September 19, 2021

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Your Online Data: The Difference Between a VPN and Proxy

4 min read

Online information has become a talking point of the planet over the last few years, and there’s no denying that more and more people, including yourself, are becoming more educated when it comes to how the internet works and how your data should be protected from those with malicious intent.

After all, every password, birthday, personal detail, credit card number, bank balance, and payment detail is probably stored or saved on a computer server somewhere or on some website. It’s only common sense that you’ll want to keep this information safe.

There are two main ways to protect your browsing information; either using a VPN or a proxy. Proxies have been around for years, and VPNs are a more recent addition that are becoming incredibly within the mainstream. The question is, what’s the difference between the two?

Today, you find out.

What is a VPN?

A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is a piece of technology that hides your IP address. These are usually linked to servers that are found all over the world. You can set this location to be wherever you want, depending on the service you’re using, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of encryption these services use.

“Let’s say you’re sitting in a café and working. Someone else is monitoring the public free Wi-Fi hotspot offered by the café for people with no security. Instead of seeing your device listed as being connected, and therefore being able to read your traffic, they’ll instead see data coming from all over the world, from different servers, and no IP address,” explains Jason Nash, a blogger at Lia Help and Paper Fellows.

This means they won’t be able to do anything with your information because it won’t even be there, thus protecting you from dangerous hackers. Your data and internet traffic cannot be traced back to you.

VPNs are very easy to install and require next-to-no technical experience. Just sign up to a service of your choosing, install their servers, and click ‘go’. That’s really all there is to it.

What is a Proxy?

Alternatively, a proxy is a more lightweight version that helps you stay anonymous while browsing the internet. Just like a VPN, a proxy exists to hide your IP address when browsing and using the internet, especially when you’re browsing on private networks.

There doesn’t tend to be any downloads required, but you simply head over to a proxy website and browse the internet through their encrypted servers. If there are internet management tools and firewalls on your private networks, such as a blocking system that schools put on their computers to block websites from their students, these are great websites for getting around them.

“Proxy sites are mainly used in this way, overcoming geoblocks and avoiding censorship blocks your country may have imposed. With the rise of VPN networks and services, proxy services do seem to be falling by the wayside,” shares Samantha Harper, a tech writer at OXEssays and College Paper.

Whereas VPNs can be updated regularly against any changes that take place, such as overcoming VPN blocks countries may setup, proxies have a much harder time doing this since the proxy’s IP address can be simply be blocked. In many cases, this has meant proxies have had to stop using encryption, which means their services are unsecured, and anybody can see what’s going on via that connection.

That means if you’re using an unsecured proxy service and you put your bank account details into a website, anybody could be looking and recording your information and putting you at risk. Depending on what you’re up too, this could lead to massive legal repercussions.

The Bottom Line

While both VPNs and proxies will deliver similar results when it comes to browsing the internet anonymously and protecting your data, there’s no denying that VPNs are redefining the industry and will be the future of internet browsing security.

Whether you’re working from home, at work, at school, or running your own business, internet security is an important consideration you need to be thinking about. Nobody wants to get caught up in a situation where their data has been stolen, so don’t let it happen to you!

Katherine Rundell is a computer and internet security writer and editor at Assignment Writer and Write My Paper. She helps people understand the complexities of modern data protection and privacy. Also, she is a writer at Custom Essays.

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