The internet today is as limitless as it is perilous. You can find out or purchase almost anything and reach out to almost anyone, yet it takes little more than opening a browser to put you in harm’s way. Proxies are one of the first tools experts recommend when it comes to minimizing your online footprint, but do they pose any risk?
This article explores the advantages and challenges associated with secure browsing via proxy. Once you read it, you’ll know why proxies are beneficial and how to use them more safely and confidently.
Do Proxies Benefit Your Online Security?
The right ones do, yes. A proxy’s greatest selling point for online privacy is its ability to obscure your IP address. Any request you make to access websites from the browser goes to a proxy server first. The server forwards the request using its IP instead of yours.
This comes with several benefits. No one, not even your ISP, is aware of which websites you’re visiting. The proxy prevents online tracking, be it by hackers or advertisers. The feature is especially useful if you want to avoid targeted ads that are becoming ever more pervasive. Some proxies also offer ad blockers, further insulating you from this nuisance.
Proxies also open up content you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access. For example, your favorite streaming service might not operate in the country you’re vacationing in. Or its catalog may be different. Proxies make this a non-issue if you connect to the service via a server from your country.
Users and companies’ cybersecurity may also benefit from proxies indirectly. Companies that conduct regular website cybersecurity scans depend on proxies to do their work unhindered. By rotating their IP addresses and choosing servers from various countries, such companies can continuously monitor the internet for threats and issue timely warnings.
Can Using Proxies Put You At Risk?
Yes, but only under certain circumstances. It’s easy to negate common risk factors by choosing an accredited and ethical proxy provider. Most problems usually happen due to using free proxy services, so avoid them for peace of mind.
Data theft is a genuine threat when dealing with unethical proxies. Users with a misguided sense of security will conduct transactions, expose their account details, etc., when using the service. Unethical proxies will collect such data and sell it, potentially compromising accounts and causing financial damage to their “clients.”
Another unscrupulous method is to mess with a website’s code. Since the proxy is a middleman between you and the internet, its owner can inject malicious code into a website before displaying it. That opens you up to Trojans, adware, and other threats,
While not directly related to cybersecurity, slow speeds are another proxy shortcoming. Routing all traffic through a server takes time and requires more bandwidth, so new content loads slower. Conversely, proxies can actually speed up loading times if they cache sites you access frequently.
Tips For Browsing Securely Through A Proxy
Far more good than bad can come from using a proxy, so don’t let the potential downsides discourage you! Follow these tips, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Choose the right proxy provider
Your user experience will depend entirely on a proxy’s quality, so choose wisely! Disregard free options for the most immediate security benefits and go from there. Your proxy provider of choice should have a proven record of excellence and reliability. They should be a transparent company, meaning you can find out everything from their employee structure to their physical address by visiting their website.
No online service can be available 100% of the time, but the higher the proxy’s uptime, the better. Speed and location diversity are also important, and a large dedicated proxy pool helps. You’ll want the proxy’s impact on browsing to be minimal, so servers in your area are a must for everyday use. Conversely, a wide selection of global locations is a given if you want to bypass restrictions.
Logging policy is another factor to consider. Some providers keep logs of your activities, while others ensure complete anonymity. If a provider does keep logs, ensure they have a transparent policy about keeping them and measures that guarantee their security.
Lastly, using the proxy should require an account. Rather than depend just on your IP address, the proxy should prompt you to enter a username and password for added security.
Follow general internet safety rules
Despite their advantages, proxies aren’t a substitute for common sense. For example, proxies can’t help if you fall for a phishing scam and click on a link that installs malware on your device.
Similarly, masking your IP address doesn’t mean the site you enter is automatically safe. Be sure to check that sites start with HTTPS before entering any sensitive information. This guarantees that any communication between you and the site gets encrypted.
Keep your operating system along with your antivirus and antimalware software updated. Don’t use the same or similar passwords for more than one account, and carefully consider any personal info you share with others online.
Proxies add a much-needed layer of anonymity and security to your online activities. But it’s also essential to choose the right providers, offering the best services according to your needs. Pick the right one, stay vigilant, and reap the rewards of more comfortable and secure browsing.