VPNs Vs Proxies: Which Is The Best Option For Secure Web Surfing?
With the US government making it easier for internet service providers to sell their customer data to third parties, and with Net Neutrality under fire from the FCC, more internet users are looking to keep their online activities and communications private. But there’s more than one option for online privacy. Those looking to maintain their anonymity online might look at either a virtual private network (VPN) or a proxy. The two have essentially the same function, shielding your web surfing and allowing you to appear to be accessing the web from a different location, but they go about it in different ways. Let’s take a look at what a VPN actually is, what it does in comparison to a proxy, and which option you should choose for your web browsing.
What Is A VPN?
So what is a VPN? A virtual private network works effectively by creating a tunnel between a user and their device and a server that can be located anywhere in the world. This tunnel allows an internet user’s information to be secured: their online activities and communications are encrypted and unavailable to third parties, government actors, and internet service providers. They you’re your IP address and encrypt your communications, and have increased in popularity over the past several years. VPNs can be used on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and more.
What Is A Proxy?
Proxies reroute your online requests to another server before they reach their end destination, the website you want to visit. Proxies change your IP address like VPNs do, but typically they don’t offer the same kinds of security features. Proxies are far easier to spot than VPNs, and some websites attempt to block traffic coming from proxies.
Which Should You Choose?
Proxies are configured solely on application basis, not computer wide. They only hide your IP address, without encrypting your communications. They also don’t offer additional privacy considerations, such as eliminating certain identifying information from your transmissions like VPNs do. If you are looking to keep your online communications private, then VPNs are the way to go: they offer strong encryption without needing the same type of access to your hardware that proxies do.