So why do people waste so much time looking for a new proxy site constantly? Often the reason is that they’ve heard that free proxies will make them surf like a web ninja and be able to bypass all the blocks and filters that currently exist online. Alas both of these are very far from the truth.
The problem with these proxies is that firstly many of them are extremely insecure (lots are actually run by criminals who want to steal usernames and passwords), the other is that they are slow and unreliable simply because they’re overloaded and not configured correctly. Free proxies sound good, but nobody who know anything about the risks would ever use them.
But first of all it’s best to define what exactly is a proxy server. Often people have a completely false idea of what it entails.
In a practical context a proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary between a workstation and the internet. So instead of a request for a web page going directly to the site, the request first goes to the proxy server which downloads the web page and forwards it back to the client.
This has two main implications –
- The Web server has no record of the workstation’s IP address.
- The proxy server handles all web requests for the client.
These are the main reasons, proxies are used to enhance your online privacy. They effectively add a layer of anonymity to your web browsing ensuring the web site you visit has no record of your location.
So a New Proxy Site is Safer?
Unfortunately it’s not that clear cut and the main issue that many people forget is that in some senses you are actually adding a layer of risk to your browsing. The reason is that although your IP address is not logged on the web site you visit (which should only see the proxy) it is logged on the proxy server itself. In fact the proxy server potentially holds a complete and total list of your entire browsing history.
This is the reason that hackers and cyber criminals set up free proxies online and let anyone use them. It’s not some sense of free spirit or egalitarian ideals, it’s because the owner of a proxy is potentially able to intercept all the user’s web transactions. So they become a handy source of usernames, account details and passwords from the unsuspecting users of the proxy.
Of course not all the free proxies available online are run by hackers and thieves, some are just accidentally left open or occasionally even set up for no gain. These however soon get flooded with users and hence people find themselves locked into this constant search for the latest free proxies which have not yet been overloaded.
When a new proxy server initially appears online, it is pretty quickly well known and very well used – within hours it will be overloaded and too slow to use. Hence the search, if you find a proxy quickly you can get a few hours use of it. What’s worse the scourge of geo-targeting means that people will often need a server in a specific location, perhaps a US one or a German proxy site dependent on what they want to access and their current location. The bigger countries usually have lots of servers and options available but if you’re looking for something like a Polish proxy that can sometimes be a little more challenging.
The reality is now that basic proxies aren’t enough any more, even commercial ones. Many of the big media sites can detect the use of simple proxy sites. To stay secure and to bypass geotargeting on the BBC Iplayer, Hulu, Netflix and Youtube you need to include a level of encryption too. So you’d be best moving on from simple proxies with all their inherent risks and look at security products like Identity Cloaker which offer a secure VPN solution which keeps all your browsing private and encrypted whilst allowing access to all the world’s top media channels.