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Cyber Risk Management

The Risks and Dangers of Using a Free Proxy

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Online security has become increasingly crucial for users to protect their devices while connected to the internet. Hacking has become rampant with malicious individuals seeking to invade users’ privacy and using their personal and financial data to their advantage. For this reason, many users have opted to install proxies on their devices which is a great idea, and the best way to protect oneself. 

However, if you’ve been using a free proxy you may not be as safe as you think. Free proxies can do more damage than good, as they can further compromise your privacy and security and expose you to malware. In this article, we’ll explore the various factors surrounding free proxies and why you should buy residential IP addresses with a paid-for proxy at Smartproxy instead.

A comparison table that outlines the differences between free proxies and paid proxies:

Free ProxiesPaid Proxies (with Residential IP)
CostFreePaid
Security & PrivacyLimited, potentially harmfulHigh, with encryption and vetting
HTTP SupportOften lacks supportUsually supports HTTP
Traffic MonitoringPotential risk of monitoringNo monitoring
Risk of MalvertisingHighLow or None
Technical SupportMinimal or noneComprehensive support
Speed & ReliabilityCan be slow and unreliableFast and reliable
Proxy ChainsPossible risk of harmful chainsSafe proxy chains
User ReviewsMixed to negativeMostly positive

Why Would You Want to Get a Proxy in the First Place?

The answers to these questions are pretty simple. Let’s look at the three main reasons below. 

You’re Unsure Whether You Need It

Proxy servers provide a web filter and a firewall between shared network connections. They also cache your data to speed up common requests communicated across the internet. A paid-for proxy acts as your safety net and will ensure you get the highest level of security. For these reasons, you must invest in getting a paid-for proxy to buy residential IP addresses.

The main reasons that you may want to consider getting a proxy include:

  • Monitoring or restricting your children’s internet and browsing history to keep them safe.
  • Save on your bandwidth or increase your connection speed.
  • Keep your online activities more private.
  • Have added security to protect your online financial transactions.
  • Gain access to blocked international content.

Saving Money

Paid-for proxies can be expensive, and we’re all in the habit of wanting to save a dollar. However, you may not realize it, but the risk of getting a free proxy may cost you more in the long run since these proxies can act as a front for data mining activities and identity theft. Instead, invest to buy residential IP addresses with a paid-for proxy to ensure that all your browsing sessions are safe.

Lack of Technical Skills

Not all of us are IT specialists, and users want proxies that are easy to install and activate. You may think that you need a whole lot of technical know-how to get a paid-for proxy. In fact, paid-for proxies are as simple to install and activate as any of the available free versions. 

How Free Proxies Compromise Your Security and Privacy

As mentioned, a free proxy where you don’t buy residential IP addresses could expose you to malware and compromise your security and privacy. These significant risks may not be as apparent if you’re a regular user. Below are the top three risks you should be aware of when installing a free proxy.

No HTTP Support

A free proxy typically doesn’t offer HTTP support. This means that you’ll be connecting to a proxy server that doesn’t have encryption. When you connect without using encryption tools, hackers can access your private communications and steal your sensitive information.

Traffic Monitoring

A free proxy provider will most likely not have a security certificate since they cost money. It’s a sad fact, but some free proxy providers have malicious intent, and they’ll advertise their free service to users to monitor their online traffic. Being observed online places your sensitive data at risk.

Malvertising

Free proxy providers generate money for their services by embedding ads into content. Unfortunately, these providers usually don’t have restrictive policies in place, which could lead to malvertising. This nasty practice allows hackers to disguise ads that appear harmless, but they’re riddled with malware to access users’ sensitive information.

Tips to Identify Harmful Proxies

We recommend that you avoid free proxies at all costs. The risks just aren’t worth the apparent savings. However, there are other red flags that you can identify to avoid harmful proxies:

  • Research the provider – Check user reviews for data breaches, leaks, and suspicious activities.
  • Check for HTTP support and encryption protocols.
  • Explore the provider’s privacy policy – Check if the policy is transparent and whether they’ll store your logs or if your information will be shared with third parties.
  • Establish if there are proxy chains – Some proxies use proxy chains that use many proxies in succession. This may add an extra level of security. However, these chains may find malicious proxies along the way.

Best to Invest!

The bottom line is that your safety and privacy will be guaranteed when you buy residential IP addresses 100% vetted by a paid-for proxy provider. A provider such as Smartproxy has built a strong reputation in the security industry, offering dedicated support and accountability. By choosing a reputable provider, you’ll align yourself with a company that takes priority in its users’ security and privacy. 

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