What are proxy servers and how are they different from VPNs?

Using a proxy server, you can mask your IP address and fake your location. This means that it can be used as a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions and firewalls. However, unlike a VPN, most proxy servers do not encrypt your Internet traffic, leaving you vulnerable to ISP, government, and hacker surveillance.

Proxy servers have some advantages, so they are preferable in certain situations. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the similarities and differences between proxy servers and VPNs so you can make a more informed decision.

What are proxy servers?

If you enter a URL or click on a link to a web site, your ISP will send a request and connect you to this web site. Your IP address must be specified for this.

When using a proxy, connect to an intermediary server, which is essentially just a separate computer with an Internet connection. Your traffic passes through this server on the way to its final destination (the website you want to visit). This means that your online requests will be redirected and your real IP address will be masked.

Proxy servers are most commonly used to mask the user’s actual location. This is useful for accessing sites that block content by end-user location. These include TV and movie streaming services, sports streaming services, gaming sites, and online gambling services. Although many websites closely monitor the use of proxies, proxy errors like these are common:

You can also use a proxy to bypass firewalls as required by offices, schools, and libraries. Often there are firewalls to restrict access to sites like Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube.Some proxies can even bypass government firewalls, such as China’s “Great Firewall.”

The main difference between proxy servers and VPNs: encryption

The main difference between proxy servers and VPNs is encryption. A VPN such as RitaVPN or NordVPN encrypts all Internet traffic that passes through any application on the device where it is installed. These include web browsers, game apps, media players, torrent platforms, and anything else connected to the Internet.

In contrast, proxies generally only redirect traffic, and most do not use encryption at all. This means that user activity is exposed to snoopers and connections are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. In addition, proxies often do not authenticate their clients so everyone can connect. That makes them even more vulnerable to MITM attacks.

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