IP Blocking

Avoid IP Blocking with Proxies

Traffic flows freely on the Internet, but it can encounter roadblocks. Any website can control access by blocking certain IP addresses for reasons ranging from malicious activity to an excess of login attempts that indicate bot activity. Although IP blocking is an essential tool for keeping the internet safe and open, it can be a frustrating and inconvenient byproduct of high-volume web searching. An IP proxy setup can help people like marketers, researchers, and advertisers bypass website security systems and safely scrape the web for the large amounts of data that drive successful campaigns.

What is IP Blocking?

Every device capable of accessing the internet has a unique internet protocol (IP) address that’s assigned by an internet service provider (ISP). That address identifies the device in every request it makes to connect to a website. But for a variety of reasons, that IP might trigger a target website’s security system, which blocks or restricts access either permanently or for a certain period of time.

Any website can put IP blocking systems in place. Access blockers are pre-loaded in both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, and dedicated blocking software can also be installed or provided by web hosting services. These systems can compare incoming requests from any IP to those on an existing blacklist, or blacklist a new IP based on certain identifying characteristics or rules.

Blacklists, also called blocklists, can be internal to a website or server, or they can be an aggregate of multiple blacklists shared among ISPs. Various blacklist services are available to provide webmasters with constantly updated blacklists that include IPs known for malicious or fraudulent activity.

Servers can set up rules that control which IP addresses should be blocked based on elements of the IP itself, or its behavior. For example, a rule might block an IP that requests web pages at a specified rate of speed, or in a set time period. IPs might also be blocked based on country of origin or features that suggest they might be bots, spam, or malware. When a suspicious IP is detected, it can be added to the current blacklist for future blocking.

Why Block IPs?

IP blocking can catch legitimate IPs as well as questionable ones and blocking occurs for reasons both positive – protecting a website from malicious activity – and negative, such as government censorship of certain online content. In general, though, IP blocking remains a key tool for keeping the internet open and safe, and for giving website owners control over the traffic that has access to their site. Here are some common reasons for blocking an incoming IP:

Bot Blocking

“Botting” is a major problem for commercial sites of all kinds, particularly e-commerce ventures selling products in high demand. Automated bots can be configured to swarm online retailers and buy large amounts of products such as sneakers or event tickets, which can then be resold later at highly inflated prices. Servers and sites can set rules for blocking IPs with recognizable bot characteristics or behaviors.

Geo-Targeting and Content Localization

Some website content is targeted to specific markets across the globe, and sites in those regions may block IPs that originate from areas outside that designated location in order to limit traffic to relevant audiences. Geo-targeting often involves video streaming and gaming sites, but it’s also an issue for advertisers concerned about advertising in appropriate markets.

Protecting Sensitive Data and Classified Information

Some websites choose to restrict access to a select group of users in order to control access to sensitive data or restricted information. These sites might set up blacklists to block any IPs that are not on a limited list recognized by the system. New requests typically must be approved by site administrators, who decide whether to allow access.

Fraudulent Transactions

Ecommerce and other sites handling financial transactions might block IPs associated with past fraudulent activity on the site. However, blocking a residential IP can also block any subsequent users of that IP, even if they weren't using it at the time.

Social and Political Considerations

IP blocking helps control bad actions on the web, but it also enables censorship. Some countries impose blocks on IPs of certain foreign websites in an attempt to restrict citizens’ access to content related to unwelcome social and political issues. In these areas, government-controlled server gateways are configured to intercept blacklisted IPs and close the connection to these sites.

Spamming and DoS Attempts

IP blocking can protect websites from spammers and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Both of these strategies flood a target site with requests, which can cause massive disruptions for legitimate users. Malicious sites can use bots to generate high volumes of unwanted email to a target inbox, or to send so much traffic in a short period that the target site slows down or crashes completely, denying service to legitimate users.

High Traffic Activity

Ecommerce concerns and other businesses may have legitimate reasons for sending a high volume of requests to a target website. Web scraping helps marketers, advertisers, and researchers in a variety of fields collect needed data for purposes such as verifying ads, tracking trends, and checking up on competitors. But this kind of activity can also trigger blocking.

Although IP blocking has a role to play in the overall operations of the internet, it can interfere with legitimate reasons to conduct high-volume searches or to access certain blocked sites. Users who want to sidestep website IP blockers in order to conduct high-volume web searches, get content not available in their area, or just to protect privacy while online, can evade blocking with IP proxies – legitimate IPs that appear to originate from entirely different users and locations.

Avoiding IP Blocking with Proxies

For individual users, cloaking an assigned IP behind a proxy IP can make online activity more private and secure. One or more proxy IPs from a different location can open access to geo-restricted content that users wouldn’t otherwise access, and that also keeps actual location and identifying information from being sent to the server with each request.

Residential IP proxies conceal a user’s own IP address behind a real IP that looks and behaves like a unique IP address provided by a user’s ISP. That makes this kind of proxy the best choice for avoiding IP blockers during high-volume searching. Data centers can also generate new proxy IPs. These are typically less expensive than residential IPs, but they have a higher risk of triggering a target site’s IP blockers.

IP proxies are an essential tool for e-commerce and other commercial concerns as well as anyone conducting large amounts of online research that might trigger blocking. To handle high-volume search requests, proxy services can provide rotating proxy pools, which send a different IP address to the server with each connection request.

In some situations, it’s more useful to conceal your identity behind a single proxy. Static proxies, or sticky proxies that remain in place for a specific time period, can create the appearance of a legitimate user for doing multiple tasks on a single site, or for setting up social media or other accounts.

Quality proxy providers typically offer multiple, scalable options for users ranging from individuals looking for privacy or access to geo-restricted content to commercial enterprises running large-scale marketing campaigns.

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