Some Unknown Perils of Using Proxy Servers

Monday, December 7, 2009

Most people don’t know that everything they do on the internet can be traced back directly to their computers. This is made possible by each computer’s IP or Internet Protocol which is a unique code that is assigned to a particular computer by the ISP or the Internet Service Provider. Each computer only makes use of one IP while on the internet – it acts like the fingerprint of one’s computer.

The Proxy Server

For one reason or another, a lot of people continue to look for ways to protect their online identity. One of the best ways to do this is by making use of a proxy server.

A proxy server, or at least one that has been properly configured, allows users to perform their online activities without being traced back to their actual IP. Proxy servers appear like a single user on the internet, when in reality a good hundred people could actually working behind it. Although it may be possible to be traced back to the proxy server used, there is no way for people to go further than this which means that it is nearly impossible for one’s IP address to be tracked.

The Dangers

Proxy servers can definitely be beneficial for a lot of folks. However, issues begin to arise when these proxy servers are run by malicious entities that only intend to harvest information from unsuspecting users. This has become an all too common occurrence on the internet which has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people.

One of the biggest problems with proxy servers is that most of them do not make use of any sort of encryption. For the users, this means that all the data they pass through the proxy will be sent ‘as is.’ That is, all the information a user types in can be easily seen by someone who knows how to get around these servers. This is why it is never a good idea to visit sites that ask for personal details when using a proxy server. Users are generally advised to stay away from shopping sites as they require bank and credit card details. These types of information are surely those that one wouldn’t want to be going around.

Not Just for Cybercrime

Aside from being used to steal personal information, proxy servers are also used by some companies to mine data from. One will be surprised at the sheer number of large companies and corporations that make use of such a dubious method for their market research. Some retailers open free proxy servers to specifically serve this purpose. Once they have it in place, they can very easily get information on their users such as their buying history in order to come up with tailored marketing campaigns for each user. Although this may sound extreme, this is nothing more than a variation of the ever so popular loyalty card scheme – albeit, a bit more covert and without the user’s knowledge.


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