Is Proxy a Secure Path for Your Communication?
Increased use of public network, Internet censorship, government spying and geo-restrictions - these are the main factors that contribute to the popularity of proxy services.
Before using proxy you may have questioned about the difference between free and paid services, proxy and VPN, as well as an overall safety of using it. The main goal of proxy and more advanced VPN tool is to provide the complete anonymity for the user. It is expected that the whole browsing process will be private and protected, especially when it comes to paid services.
The real crunch is that such claims have been recently refuted by the group of researchers from the Sapienza University (Rome) and Queen Mary University (London), that have tested 14 the most popular commercial VPN services. 10 out of 14 turned out to leak IP data and all except one were vulnerable to IPv6 DNS hijacking attacks. So the question is, can we look for privacy when the VPN is turned on?
Is VPN an Alternative to Proxy?
As explained in various sources it is a common mistake to equalize these services. Let’s see the difference. Proxy creates a virtual bridge between the user and Internet, it masks any traffic coming from your computer and allows to connect through anonymous IP address. Proxy is useful when using WiFi or bypassing censorship restrictions. However the weak point of proxies is inability to use encryption to secure all traffic that goes through them, thus there is a risk to become a victim of identity theft.
On the other hand VPN gives a high level encryption, does not slow down the Internet and gives you the access to any website worldwide.
According to the above mentioned research a VPN may be viable choice if a user wishes to hide his IP address and no more. The rest contradicts the results that were received by the researchers.
There are many ways how the user’s confidentiality can be compromised i.e. malicious VPN service provider, that can ask for personal information during registration as well as VPN with low-level security that does not prevent IPv6 leakage.
Free or Paid?
The evaluation of commercial VPN services showed me that there is a large part of misleading information that goes far away from actual facts. People who use such services think themselves to be anonymous, which in most cases is not true. Whether it is free or paid service there is always a possibility of data leakage. The only considerable difference is that paid services in addition to basic security options offer benefits such as customer support, larger quantity of servers and IP addresses, as well as server statistics.
So what options do we have in order to make our online experience private? No one can give a certain answer so far, as there is no guarantee for complete security online. Carefully choose which company to entrust your privacy, and do not forget about general rules of online behaviour and safe browsing.