Online privacy became one of the most important things for Internet users around the globe. People don’t feel safe while browsing the Internet and accessing various kinds of content. This is why VPNs, proxies and other solutions became very popular around independent users as well as business. But how these solutions actually work and how do they protect you while being online? With this article, I will try to explain things in the easiest way possible.
Issues with online privacy
There are many issues with online privacy and the biggest one is spying. People online don’t feel safe usually because they feel that some invisible creature is tracking their every step and collecting data about them. And this is not some conspiracy theory, this is pure reality. Many websites implement cookies, track your location, want to be able to connect with you through emails, phone numbers, social networks, etc. While some of the trackers are implemented for a good reason, there are so many of them that can be used for bad purposes as well.
Apart from spying the other big issue is mishandling information. There are various sites on the internet that need your personal information to get access to their services. These sites often store cookies and save your personal information and later use it for various purposes. Most of the time this information is not encrypted and can be accessed by anyone. This mishandling of personal information may lead to serious consequences.
With this being said, we have to understand that not being spied on is possible only if you stay offline and live in the real-world without accessing the World Wide Web. This sounds crazy in the time we live in. And because of that, people are looking for various solutions to avoid being spied on — they try not to register on the websites and not to leave their online fingerprint, try to accept cookies only when it’s necessary, try not to provide information about themselves, avoid so many annoying registrations online or using services that can help them to change their location, IP addresses, encrypts their data, etc.
How to stay safe online?
Since online privacy has such great importance nowadays, people found various solutions to protect themselves from spying eyes as well as from content and rules they don’t want to access. The most common ways to protect yourself and don’t leave fingerprints online became using VPN services or proxy services.
When you use a VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your data is secure from prying eyes along the way. Because your traffic is exiting the VPN server, your computer appears to have the IP address of the said server, masking your identity and location. In other words, a VPN can keep your computer, smartphone, and any other device you connect to the internet safe from hackers and malware while keeping all your personal data and communications safe from prying eyes. With cybercrime on the rise, it’s easy to see why so many people have started using them.
VPNs are usually used by individuals who want to avoid blocks, access restricted content (or the content that isn’t available in their country/region), browse the Internet and are a great help for those who travel. Various geo-restrictions usually cause a lot of problems when trying to connect to the Internet (especially, when you’re traveling or live in the countries in Asia). But with VPN all of these issues can be solved by clicking several buttons.
Because of the usefulness of VPN, there are many providers that can offer you VPN services that can be easily used for any reason — to prevent yourself from spying eyes or to watch your favorite TV shows. These providers can be easily found online, but from my personal experience, I would recommend checking these — NordVPN, Surfshark, IPVanish VPN or to check more here
A proxy server acts as a gateway between you and the internet. It’s an intermediary server separating end users from the websites they browse. Proxy servers act as a firewall and web filter, provide shared network connections, and cache data to speed up common requests. Proxies also change your IP address and help to change your location since there are millions of proxies that can be used throughout the world. Other than VPN, proxies are more used in the business world since many of proxy use cases include market research, web scraping, ad verification, working with automatic tools for social marketing, etc. This is also shown in the prices of proxy services since proxies cost much more than VPN. Nevertheless, proxies can be used by individuals as well. There are several kinds of proxies — datacenter proxies, residential proxies, mobile proxies. All of them can be used for the same reason, the only difference is in how that particular proxy works and from where it allows you to connect to the Internet.
The same as for VPN, there are many proxy providers that can offer you services according to your needs. From my perspective, the best proxy providers at the moment are:
Smartproxy — provider with the pool of 10 million IPs around the world, datacenter and residential proxies that can be used for hiding your IP address, for social marketing automation, market research and much more. They have 4 different pricing plans for their services with the cheapest starting from $75. Also, if you will use code SMARTPRO you can get a 20% discount on your first purchase;
GeoSurf — they can offer you 2 million IPs from various locations around the world. One of the great things about this provider is that it can offer you not only proxy services but VPN as well so it’s worthed to check them out;
Oxylabs - this is one of the most known proxy providers in the market at the moment. Oxylabs have more than 30 million residential IPs in their pool and specializes in data center IPs as well as residential IPs. Simply put - this is the provider that can offer you high-quality services that can keep you safe online and guarantee you your privacy and anonymity when crawling, web scraping, working on market research, ad verification, etc.
Microleaves — various of proxy use case scenarios. Their services are really fast and they have unlimited bandwidth. It’s a bit more pricy compared to Smartproxy or GeoSurf, but it’s always a good idea to invest in your privacy online.
Of course, you can find more providers here
Yet another possibility is to use TOR. Tor is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication. Tor does not prevent an online service from determining when it is being accessed through Tor. Tor protects a user’s privacy but does not hide the fact that someone is using Tor. Tor offers technology that bounces internet users’ and websites’ traffic through “relays” run by thousands of volunteers around the world, making it extremely hard for anyone to identify the source of the information or the location of the user. Most commonly this service is used by usual people who want to keep their internet activities private from websites and advertisers; those concerned about cyberspying; and users evading censorship in certain parts of the world. But you should keep in mind that Tor can mask users’ identities, but also host their websites via its “hidden services” capabilities, which mean sites can only be accessed by people on the Tor network. This is the so-called “dark web” element, and it’s not unusual to see Tor pop up in stories about a range of criminal sites.
Top comments (1)
Very interesting and useful article, thanks! It's very important to use different soft, which can protect from online hacks and something like that. I started using such tools not a long time ago, but it was the right decision. And if someone still has no idea what to use, here is the article about Best Anti-Spyware Software, which will undoubtedly help you.