Online privacy is vital, now more than ever before. At one point or another, you will probably use some online privacy service. Typically, safety and confidentiality are based on trust. For instance, would you let someone shady or someone you don’t trust to guard your property or house? I bet, not at all. The same should apply to proxies. Proxies are mainly used in web scraping, they are safe and don’t pose any security danger on their own. However, the providers behind these proxy servers could be malicious and pose some threat to your online privacy and security. Some of the free proxies you see online are actually dangerous to use and that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article.

I will only raise one question; do you trust your proxy provider? If that question is hard to answer, you should reconsider things. If you have been using free proxy servers, your information could be in the wrong hands as we speak. How does that make you feel? Well, don’t worry, by the end of this text, you will have a better alternative.

Before we discuss free proxies, we first need to understand what a proxy server is.

What Is a Proxy Server?

A proxy server or, to put it shortly, a proxy is a server that acts as an intermediary between a remote server and a client. In other words, the server will process all the requests made by the client on behalf of the client’s computer/device.

Some of the common proxy types include residential and data center proxies. A residential proxy is simply an IP address that has been assigned to a given device by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). It is usually associated with a particular location. These proxies provide high levels of anonymous browsing and are difficult to block for websites.

Data center proxies, on the other hand, are IP addresses that are not in any way connected to any Internet Service Provider (ISP). Many of these proxies originate from secondary corporations. Just as residential proxies, data center proxies are also ideal for IP address masking, although they are easier to block if you’re planning to harvest data. If you’d like to learn more about proxies, check out this blog article about What is a Proxy at Oxylabs.

Why You Should Never Use Free Proxies

Many proxy users continue to use free proxies without noticing the dangers these proxies pose.  So, are free proxies safe? The best answer I can give to this question is that free proxies are NOT secure! Let’s find out why.

●      Most Free Proxies Use HTTP Instead of the Recommended HTTPS

According to a study that was conducted in 2015 by Christian Haschek, 79% of free proxies didn’t use HTTPS. Meanwhile, HTTP doesn’t offer data encryption. HTTPS encodes data that has been sent to the proxy, assisted by an SSL certificate. A proxy that uses HTTP will hold the personal information you have unintentionally given out.

Unencrypted (HTTP) traffic will leave an opening for hackers to access sensitive data and information, including passwords and credit card details.  In fact, some of the free proxy providers are hackers themselves and will lure you by providing a “free” proxy server. Your online behavior can also be determined and then sold to advertising companies who will filter data and generate personalized ads according to your profile.

●      Malware Infection Threats

Your computer/device risks a malware attack every time you use a free proxy. Some links or ads might be engineered with some virus that will be deployed in your computer when you click them. Whether you have done it intentionally or unknowingly, you have to suffer the consequences. Some virus will not only affect your computer but also affect your network.

●      Cookie Theft

It is possible to change static HTML and inject adware and other malicious scripts to traffic routed via a proxy server. Although it may sound ridiculous to someone less acquainted with tech jargon, free proxies can be used by hackers to steal cookies. When this happens, the hacker will be able to access all your login credentials and any other vital information that your browser can remember, which is no laughing matter.

●      Free Proxies Are Slow

Many free proxies are very slow. If you are someone who hates slow internet speeds, don’t even think about using free proxies. Anyone can access free proxies at any given time. Many companies that are very much interested in protecting their sites from anonymizers have already flagged/blacklisted many of these available public servers. A good example is Netflix. Many free proxies won’t work and therefore, are useless.

What Next Now?

Now that you know that free proxy services are not the best, to put it mildly, what do you need to remain anonymous online? Well, it’s simple. Make sure that every time you browse the internet, you use a paid premium proxy server. Drop free services completely! Paid proxies will provide you the much-needed anonymity that you desire.

Free can actually be very expensive at times, and your security should always come first. With paid proxy services, you don’t have to worry about hackers and online security in general – you are all protected! You will also enjoy fast speeds and little to no downtime.

Free proxies are not the best to use when you require online anonymity. For high levels of security and data encryption, always use a paid premium proxy service. You will always find a trusted proxy provider by checking social media, Trust Pilot, and other reviews.