VPN vs. proxy: which is better to stay anonymous online?
11.11.2018 securityaffairs Safety
Most people prefer using proxies over VPN services because they are easy to use and mostly available for free, but can it be relied on for anonymity?
Now and then, we get to hear news about data breaches and cyber attacks. As such, it does not come as a surprise that people are becoming more and more concerned about their privacy on the Internet – and remaining anonymous is one of the best ways to protect it.
However, the question here is: which tool should you use to enhance your online anonymity? Most people prefer using proxies over VPNs because they are easy to use and mostly available for free, but can it be relied on for anonymity?
VPN vs. Proxy
Well, let’s take a closer look at both and find out:
What is a Proxy?
A proxy acts as a middleman between you and the Internet. All your requests are retrieved by a remote server or computer and then sent to your device. As a result, websites will only be able to see the proxy’s IP, and not your real IP address. This makes proxies ideal for small tasks like accessing blocked websites in your region.
However, since they do not encrypt your traffic and communications, your personal information can be easily accessed by an intruder. Typically, a proxy does not strip away identifying data from your transmissions beyond the usual IP swap, and there are no added privacy or security considerations built in either.
Therefore, anybody can snoop on your internet traffic, which means your far from anonymous when you use a proxy. Moreover, it needs to be configured separately for each application and this takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you are not much of a techie. You can only connect a single application with a proxy, so diverting your entire web usage is out of the question.
To Sum Up:
A proxy works fine when it comes to access unavailable websites, but it does not have the features to keep you safe and anonymous on the Internet. In addition, setting it up for each application that you use can be a headache.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network, aka VPN, makes it appear as if your internet traffic is originating from a different IP address and different location, rather than your original one. Although the idea of both proxy and VPN is similar, this is the only point of similarity between the two.
VPNs get deployed on the complete network connection of the device it is configured on, unlike a proxy server which primarily works as a middleman server for a single application (like your internet browser or BitTorrent application). Also, all your data is passed through a secure encrypted tunnel, making it unreadable to the outside world.
This makes a VPN association the best answer for any situation where privacy or security protection is the primary concern. With a VPN, third-parties cannot see what you are up to online, and neither can they place themselves in between your device and the VPN server.
Even if you’re currently on a business trip in the Atlantic, you can still benefit from using a VPN. With it enabled, you can use public Wi-Fi securely at coffee shops and other public places. Not only this, but you can also access your home or office network remotely in the safest way possible.
While there are hundreds of VPNs that claim to be the best, you must do your due research to find the best one for your needs. If you’re genuinely concerned about privacy and anonymity, the best VPNs in the market will not log your browsing activity, and come equipped with a plethora of premium features like kill switch, split tunneling, DNS leak protection, etc.
To Sum Up:
A VPN not only hides your IP address with that of the remote server you connect to, but also secures the internet traffic to and from your device for complete privacy and security. Additionally, setting up a VPN is very easy as many providers offer easy-to-use apps and software.
For anyone with long-term concerns about confidentiality, security and information protection, investment in a good VPN is unquestionably the best choice to be “anonymous.” However, it is important to mention that you cannot expect the same benefits when using a free VPN – you should always opt for reliable paid options!