Many users want to access websites that are geo-restricted in their Country. That website might not be available in their country or simply the Government restricted it due to some security reason. So, they use proxy servers to access that certain website. Proxy servers have gained popularity among users for two reasons: it’s an easy way to access blocked websites, and it’s free. Despite this seemingly generous service, the old adage rings true here; “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” As such, you may find free proxy servers aren’t as great as you imagined. To know why you shouldn’t use proxies, you first have to know how a proxy server works.
How Proxy Servers Work?
When you connect to a website it can see your IP address and the location you live. So, it automatically gets blocked if it’s restricted in your country. A proxy server acts as a gateway between you and the website you want to access. What proxy server does is that they assign the user to a new IP address of a country in which the website isn’t restricted. That way you can easily access the website without much hustle. For example, if a user lives in India and they want to access a website that is available in the US, they will simply connect to a proxy server that is based in the US, and tell it to visit the website. The website sees the location of the proxy server instead of the user, then the website gives the content to the proxy server which then will be shown to the user. And most importantly it’s free, so it’s an easy way to access the website without revealing your real internet address to the sites you visit.
There are many free proxies available on the web. They just ask you which website you want to visit and it will connect you to that website. But web proxies ain’t always safe as you may not know who is operating that proxy server, it may be a hacker or an intelligence agency. They can access your data through that proxy server and they can access your online activity. Because why would anyone give you free service if it’s not beneficial to them. It sounds too good to be true.
Why Free Proxy Services Are Not Secure?
To ensure the security that these free proxy servers provide security researcher Christian Haschek did a scan on some of the proxy servers. He revealed that the majority of these web proxies are not secure to use. Here are the reasons
- Lack Of HTTPS Connection: Christian Haschek has revealed in his article that 79% of those free proxy servers blocked encrypted HTTPS connections. HTTPS signals the web browser to use an added encryption layer known as SSL/TLS to protect web traffic. This means your connection to those servers is not encrypted which is a huge security problem. Because the data you are sending to those websites travels through those free proxy servers, so someone could easily extract your data like login details, credit card information, photos, and everything else. So it’s not a very secure way to access any website through free proxy servers.
- It Can Contain Malwares: Christian also wrote in his article that Only 17 of 199 (8.5%) of the proxies modified JS and most of them were to inject ads to the client. But two of them were just error messages or web filter warnings. 33 proxy servers (16.6%) were actively modifying static HTML pages and inject ads. And if you mistakenly click on those ads your computer will most likely be infected with dangerous malware viruses.
- Poor Service: Because the free proxy sites run with little financial backing, the service itself is subpar. The sites themselves are overused and subject to low connectivity. There is no twenty-four-hour support and inadequate access to help when or if needed. Individual proxies in other countries may be blocked or not working at all. There are much better alternatives to losing your information on identity theft and other black-market dealings.
So if you still feel like you have to use a free proxy server you should use one which has an encrypted HTTPS connection.
Alternatives Of a Free Proxy Server:
The best alternative to a free proxy server is to use a paid VPN(Virtual Private Network) connection.VPN gives you privacy and security while you are accessing a website, no one can access your user data or your personal information while you are online. So you can surf online without any worry. With VPN you can connect to a server anywhere in the world which will assign you to a new IP address so you can access the website even if it is restricted in your area.
Paid VPN services rely upon the money they earn from the users, so they are less likely to inject ads into your websites or extract any personal information from you. Moreover, they guarantee you security and privacy while you are browsing the web. Still, if you want to risk your privacy for a free proxy server just don’t submit any personal information when you are using it.