A proxy is an intermediary between the user and the internet. The user accesses the data stored in the various servers through the proxy, which acts as a middleman. Proxies enable us to access the web without being directly connected to it.
People often think that proxies and VPNs are similar, but this isn’t true. While they may perform similar functions, the two are separate technologies and work very differently.
What Is a Proxy?
A proxy is a gateway between a computer and the world wide web. To connect to the internet, the client makes a request, and the proxy receives and forwards it as its own. It then gets the response and returns it to the client’s PC. While using proxies does have its advantages, there are some downsides.
Advantages of Proxies
First, let’s understand why proxies are such a big deal. They’re practical not just for big corporations but for people like you and me.
Proxies keep your IP address, location, and other personal information private. They forward all your requests using their credentials by masking your IP. Hackers or websites cannot track your data as the proxy works as an identification shield and hides your details, protecting your anonymity and privacy.
- Online Security and Protection
Today, there is an ever-increasing chance of coming across malicious sites while you browse the web. Connecting directly to the internet puts your device at risk and increases your network’s vulnerability. Any malware on these websites can access your system directly, causing untold damage.
Without a proxy, hackers also can directly access your IP, system, and personal information. You’ll want a device working as a gatekeeper as it faces these threats on your behalf, safeguarding your system.
- Unrestricted Access
Some websites limit access to their platforms and content according to geographical regions. It’s usually due to copyright restrictions and national or regional laws. Internet servers identify the area you’re in using the location given by your IP address. A proxy service will enable you to bypass these restrictions by masking your IP and replacing it with one from a non-restricted region.
- Improved Performance
Most proxy services have data caching features. They store all the relevant information about your online activity in the cache memory. Caching allows the proxy to quickly open a previously-visited page as it doesn’t have to prompt for site data a second time.
- Content Control
Just as proxies are able to bypass website blocks, they can also restrict access to specific platforms and sites. Organizations and parents may use this function to limit access to age-sensitive content or time-wasting websites.
Disadvantages of Proxies
Proxies are highly beneficial, especially if used correctly. However, they do still come with some cons.
Unfortunately, the cache data held by proxies may contain personal data like credit card and password information. While your data is safe from external threats, it may be vulnerable to rogue parties who sell or misuse this information. Always use legitimate and reputable tools such as IPRoyal proxies. Never use a free proxy service.
Proxies are excellent at online anonymity but aren’t so good at encryption. Most of them only use SSL encryption on data. Unfortunately, this isn’t secure enough to prevent attacks today. SSL encryption is quite vulnerable to stripping, meaning your data passing through the server may be less safe.
Proxies may be incompatible with your local network. Your network and the proxy servers each have different configurations. It means you may need to configure your network to be compatible with specific proxies or look for a proxy whose settings completely match your own.
Assembling, installing, and maintaining proxy servers are expensive. While larger organizations can bear the costs, it’s not feasible for smaller businesses and individuals. Fortunately, some trustworthy and reliable service providers allow you to use their proxy servers at an affordable price.
Proxies are configured to fulfill a specific goal. Coding is needed to customize them for different purposes, which requires specialized knowledge. Additionally, they must be set up perfectly to ensure there are no ports left open that hackers and malware can exploit.
Despite their drawbacks, proxies are a reliable way of keeping yourself secure while surfing the web. They are an effective shield against most online threats and viable internet security options. When in doubt, a reputable and trustworthy proxy service provider will offer you online anonymity and security.