A Guide for Setting Up a Secure Proxy
With easy access to the internet, over half of the world’s population are already active online. United States ranks third based on the number of internet users as of March 2019. However, not all is well in the digital world because users leave their digital footprint online. Connections to the internet (the global wide area network) can be tracked and observed with the right technology. No wonder, more organizations are diligent in controlling internet access. Some people may initially just want to unblock websites like Youtube or Facebook but they would eventually be interested in setting up a secure proxy.
Basically, a proxy has been described as an intermediate or bridge through which information travel from a website to the user’s system. Check out some of the reasons why individuals and organizations use proxy servers:
- to resolve incompatibility between the user’s system and the target website’s system
- to support multiple access to the internet through one internet connection
- for faster browsing if the server saves information about previously visited websites
- for hiding the IP address of the user to allow anonymous browsing
- to bypass security restrictions or filters that block access to sites
- to control internet access and check outbound content
Can I Use Any Proxy Server?
Proxy servers are not created equal. Take note that functions or features above are not offered by all proxies. It is important to carefully check if your proxy has what it takes for the purposes you have in mind. Here are some factors to consider before setting up a secure proxy:
Private vs public proxy servers
A private proxy is used only by one person while a public proxy is available by everyone. Naturally, public proxy servers attract more users because they are usually free. However, the quality of service may be lower and they may also be unsafe. Operators are more likely monitoring web traffic and who knows when somebody would attempt to take over your network.
HTTP vs HTTPS vs SOCKS
Proxies also differ by protocol, each providing different services:
- HTTP proxy sends requests from the user, through a web browser, to the Internet. It may also support caching of internet data.
- HTTPS proxy, a more secure version of HTTP, is basically designed to provide better security layer over the unsecured HTTP protocol. It is recommended for handling sensitive information and transactions.
- SOCKS is an HTTPS-compatible protocol that can handle more kinds of internet traffic but it is slower.
Free vs Paid Proxy
Free proxy services are available to anyone, anytime, but the quality of service is likely to be inferior compared to paid proxies. The influx of users taking advantage of free service is likely to compromise security. Another concern is poor configuration that could make it vulnerable to attacks. Paid services private proxy servers or shared proxy servers are known to meet user expectations for speed and anonymity.
In summary, finding and setting up a secure proxy can be quite challenging. You have to assess the level of anonymity you want, your budget, need for speed. and purpose when going online (for example: do you only need to unblock websites?). The important thing is that you are willing to exercise due diligence before you go online using a proxy on a regular basis.