Risks and Benefits of Using Anonymous Proxy Servers

Published: 30th March 2009
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What Are Anonymous Proxy Servers For?

For most people, there is no such thing as absolute privacy online. Whenever you use the Internet, you give away information about yourself everywhere you go. You see, whenever you log on, your ISP assigns you a unique number (which may or may not change every time) and this number is known to the websites, chat rooms and other services you use online. Your remote address can reveal information about yourself and your computer you might not suspect, such as your city, district, server and whoever is registered owner of your server. Additionally, if a website has a tracker or counter, they can also gather details about your computer, such as operating system, browser, screen resolution, keywords you used to find their site, and whether or not you've visited them before.

Benefits of an Anonymous Proxy Server

Fortunately, there are means to secure your privacy online. You can use what's called an anonymous proxy server. As the word "proxy" implies, a proxy server acts as a mediator between a client computer (such as yours) and another server (the site you want to access). All requests by the client are first sent to the proxy server, which forwards the request to the target server and then sends back the response to the client.

An anonymous proxy server takes this a step further by hiding information about the client so that the target server never sees it. Anonymous proxy servers are ideal if you want to surf the web while keeping your identity and location secret. Proxy servers in general can also accelerate browsing if they save data requested by users to a cache.

Types of Proxy Servers

Proxy servers may be classified according to the degree of anonymity they give. A non-anonymous proxy server is called a "transparent" proxy: it tells the server it's a proxy and gives your IP address too. A simple anonymous proxy server tells the target server it is a proxy, but hides client information. Another kind of anonymizer will admit it is a proxy, but gives a false client IP address. Finally a high-level anonymizer neither reveals it is a proxy, nor does it disclose any info about the client.

Risks of An Anonymous Proxy Server

How safe is an anonymous proxy server? Well, using a proxy server does have its share of risks. Because all your transactions will pass through the proxy first, you are taking a great risk if you transmit sensitive data. A malicious server owner can easily save clients' data and use it for their own ends. Even if the server owner itself means no harm, it is possible for third-parties to hack the server if it is improperly configured. Do not use an anonymous proxy server unless you really trust it. When you do use one, make sure data such as passwords and personal information are encrypted.

If you really want to enjoy the benefits of an anonymous proxy server, you might want to invest in a free-based proxy of this kind. Do your homework about the company's reputation and track record first. Above all, inform yourself the risks involved.Peter Garant has written many articles about Proxy Lists for a recently launched website about School Proxy servers. Visit Risks and Benefits of Using Anonymous Proxy Servers.

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