Retrieval, posting, and altering of data can be carried out in a number of different ways. Doing so programmatically is generally the most efficient way of doing this.
Systems that can be used to do this are many and varied, but one of the simplest is using the cURL command tool.
It provides a comprehensive instruction set that allows you to connect with servers and other web terminals, and when using cURL with proxy, it will enable you to circumvent obstacles that might attempt to block you.
What is cURL
cURL is a command tool that allows you to seamlessly process HTTP requests such as GET, POST, and UPDATE. It is a way in which you programmatically incorporate access to servers to execute these requests and either extract, post, or alter data on another server.
It is capable of executing complex processes yet, the commands are simple to comprehend, which makes it easy for almost anyone to be able to master and use.
Proxies: What Are They And how Do They Function
Proxies provide an alternative IP address for your HTTP requests. It works by rerouting your traffic via an application called a proxy server. This server acts as an intermediary where the IP address of your request is altered to show instead a new IP address (the proxy).
The traffic is then forwarded to the target website, which can only identify and log the proxy, and not the originating IP, as it cannot see it.
Classifications of Proxies
There are several classifications of proxies, such as Datacenter, residential and mobile proxies each specifically identifiable by the numbering of the number subsets. Each of these classifications has specific use cases that can be employed when they are combined with cURL.
Datacenter proxies would predominantly be used for server side operation and checks, although they can often work with public-facing websites too. They are the least expensive and most easily sourced.
If however, you are accessing public facing sites or servers then residential and mobile proxies are used. These make the request traffic appear to come from average household or business connections.
Types of Proxies
Proxies can function in several ways, but when applying them with cURL, there are two main fsystems. Either as static IPs or from with a proxy pool.
Static proxies are individual IP addresses that can be shared or dedicated but are allotted to you, for you to use. You would receive a list of however many that you have leased that you can use with cURL inside your application.
Rotating proxies, on the other hand, are IP addresses that remain part of a poll. You are provided with a pool access IP address, port, and password the same form as for a static proxy. This you add to your application and it rotates the proxies from the pool, changing them out for your protocol requests every few minutes.
Why Would You Want to Use Proxies with cURL?
cURL, as we have seen, is a fantastic way to program the sending of HTTP requests to a server for actioning. However, attached to each request is identifying information from the originating source, which you are unlikely to want to reveal.
There can be several problems with your identifying data being sent that we will discuss in greater detail below. Using proxies is the leading solution for obfuscating the identity of the source of the requests.
They are simple to implement with cURL, with the '-U' or '-proxy user' command and then adding the proxy details. By incorporating proxies, you will provide a shield for the HTTP request, sending alternate IP addresses instead, thereby hiding your identity.
One key reason why you might not want identification information sent is geolocation blocking. Unfortunately, on today's web, you are likely to come across geolocation access restrictions regularly. These can be implemented for many reasons, both commercial and political. Probably the most common one you will come across in everyday use is those applied to entertainment. "This content is unavailable in your location and will often appear for film, music, or sporting content, even on huge distribution networks like YouTube.
There can be valid and not-so-valid reasons for wishing to get around regional filters and country blocks. Workarounds can easily be created by using proxies and cURL to execute the sending the HTTP requests to servers that implement the block.
Proxies enable the traffic source to be disguised making it appear to be from a region or country that has access facilitated, and cURL can be used to submit the requests enabling scaling programmatically.
Protecting your Privacy
Hiding your own originating IP address and or protecting your privacy can be essential in many use-case scenarios with cURL. Proxies provide this way of masking your protocol requests ensuring the origins of your traffic are, therefore, disguised from the website you are looking to access.
Scraping Data from Websites without Getting Blocked
Scraping data is another use for using proxies with cURL. The majority of major sites actively try to prohibit data scraping, usually for commercial reasons.
Suspicious activity is flagged, and IP addresses are banned from accessing their sites if detected. Scraping with proxies allows you to avoid detection by creating an automation process where the IP hitting the sites are continuously changing allowing you to scrape information from sites and data sources without getting blocked or rate-limited.
Debugging Network Connection Issues
Network connection problems are generally extremely frustrating. one of the most efficient ways in which you can debug issues through cURL and proxies.
You can program your tests using cURL incorporating proxies. As a proxy acts as an intermediary between your network and your device they can be used to collect data from the proxy logs flagging fails.
Another option is to probe the connectivity of remote ports. For example, you can use this combination to check specific ports on a selected target programmatically. The proxy will obfuscate the IP address of your test traffic to prevent possible bans.
Validate SSL Certificates
SSL certificates serve a crucial role in ensuring that data is transferred between two servers securely. Validating the server's certificate you want to transact with is vital in confirming this security exists.
SSL certificate checks are conducted automatically when using cURL. However, there are several reasons as to why you would want these checks carried out behind a proxy. These largely relate to anonymity and security For example, it could be that you are stuck behind a corporate proxy and want to disguise the IP address.
Using proxies to carry out the certificate tests avoids security risks and errors when connecting to the server.
Stress Testing Your Web Applications
Ensuring that your web application functions correctly can be crucial to its long-term success. There are usually many possible points at which an application can fail, especially in the connections made between the front and back end of an app.
cURL and proxies combined are excellent to stress test your applications. They allow you to capture HTTP traffic flowing between the frontend and backend of your app. This data can then be analyzed and used to identify any possible failures or obvious weak spots to which further automation tests can be run.
The combination of cURL can be a very powerful tool for the many reasons we have discussed. Whether it is trying to circumvent geolocation restrictions, avoid IP bans, scrape data or conduct various forms of testing from apps to SSL certificates, by using them together you can overcome a huge number of problems.
In truth, proxies are an incredible weapon to have in your back pocket, whether you are a programmer or just looking to access a protected site without your originating IP address being flagged and banned. Because of the simplicity of cURL, it can be used by almost anyone to achieve their end goals, from simple connections to complex programming tasks.