Protecting Your Online Privacy: What is a Proxy?TECH
If your primary goal is to increase your anonymity on the Internet so that you can browse more freely without your Internet Service Provider tracking and using your data, a Proxy is a low-cost solution that may be right for you.
In most cases, you can use either a free Proxy server (not recommended) or pay for a monthly service that will allow you to surf the web in relative anonymity. Like VPN, Proxies have their own pros and cons, and you should carefully consider your needs and goals before using one.
What is a Proxy
A Proxy Server or “Application-Level Gateway” is a computer server that intercepts the connections between your computer and Internet servers and redirects that data out through its own servers. This then allows the outbound server to see all of your searches as coming from the proxy and not from your own computer.
For example, if you were to shine a light on a mirror and reflect that from another mirror, you wouldn’t know which mirror it is coming from unless you could see the original light source. Proxies protect your privacy, because they hide your original IP address or location from websites and servers.
VPN services work in a similar way, but by providing end-to-end encryption.
Caching Proxy – In some cases, a web proxy may work to improve your privacy by preventing live access to a site in the first place. In this case, the proxy will look for a cached version of the website or request one and then show you a static version of the site that does not require connecting to the original servers. This adds additional protection to your web usage, but can slow your Internet and can provide you with a less dynamic Internet experience.
Are Proxies Legit? – Most proxy services are fully legit. However, you should seek out a reputable company with strong privacy policies before using one. Proxy technology is also legitimate. Many companies and networks use them to monitor outbound traffic from local networks, to add security, and to improve the performance of a server by routing all computer interactions through one place. Proxies also add security by making it more difficult for hackers to find the original location and to find internal addresses, which is helpful as well.
Pros of Using a Proxy
- Proxies are low-cost
- Proxies hide your IP address without much technical knowledge
- Most proxies add additional security
- Your proxy may work as part of your firewall
Cons of Using a Proxy
- Slowed Internet
- Not all websites will allow you access using a proxy
- Your proxy company will have access to all of your data
- Proxies are easy to trace back to the original source should someone know you are using one. However, most will not, which does provide the basic level of privacy protection you will need to prevent advertisers from using your data.
Proxies are an excellent solution if you want to protect your privacy online but don’t need more expensive solutions. You can choose free options or pay for a monthly subscription, but the choice is up to you.