy Switcher add-on to have access to the reload option from the toolbar panel.

Control Proxy Settings from an Extension

If you want to change your Firefox’s proxy configuration a lot, it is recommended to install Proxy Switcher add-on. Using Proxy Switcher you have access to all the built-in settings from a toolbar panel. Different proxy types are color coded so know what type is selected when you are browsing the web.

Conclusion

The above mentioned proxies are the best ones for you to use if you want to set them on your browser. All of these proxies are easy to install and can be installed to run freely on the browser. Browsing anonymously is one of the ways to maintain or keep your privacy intact. And in order to stay private and browser anonymously, you can use the aforementioned proxies.

References:

  1. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/advanced-panel-settings-in-firefox

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