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Beware: Are Free Proxies Safe?
Updated · Jul 31, 2023
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While free anonymous web browsing sounds tempting, it comes with a price. Continue reading to learn more about the risks of using a free proxy.
Is It Safe To Use Free Proxies?
The answer is “no.” Free proxies are unsafe. They may make you anonymous online, but they come with numerous threats to your privacy on the web.
Typically, proxies do not encrypt data. This means that the proxy provider can see every piece of information about you on your device. If you use a free proxy, the provider can sell your data to earn money.
Free proxies are suitable only if you're browsing the web for fun—with no sensitive information at risk. Use paid proxies if you're logging into an account, shopping, or working.
What is the Best Proxy Server?
Smartproxy is a top-rated proxy provider trusted by many. Its 40 million+ proxies from 195+ locations help bypass CAPTCHAs, geo-blocks, and IP bans. It offers a free trial and has a high rating of 4.7 on Trustpilot with 89% 5-star ratings, making it one of the best in the industry.
Reasons To Avoid Free Proxies
Using free online proxies is tempting since they offer anonymity at no cost. However, saving a few dollars is not worth the risk.
To help you understand, here are five main reasons why you should avoid getting a free proxy:
1. Lack Of Encryption
One of the downsides of using a proxy is the lack of encryption. Your data and online activity are always visible — be it with a paid or free proxy.
If you use a proxy, you will connect to non-encrypted servers. They will force you to load a page in HTTP. However, since most free proxies do not support HTTPS, this may lead to the exposure of your sensitive data.
There are free proxies that support HTTPS, but they are hard to come by. If you ever found one, you will also need a bunch of them, especially over you're rotating proxies.
2. Potential Traffic Tracking
There are many reasons why free proxy providers do not support HTTPS. The most common is that it requires security certificates, which costs money.
Free online proxy providers don't use a security certificate to cut expenses. The main reason is that these providers want to track traffic.
When loading web pages over HTTP, the providers can see your traffic and get sensitive data. With your data exposed, the providers can sell it to earn money.
3. Malware-Ridden Ads
While some providers offer free open proxies out of kindness, the majority of them want to earn money from the proxies as a business.
Besides stealing your data, they also get paid by placing ads on the platforms you visit. Simple display ads are harmless.
However, you can also encounter malware-ridden ads. These ads can spread malware to users and compromise their data and devices.
At first glance, you will never know if an ad on a free proxy is malware-free or not. Free proxy sites can insert anything since there are no rules or policies related to ad types.
4. Poor Connection Issues
Since these proxies are free, you can expect many people to use them. Unfortunately, this high amount of usage can lead to poor connections.
Some users get around this problem by using another server. However, this solution is only temporary since free servers are always crowded.
5. Potential Cookie Theft
Web cookies get and store your sensitive data, which is why attackers always target this type of data. Some common data stored in cookies are phone numbers, addresses, login credentials, and more.
Web servers generate and store cookies on local disks. However, when using a proxy, unwanted parties can access them.
Cookie theft is the usual cause of identity theft. With data from cookies, attackers can hack accounts or pretend to be you.
Alternatives To Free Proxies
Instead of risking your privacy and safety with free proxies, it's best to pay a small fee for paid proxies. You can find providers offering affordable proxy services to enjoy reliable, secure, and flexible proxies.
Here are five inexpensive proxies you can pick from:
Pricing: Around $1 per month
If you want the cheapest alternative to free proxies, PacketStream is the best option. This provider offers affordable residential proxies.
Packet Stream does not support city-lever targeting or SOCKS5. It also has a small proxy pool. Still, it remains affordable if you want a secure proxy without paying too much.
Pricing: Starts at $7 monthly
IPRoyal isn't the cheapest, but with its services, you'll pay less than others.
Here, you can enjoy proxies that don't expire. You'll also have flexible filters and rotations. The proxy pool is small but enough for easy tasks.
Pricing: Starts at $8.5/mo.
Smartproxy is another ideal option if you want the best value for what you pay. With this provider, you can access a large proxy pool with a broad reach.
This option offers enough features to support typical tasks. It's also best for beginners since they have excellent customer support that can help with setting up the proxy.
Pricing: Around $15 per month
Bright Data is costly, but it's the best if you want the largest proxy pool. It's an ideal option if you use proxies for demanding tasks or backbreaking work.
If you only use proxies for light work or tasks, it's best to go for more affordable options.
Pricing: Starts at $15 monthly
If you're doing heavy tasks like web scraping or data parsing, Oxylabs is an ideal option. It offers flexible rotation, a simple dashboard, and a dedicated account manager.
Free proxies offer an easy solution for staying anonymous on the Internet. You may not pay with money with free proxies. However, it puts you at risk and compromises your information.
Most free proxies are always unreliable. Moreover, they expose you to problems like malware, unsafe web pages, and cookie theft.
Using free proxies may seem like a no-lose situation. Still, your sensitive data is much more important than a few dollars worth of a secure proxy.
Are free SOCKS5 proxies safe?
SOCKS5 proxies are generally safe, but the free ones can still be risky. SOCKS5 lacks data encryption like most proxies. It's best to use paid SOCKS5 proxies that offer more features for better security.
Does Google block free proxies?
Since free proxies are available to the public, they are easily detected and blocked by Google. Besides Google, other websites can also block you if they detect that you are using a proxy.
Is a free VPN better than a free proxy?
A free VPN can be as risky as a free proxy. Free VPN providers earn money by collecting or tracking data and including malware-ridden ads. Moreover, the free ones usually have weak encryption, making them easier to hack.
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