COMPARING PROXIES & MOBILE PROXIES FOR OSINT
Proxies have been around for a long time. They can be slow and are liable to detection just like a regular VPN connection.
From a vendor, a Proxy can be procured just like a VPN connection. These Proxies are hosted in a data center, usually on a dedicated Virtual Machine. They will be detected as a VPN and might have all the same compromising issues already discussed.
Alternatively, a Proxy might be deployed on a server in your organisation. Most likely, this will expose your organisation. For OSINT investigation purposes, a local Proxy should not be deployed.
Mobile Proxies are different. They behave much like a VPN, providing the same anonymity and non-attribution as a VPN, and our extensive testing of some vendors indicates no blocking. When looking back at the account, it appears to be a domestic mobile connection, but the account is not connected to any personally identifiable information about the user.
Early Mobile Proxies had a poor reputation for being very slow. The advent of 4G began to change that, and now, with 5G Mobile Proxies, the speed capability is much like, and can be better than, a good VPN connection.
At a basic level, Mobile proxies work like a VPN, as an internet gateway. All requests to the network will pass through the gateway provided by mobile (cell) operator. The Mobile Proxy vendor will have procured a batch of mobile connections with a large pool of IP addresses, from one or more cellular operators. The IP address that displays to the accessed internet resource, is that of the Mobile Proxy connection. It is just like accessing the internet with a mobile device. Except that the mobile connection is not reverse attributable to the user.
Just like a VPN, the quantity of available connections in multiple jurisdictions varies depending the vendor. Unlike a VPN each connection will have access to a pool of addresses. The size of the pool depends on the cellular mobile network vendor (eg Vodafone, O2, 3 and EE) and the arrangement between the Mobile Proxy vendor and the cellular network vendor.
Like a VPN, when you connect with a Mobile Proxy, the IP address might be shared with other users of the service. However, the more reputable Mobile Proxy vendors will provide you with a dedicated connection. This means it is restricted to only you. Other users of the service cannot use that same Mobile Proxy connection.
From the promotional information provided by a vendor and even within their terms an conditions, it might not be apparent that the connection is shared. Even the reputable Mobile Proxy vendors, that provide you with a dedicated account, might not explicitly state that the connection is dedicated.This is where the knowledge we have acquired, from talking to Mobile Proxy vendors and testing their services, can be useful.
One thing to watch for, many vendors might provide only a few Mobile Proxy connections. Their other connections, and this might be the majority of their connections, will be regular Proxies. The problem with regular proxies is that almost always, they are detected as VPN connections.
The OSINT practitioner deploys a VPN or a Mobile Proxy connection to have an non-attributable connection to the internet. The big take-away for a Mobile Proxy connection is that to someone looking back at you, including Social Media platform owners, is that a good quality Mobile Proxy connection will look just like a regular domestic mobile connection. Unlike a VPN connection, the public IP address will change frequently, just like it does with our personal mobile connections.
Consider making the non-attributable connection even stronger by setting the browser extension agent switcher to mobile and assigning one Mobile Proxy connection to one Synthetic Identity. This way, multiple practitioners using the same Synthetic Identity can use the same Mobile Proxy.
We are testing the same Mobile Proxy connection with more than one Synthetic Identity. If Social Media platforms detect multiple use and the Synthetic Identity social media accounts are compromised, we will let you know. Sign-up to our OSINT Newsletter for updates.
Mobile Proxy Capabilities
A non-attributable connection
Appearance of a mobile phone connection
Assign to a Synthetic Identity
Share the Synthetic Identity & the mobile proxy connection with other investigators on your team