The battle for cybersecurity and combatting hackers has no end in sight. As quickly as a new tool is invented to bolster your online security, people find ways around it. Proxies are the opposite – a tool commonly used by hackers that you can also use for online protection.
Cybercrime costs businesses $1.7 million per minute while consumers who are victims of online crime incur costs of $318 billion each year.
How can proxies help protect you and your employer or business from these costs?
We’re going to give you the full lowdown on proxies, covering:
- How a proxy works
- The different types of proxies
- Five ways a proxy will improve your cyber security
So you can make sure your online arsenal of protection tools is fully up to date and functioning.
What is a proxy and how does it work?
A proxy funnels your internet use through another computer before it gets to the internet, adding a layer of protection to your browsing.
Without a proxy, your computer or phone sends a request to the internet through your own IP address and the information goes directly back to you – malware and viruses included.
Adding a proxy puts another IP address between you and the “big bad” internet. You send your request to the proxy, which then gets the information on the internet, does some checks on it if you ask it to, then delivers it to your computer.
What are the benefits of using a proxy?
When you use a proxy, you get:
- Increased security with anonymous browsing
- Lower bandwidth use if your network has lots of traffic to the same few websites
- A hidden location, so you can get around geo-blocking
- The ability to filter the information coming into your network
However, there are some drawbacks that are worth being aware of:
- Some proxy servers can cache – or temporarily store – a lot of your data and so are vulnerable to hacks
- Not all networks are compatible with all proxy setups
- Your connection speed will be a little slower with an extra step added to browsing the internet
What are the different types of proxies?
Proxies can serve a few different purposes, so you need to choose the right one according to the job you want to get done. Here are two of the most common proxies you might come across.
- Data center proxies direct your traffic through a data center and are independent of your internet service provider (ISP). They tend to be fast and rarely have downtime but you’re sharing the IP with other people who could be doing negative things that get the proxy address – and your browsing – blocked from some sites.
- Residential proxies give you a dedicated IP address through your ISP. Your browsing will appear on websites like a real user but your connection will feel a little slower.
There are other types of proxies that are defined by their technicalities like how your data is analyzed and stored – but these two are the main choice you’ll need to make as a consumer.
Five ways proxies help fight cybercrime
- They protect data
Your IP address can be as important as your home address when it comes to sensitive information. This information can be tracked and stored by websites, sometimes for reasons you don’t need to be concerned about and sometimes to start to steal your identity.
By using a proxy, your real IP address can’t be seen by the websites you browse. This means they won’t know what state or country you’re in, keeping your personal information secure.
Credit card details are also protected by proxies, but due to advances in card payment standards, it’s generally up to the website you’re buying through to have proxies and other security in place nowadays.
- They protect businesses
Having a proxy server set up for your business is important, even if the company you own or work for is pretty small.
Proxies will help prevent people from accessing your internal network without permission. What’s more, it anonymizes the computers that are accessing your network, meaning computers and people can’t become targets of hackers.
A proxy as network protection works well to an extent, but you should invest in other layers of protection, like a reliable VPN which covers all traffic going through devices, not just from a specific browser or app. To make sure your business has all the security tools it needs, you can get Surfshark VPN and get started.
- They create firewalls
You’ve probably heard of a firewall before, even if you don’t know the technicalities of how they work. Simply put, a proxy can check the information being sent back to you from the internet and make sure it’s safe.
This barrier the proxy forms can detect online nasties like malware and ransomware trying to get into your computer. This type of software can put trackers on your computer to start to steal your passwords or card numbers or even encrypt all your data until you pay a ransom.
Sounds pretty scary, right? Proxies can be easy to set up and worth the time to get extra protection from these issues.
- They stop phishing attacks
Phishing attacks cost people a total of $54 million, which may not seem like a lot when billions are lost each year to cybercrime – but that’s millions of people losing significant money.
Phishing – where people try and get you to tell them your online security information through email or fake websites – can be prevented by checking the email content as part of inbound traffic checks.
You might not really notice this benefit of a proxy, but it’s definitely going to help filter out some of the more harmful scams that could land in your inbox.
- They prevent DDoS attacks
As a private citizen, you’re unlikely to be the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, but it’s worth knowing how proxies prevent them in case it helps you at work.
A DDoS attack is where a website gets hammered with way more requests than it can normally take, and then crashes. A proxy can help a website store its data across different nodes of the internet through a content delivery network (CDN).
This type of proxy setup ensures there are multiple versions of a website on different servers so it’s much less likely that the site can crash.
Do proxies prevent cybercrime?
Proxies can be used as part of a well-rounded strategy to prevent cyber attacks on your home or work computer.
You get privacy benefits and the ability to screen incoming website traffic, as well. Remember to complete your online security setup with tools like a VPN, virus scanning tools, and 2-factor authentication.