Proxy servers and proxy websites are designed to allow you to browse the Internet without disclosing your IP address. Proxy servers are especially popular because they allow users to browse websites that are blocked by their networks, such as at work or school. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using these proxy servers and proxy websites, both which must be considered before you begin.
Personal Information Risks
When you use a proxy server, your personal information is sent to that server or website, and the owner can capture all that information if they choose to, according to William Bellisle-Pio of Pio Technologies in Auburn, Washington. In other words, any information that you put in, such as your e-mail address, passwords, banking details and credit card information may all be at risk of being stolen by the owner of whatever proxy server you are using. If you do not know who actually owns the proxy server, do not conduct banking or buying transactions online through that server.
Some proxy sites are actually designed specifically to cause harm to their users. Through a proxy, you may encounter websites that look like your bank website or your email provider, but they are just dummy phishing Web pages that are designed to capture your information. You may be able to input your information, but then suddenly you cannot access the page. You may not be aware that your information has been stolen until it is too late to do anything about it.
Some websites specifically ban the IP addresses of proxy servers. What this means is that you are not going to be able to access certain websites when you are using a proxy server. This can be an great disadvantage.
Many proxy servers and proxy websites may still actually show your real IP address even though they claim not to, according to William Bellisle-Pio. It is a big risk to assume that your IP address is being hidden from whatever website you are currently browsing. Proxy servers very rarely if ever actually offer full anonymity to their users.
Spyware and Virus Risks
Many proxy servers and proxy websites force you to deal with pop-up advertisements, and they may also attempt to install malicious software like spyware and viruses on your computer while you are browsing the Internet. Spyware and adware programs are designed to capture your personal information and browsing patterns, so beware of what may be infecting your computer.
- William Bellisle-Pio; Pio Technologies; Auburn, Washington
- Photo Credit internet image by Jean-Michel POUGET from Fotolia.com