Why using a free proxy is never a good idea?
If regional restrictions have denied you access to a website, you have probably used a proxy server to bypass it. Although useful for bypassing these blocks, the security level of free proxy servers has much to be desired.
Let’s explore a few reasons why you should ignore free proxy servers.
What is a proxy server?
To understand why you should not use free proxy servers, we must first detail what they are and why people use them.
People use proxy servers when they want to hide their location. When you connect to a website, it can detect which country you come from via your IP address. If you connect to a site with regional restrictions and your country is not allowed to visit the website, it will prevent you from visiting it.
The key is to use an IP address from a country that is not blocked. The best way to do this is to “overlap” a computer or server located in a country on the white list. This way you can get around the restriction and visit the website. This is where proxy servers come in.
If a Canadian user wishes to visit a limited website in the United States, he can find a proxy server located in the United States and ask him to visit the website. The website sees the location of the server instead of that of the user, so it gives the proxy server its content. The proxy server then hands over the data it has received to the user.
Why are free servers bad?
There are many free proxy server sites on the Internet, each offering you a choice of country. All they ask is the address of the site you want to visit, and they will charge it. It sounds too good to be true, and most of the time it is!
Despite this seemingly generous service, the old adage sounds true here; “If you don’t pay for it, you are the product. As such, you may find that free proxy servers are not as efficient as you imagined. Here are five reasons why you should stay away.
1. Most free proxy servers do not use HTTPS
Christian Haschek did an analysis on some free proxy servers to see if they have passed the basic security tests. He discovered that 79% of them did not allow the HTTPS connection. It’s a huge security issue and something everyone should take to heart when using a free proxy server.
The absence of HTTPS means that your connection to the server is not encrypted. A person monitoring the connection could easily see the data you send as it passes over the network. This makes proxy services a very bad choice for anything that requires confidentiality, such as entering your connection information on a website.
If you want to protect your data, try our article on how to get Chrome to alert you when your connection is not secure.
2. He could monitor your connection
In his article, Haschek goes on to theorize that the reason that free proxy websites don’t like to use HTTPS is that they want to monitor you themselves. This is not a wacky theory, as hackers have configured proxy servers in the past for the same reason.
When you use a free proxy website, you are sure that the owners have configured it out of kindness and will not use it as a jar of honey to glean sensitive information. There is no way of knowing what the server owners have installed on their equipment to monitor you, so it is not worth playing!
3. A proxy server may contain malware that is malware
The server may not be the cleanest option for viruses and malware. By trusting your connection to a proxy server, you hope it will not abuse the connection to infect your PC
Worse, a free proxy owner can infect you by complete accident! Due to their free service, some owners rely on advertising revenues to keep the lights on. They will inject ads into the content they show you in the hope that you will click on it and that you will help pay for the server.
Unfortunately, some malware authors use advertisements as a vehicle for their programs and attack websites with lax advertising controls to view them. This is called malvertising, and you can learn more in our guide to malverting.
If the owners have not been diligent with the announcements they are broadcasting, they may accidentally show you announcements containing malware. They probably won’t even know it happens until your computer is infected!
4. He could steal cookies
When you connect to a server, your computer creates a small file called cookie. This stores your connection data, so you don’t have to log in every time you visit the site. This is normally a very useful feature, but when a proxy server is between you and the website, it is possible that server owners will steal cookies as they are created.
Once they have the connection cookies for your navigation session, they can use them to imitate you online. The damage they could cause depends on the sites you visited on the proxy server. If you have visited very sensitive sites, you may have a lot of problems!
5. The service is poor
After putting your privacy on the line and playing on a free proxy server, you will likely find that it was not worth it! The free powers of attorney found on the Internet are generally very slow, both due to the lack of funding and the fact that so many others use them.
With all the problems that free powers of attorney can cause, the service they provide is not up to the risks.
How can I protect myself?
If free proxy servers are a good example of “you get your money’s worth”, good VPN service is the opposite of that spectrum. By paying for a quality VPN, you can navigate anonymously without risking your information being stolen. You can find out more about how they work in our VPN connection guide
Just make sure you stay away from free VPNs, as they often have the same problems as free proxy servers!
Careful use of free proxy servers
If you really need to use a free web proxy, never submit any personal information about it. It is best to imagine a hacker reading every piece of information you send to a free proxy server. If it makes you uncomfortable to use the server, it’s best to stay away!
It is also a good idea to install browser extensions that protect against embezzlement. You can also install a renowned antivirus solution to stop any infection based on advertisements. We explained how to proceed in our article on protection against malicious advertising.
Protect your data
Free powers of attorney are a practical way to circumvent national restrictions on the Internet. The nonexistent price, however, means that owners of proxy servers feel more likely to take advantage of you and your contact details. If you can, always avoid using a free proxy server and use a VPN if you want consistent security.
If you like the sound of a VPN, why not read the best VPN selected by Reddit?