The world is at our fingertips, literally and figuratively. The advent of the internet and connected devices have truly brought about a significant change in life as we know it. We have reached a point where we cannot envison our lives without our smart devices or our phones. Have you ever sat and wondered how secure your connection to the internet is? Generally, we are not too concerned about our connection unless we are doing our banking. You may have already heard that you are discouraged from banking over free Wi-Fi.
Public networks pose a danger to your online security. So much could go wrong. You may be a victim of session hijacking, have your credentials stolen, or get a virus, worm, or malware. The list of possible risks on a public network is quite alarming.
However, there exist ways you can ensure that you do not fall victim to hackers and scammers during your online session. You can use secure search engines, get the latest antivirus, and dedicated residential proxies, clear your cache and cookies after sessions, and turn off the saved passwords feature.
World organisations are making laws to ensure it is collected, stored, and used responsibly. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation GDPR is an example of the effort being made.
However, even with policies in place, you are still responsible for your data. One of the best ways to protect your data is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy server.
You may have seen an advertisement for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy server and dismissed it. Perhaps you may even be aware of their use but need more information before making your purchase. We shall look at all you need to know about Proxies and VPNs.
What are Proxies and VPNs
Before we delve into what proxies and VPNs are, you should be aware of how you browse the internet without them. You access the internet through an internet service provider on your computer or mobile phone. Your connection can be direct or through your router.
Your internet service provider( ISP) then handles the requests from the IP address to the web servers during your session. A proxy server is a remote public server that acts as a gateway between your computer and the internet. This means that your computer relies on the proxy server to make requests on the internet.
Since the proxy server acts as a middleman, your IP address is safe because the proxy server protects your IP. There are several types of proxies available in the market. Some include residential proxies, data centre proxies, and transparent proxies. HTTP proxies and SOCK proxies.
You should pick your proxy server based on the intended use. Your home is a hub of activity with a multitude of devices connected to your wifi. You use the internet, your partner does, and your kids do as well. On top of it many of your appliances and wearables are connected to the internet. The risk of your data being exposed to the world wide web and falling in the wrong hands is heightened because of these reasons. You should consider using a residential proxy to help you mitigate these risks. A dedicated residential proxy secures your home and data against possible leaks and misappropriation of sensitive data.
A Virtual Private Network is similar to a proxy server. A VPN also routes your data through a secure server and does more by encrypting all your traffic. Therefore no party can monitor your internet use or see the details of your activities.
Differences between VPNs and Proxies
Most proxies do not encrypt the data passing through them. They only protect your IP address, therefore the government and any interested party can log the activity. However, it will not be under your IP address.
VPNs encrypt your data so that it is unreadable to third parties because they do not have your encryption key. If you need that extra level of security, consider getting a VPN or a proxy server with data encryption.
There is a notable difference in the pricing of proxies and VPNs. There are several free proxy servers online, but they are not reliable. If you want a reliable proxy server, you will have to pay for it. Some subscriptions start from as low as $2.99. per month.
VPNs on the other hand, are known for being pricier. You may have come across advertisements from some of the major companies like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Their subscription goes for about $12 monthly.
There are free VPNs on the market, but they are not as secure. Paid VPNs perform data encryption, whereas free VPNs do not encrypt your data. Free VPNs only rely on the point-to-point tunnelling protocol (PTTP).
- Layer of Operation
Proxies operate at the application level while VPNs work at the operating system level. Therefore, you need to configure a proxy for every browser or application you use. When using a VPN, all your traffic is routed to a remote server, so you do not need to change or configure every application.
- Connection Speeds
If you are using a free proxy server, you will experience slow-speed internet. Free proxies have a lot of traffic and therefore users have limited bandwidth. This can lead to slow internet speeds. Paid proxies and VPNs perform better. Unless you are a gamer, you may not notice the difference in latency.
- Security and Anonymity
You can use VPNs and proxy servers to ensure that your data is protected from any party that may be tracking you online. You can browse the internet anonymously since the two mask your IP address. You will also benefit from the additional security of data encryption.
- Access to Geo-restricted Content
Another benefit of VPNs and proxies is they can give you access to geo-restricted content. Some content may be unavailable in some countries because of copyright laws or government policies. However, since you can connect to a server anywhere in the world, you can access this content in your region.
- Network Control
Proxies give you more control over your network traffic flow. You can use different proxy servers for specific purposes. For example, you can use a transparent proxy to limit access to certain websites in an organisation. Some proxies limit connection to a network, and some redirect traffic and load balance servers.
Your personal information is valuable today, and multiple entities are tracking your online captivity for their benefit. The entities include businesses, hackers, and your government. You should take charge of your security online and get a residential proxy or VPN.
Proxies and VPNs offer you a layer of security by hiding your IP address and handling requests for you. Do not forget to research the best proxy or VPN for the task you require before making a purchase.