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What is the Difference Between VPN and Proxy – Which is More Secure?

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Posted November 4, 2018

Cybersecurity is becoming an important issue in today’s era. Both the prying eyes and hackers are getting experienced and malicious in gaining access to our personal information and data. This situation is increasing day by day and every other day or week we see news about leaked data, encryption, prying, and other digital privacy concerns.

For the sake of protection and security of the internet traffic data and activities and to use the Internet safely without any fear and concern, users either use a VPN or proxy service. Both of these methods are known best for keeping the identity anonymous and hiding the IP address, however, the functioning ability of both the technologies differs from each other.

Image credit: kreatikar via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Proxy Vs. VPN

A proxy is a gateway to the software used. For instance, the internet service provider is the gateway to the internet. Similarly, the proxy also works in the same way. There are four types of proxies and (apart from SSH proxy), they are not encrypted, but the traffic will not reach to the network.

Unlike the proxy service, a VPN is capable of protecting the entire internet connection as soon as you connect to it. A VPN cleverly and efficiently hides your use of almost everything like from uTorrent to emails to web browsing by creating a virtual network through our servers to redirect all the traffic data.

Both proxy and VPN connect you to a distant computer. Thus, one can think that they are more or less, the same thing but, the answer is NO.

Proxy and VPN enables you to connect to the internet like you are connecting from a different location. But the extent and level of privacy, encryption and doing the desired task is different in both the tools.

Let’s look at the differences between the two and find out, which one is the better option and more secure to use.

What is a ‘’Proxy Service’’?

A proxy server is an intermediary and gateway in the flow of Internet traffic data subsequently; the Internet activities seem to appear from another location. For example, you are physically present in Washington DC, and you want to connect to a website which there is a geo-restriction for the people living in the United Kingdom.

To cope up with this situation, you can connect to the proxy server located within the United Kingdom and then connect to that website. By doing so, the traffic from the web browser would seem to come from far away and distant computer and not of your own.

How does a ‘’Proxy’’ works?

A proxy server works like a web filter. The web proxy settings are applied to the browser of your own choice; it can be either Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or any other alternative. Then, a remote server facilitates your web browsing.

While using a proxy server, it seems you are browsing from an unknown server, but this is applicable only when you are browsing the internet. The IP address will get change into the browser of your choice. However, this change is not applicable to the entire internet connection. Proxy services are the best option for low-stakes tasks such as watching region-restricted You-tube videos, simply by sidestepping content filters and also avoiding IP-based restraints on services.

The countries where heavy censorship of the internet is present like China, their proxy services are widely used by people to access restricted sites like Facebook, Google, and YouTube. Since in using proxy service you can change your IP address, therefore, you can easily browse any site as if you are in other location. The proxy service is a very useful technique to unblock any content but still not a great option for boosting a person’s online security.

Drawbacks of Proxy

The proxy server doesn’t work well for high-stakes tasks. They only hide the IP address and don’t encrypt the internet traffic data.  This is because proxies are not designed to protect and secure the entire Internet traffic. Many proxies’ passes the user’s IP address to the destination site, turning them into unsafe and inappropriate for security and privacy-conscious users. Moreover, proxies are organized separately for each application such as email, browser, and third parties apps) however, there is some application that proxies’ don’t support.

The biggest drawback of proxy service is that if the ISP, legal authorities or hackers get access to your data so, they can easily spy on your traffic data. Moreover, sometimes specific activities, such as malicious Flash or JavaScript elements present in the web browser can disclose your real identity. This makes proxy servers unsafe and inappropriate for any acute and important tasks.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is known for adding a layer of security and privacy to your overall Internet experience. Whenever you connect to the Internet by a VPN, all internet traffic data pass through an encrypted remote server.

Since a VPN operates at the network level, therefore, its use expands beyond the web browser as well. A VPN ensures that any internet-dependent programs and applications used are supported and strengthened by encryption. Therefore, once a connection is established, everything is configured and protected automatically.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN grab all the traffic of every single application used on your computer, ranging from a web browser to online games even to Windows Update. Using VPN means neither the service provider nor any other prying eyes can access your internet traffic.

Even if you’re traveling to another country and you are concerned about logging into your financial websites or emails, you can easily manage your system to use a VPN service. With this service, you don’t need to worry about the Wi-Fi network’s inadequate security practices at a coffee shop or the hotel. VPN is capable of automatically encrypting every network connection by directly turning the insecure public Wi-Fi into a secure network.

The public/ free Wi-Fi’s are a big threat to internet privacy. Although now there are ways by which you can get free Wi-Fi anywhere you go, it imposes a great threat to your security. However, if you use a good VPN service so, you don’t need to worry about your traffic privacy. A VPN encrypts the traffic data and hides the IP address effectively.

Drawbacks of VPN

Although VPN is a very good choice when it comes to data encryption, there are also some drawbacks of this service. When you run a VPN, you need good hardware, such as a good VPN service, and usually, not all good VPN services are free. Moreover, VPN service chews both the processing power and bandwidth because of the operating cost introduced by the encryption protocols. The better the VPN protocol and remote hardware will be, the less operating cost will be.

Secondly, a VPN’s anonymity could be at risk at when a DNS leak occurs due to various factors. Also, a VPN service is prone to the IPv6 leak and WebRTC leak. Although these risks are not common, there is always a broader chance when there are numerous VPN service.

The performance of VPN suffers due to the proximity to the VPN server you are connected. VPN usually uses a local client to form a connection to the VPN server. Hence any local memory concerns can slow down the entire connections.

Security Differences between PROXY and VPN

The differences mentioned below will give you a clearer concept about the differences between proxy and VPN:

PROXY

  • It does not offer encryption security.
  • It does not provide any automatic setup.
  • It is difficult to use.
  • A proxy translates the source IP address into something new.
  • A proxy hides the IP address of the user.
  • A proxy often keeps detailed user log.

VPN

  • It offers encryption security.
  • It provides automatic setup for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
  • By just making a VPN account you can easily use it.
  • A VPN translates the source IP address into a new one which is provided by the VPN.
  • VPN hides real IP and encrypts the traffic data too.
  • VPNs provide the facility of being log-less.

Which is more secure to use?

Both proxy and VPN allow the user to access the web from a different location, but VPN is more secure VPNs are to use than a proxy. VPN is a good option for those who want to encrypt their connection on public Wi-Fi networks. Whereas proxy only hides the IP address. VPNs provide more location option to the user. Therefore, a user should worry about the location or place they are in and can surf the internet carefreely.

There are many ways which indicate that a VPN is fine and exceptional than a proxy server. Although both services efficiently hide the user IP address and protect them from the prying eyes the added functions of VPN make it more superior, safe, secure and private option than the proxy server.

Author Bio

Zehra Ali is a Tech Reporter and Journalist with 2 years of experience in infosec industry. She is also the Editor at PrivacySniffs.

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