The Internet is awash with botnets and ransomware, all designed to compromise your privacy and security. It therefore makes perfect sense to take precautionary measures so as to stay safe anytime you’re online. That is where virtual private networks and proxies come into the picture. But what do they do? How are they different from each other?
The Definition of Proxies and VPNs
Both proxies and VPNs enable a higher degree of privacy. That is, they allow users to access the internet anonymously by hiding their IP addresses. To that extent, proxies and VPNs are similar. When it comes to how they achieve the objective however, some key differences emerge.
A proxy is designed to act as a gateway. It is suitable for basic functions like circumventing content restrictions and anonymous web browsing. The concept behind how they work is simple. They simply mask and misdirect one’s IP address. A proxy steps in as a go-between from one’s personal computer to a target server. In other words, they will return a particular web page without forwarding your initial request to the Internet. In addition, it may just seem like you are directly accessing a web page as per normal..
This makes proxies ideal for viewing and accessing geographically limited content. Some countries, organizations, schools, etc., enforce website content restrictions so that one cannot log in to certain web pages.
A VPN uses a different concept. It establishes a secure tunnel with a VPN server by replacing one’s local IPN routing. Unlike proxy servers, VPN connections encrypt and secure network traffic. They also secure and encrypt SOCKS and HTTP calls from the browser. This makes VPNs ideal when one needs to use Wi-Fi at the airport or at a local coffee joint. It is a perfect alternative to the completely unencrypted local Wi-Fi, which poses a security threat to unsuspecting users.
Understanding Their Drawbacks
There are of course, a few drawbacks that come along with VPNs and proxies. It is worth noting that most, if not all drawbacks that come along with them are manageable. Most have a lot to do with performance issues which can prevent one from either streaming or downloading content. Traffic and high ping times can also cause web pages to load slowly. Fortunately, all these drawbacks have a solution. You can pay for a private proxy server which allows a specific number of users to access it. This speeds up connectivity and guarantees privacy as well as security.
Understanding Their Benefits
Both proxies and VPNs guarantee security and privacy. VPN guarantees total traffic encryption. The same can be said about proxies which mask one’s internet activities. Both can also guarantee protection from malware and other attacks that can ultimately compromise security and privacy. Keep in mind that the two can also be used at home and at the workplace.
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