Protecting ourselves online
Every time you visit a website on the Internet you leave behind a digital footprint with information about yourself. This digital footprint holds information on where you’re accessing the Internet, right down to the city, the Internet service provider you are with, and even what operating system you are using. All of this information is available to the public, meaning anyone can obtain this information free of charge and legally. How can you safeguard against it?
There are ways to protect your IP address, and the information that can be gathered from it, by using a proxy server. A proxy server works by hiding your original IP address behind a false IP address. This allows you to effectively ‘hide’ behind another set of information. There is nothing illegal about using a proxy to keep information safe on the Internet, so don’t be worried that visiting a proxy website will get you in trouble.
A web-based proxy server
The easiest way to use a proxy server is by visiting a web-based proxy. A web-based proxy is a website that allows you to visit other websites through its server anonymously. All you have to do is enter the URL (web address) of the website that you want to visit and the web-based proxy will then take you to that website using their IP address.
The drawbacks to using a web-based proxy server is that most aren’t free, or if they are they’re usually filled with ads that can severely affect the quality of your Internet browsing. The web-based proxy is usually slower than your normal browsing speed because the website you want to view has to go through the proxy server before it gets to you, but it’s definitely the easiest way to use a proxy.
An open proxy server
An open proxy server website will have a list of IP addresses available for anyone to use, from various countries around the world. You simply have to copy the IP address and port number, from the list on the proxy website, and then go into your web browser settings. Depending on your browser, you can do this with any browser, you need to find the option that will allow you to set a proxy server, or change your IP address and port number. You then paste in the IP address and port number you took from the proxy website, and click apply. After restarting the Internet page the settings should take effect, and the proxy IP address will have changed.
This method means you’ll go directly to the website you want to visit, so it’s faster than a web-based proxy. There will be no ads to contend with either, and it’s free to use.
One issue to be aware of when using an open proxy server is that its availability, to all people in the world, means that some other Internet users may be using the open server for illegal purposes, such as fraud. You should make sure that your Internet browser is up-to-date and likewise, for your anti-virus and firewall protection.
Should you use a proxy?
If you want to protect your information, then using a proxy is an option, but as with all surfing on the Internet it can’t be 100% secure. It’s just as important to keep anti-virus and firewall software up to date, but a proxy can be another invaluable tool in keeping information private. As always, be vigilante when surfing the Internet.