Surfing the internet anonymously
Sometimes you want to be able to use internet pages like Google anonymously and safely. You can use a proxy server to do this. The proxy server ensures that your personal IP address remains hidden during your internet session, because you use the IP address of another computer. This way of surfing the web seems safe, but is that also the case?
Risks of using proxy servers
To use a different IP address via the proxy server you have to make an important concession. You make your own IP address available to the proxy server in exchange for an anonymous IP address. This allows you to surf the internet anonymously, the websites you visit will not find out who you are. However, the proxy server itself can track all your actions on the internet. The proxy server is therefore actually a kind of intermediary. You can compare this with asking a friend to buy an ointment against foot fungus, because you don’t dare to do this yourself. The person behind the cash register will not know that the product you bought is actually intended for you. This makes it look as if you can make the purchase anonymously. However, your friend, synonymous with the proxy server, knows that you were the one who made the purchase and can tell others if he is asked to do so or if he sells this information to, for example, advertisers who would like to build up a database with people who use these products.
Safety at stake
Proxy servers may seem safe, but you never know who’s behind them. If you are unlucky, you may end up on a proxy server of criminals, who can take advantage of the information they have collected about your internet behaviour. When your data is passed through a proxy, this is often done unencrypted. These are http proxies, which means that your data is sent over the internet without encryption, and sensitive data can easily be intercepted and abused. This is particularly dangerous if you have logged in to your bank’s website, for example. Login data and passwords can easily be retrieved by the owner of the proxy server with bad intentions. But that’s not even the worst thing that can happen. A secure proxy server can also be hacked. The hacker can then sell your identity information to another party. They can also send viruses via the proxy server via pop-up advertisements during your internet session. By accidentally clicking on such a pop-up screen, you can retrieve these viruses, with all possible harmful consequences.
Safe anonymous surfing
Does this mean you’d better stay away from proxy servers? Not directly. There are many proxy servers available that are reliable. However, it is important to always keep an eye out, especially if you want to use a free proxy server. It is advisable to read online reviews of the proxy servers in order to make an estimate of the reliability of the proxy. Use at least ssl private proxies.