Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
SOCKS in green lettering on black background.

Short for Socket Secure, SOCKS is a network protocol for handling client to server requests and communications made through a proxy server.

Software using the SOCKS protocol creates a TCP (transmission control protocol) connection to an external server. Because the protocol doesn't interpret data in any way, it can be used through a firewall, making it convenient for large businesses and other institutions. As the firewall is still enabled, packets sent from the user's device to an external server remain secure.

SOCKS is beneficial because it is designed to route all types of traffic created by any program or protocol. Additionally, SOCKS5 (SOCKS protocol version 5) provides authentication so that only authorized users can access a server. It functions on Layer 5 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model and utilizes the TCP port 1080. SOCKS handles HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), HTTPS, POP3, SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol) and FTP request types.

SOCKS5 vs. HTTP proxy

When setting up an Internet proxy, you may notice many options. For instance, if you configure a proxy server through the Firefox web browser, you can choose between a standard HTTP(S) proxy and a SOCKS5 proxy. The key difference between the two is that an HTTP proxy can only interpret HTTP and HTTPS pages, whereas SOCKS5 can handle any traffic, including the previously mentioned types. In the end, know that HTTP and HTTPS proxies are faster with web traffic, and SOCKS5 proxies are more flexible and secure.

FTP, HTTP, Network socket, Network terms, POP3, Server, SMTP, Winsock