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Proxies are often treated as consumables that eat into your budget, so it’s tempting to switch to free proxies. The truth is, free proxies are a sort of free cheese in a mouse trap. Free proxies usually carry severe risks that are expensive to deal with. In this article, we will walk you through the nine downsides to using public proxies. From poor performance to security threats, free proxies have a lot of dark sides that, in the end, will make you pay double.

Blocked IPs

Often, proxies are used when you need to perform data-heavy tasks like web scraping. It means that you have to send a lot of requests to the sites. If you try to do it with a single IP, you risk being blocked. To avoid this, you need multiple IPs. But what if the IPs you use are already blocked? It means that you won’t be able to reach the necessary sites and extract data. Blacklisted IPs are not a rare thing for public proxies because they are often used to send spam or flood sites with bot traffic. Site owners often find and block free IPs beforehand. This way, with public proxies, you may bump into the problem you’re trying to avoid. This makes it senseless to use public proxies.

Low speed

A lot of people use free proxies – more than a proxy server can handle without reducing speed. This results in a slow connection. You would have to wait a long time for a web page to download. That’s annoying, even if you’re an ordinary user. But business needs, for example, price comparison or ad verification, call for a fast, one-second connection. Free proxies simply cannot fulfill such tasks.

A limited number of locations

One of the main reasons to use proxies is to access web sources that are blocked in your location. The issue is that there may be no free proxy servers at the necessary location, and you won’t be able to reach what you need. Or there may be one more issue: a proxy server may be located in a target country but still far away from the necessary location. For example, you need to access a French site. The server that hosts this site is located in the northern part of the country. And a free proxy server is located in the southern part. It means that servers are far away from each other. Data will have to come a long way. It will result in a low-speed connection. You already know the consequences of it.

Lack of service

Free proxies cannot offer you 24/7 customer support or traffic usage statistics. By using them, you’re left without quality service. You’re limited in the information that you can get. If there are any problems, like a failed connection, you have to deal with them on your own.

Unencrypted connection

Limited locations or low-speed connection are bad but not dangerous. The main reason to avoid public proxies is that you risk your safety using them.

When you are online you send requests with every action, be it following a link, commenting, or inputting a password. Web sites then send you responses. So, your device exchanges information with the global web. If you don’t want your information to be stolen in the process, you need encryption. When your data is encrypted, it is encoded when going from your browser to the destination server, and vice versa. Even if somebody manages to intercept that data, they won’t be able to decipher it or make any use of it. If data is not encrypted, it’s risky. Hackers may intercept it and use it for DDoS attacks or other illicit activities. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack. Public proxies usually don’t offer encryption because secure certificates cost money. Who will spend money on such a thing if there will be no money back? That’s why your data is not protected with public proxies. 

IP tracking

A proxy server always knows your real IP. If a public proxy is configured or hacked by bad actors, they know your IP too. Of course, hackers cannot harm you if they know only your IP. But they can use it to learn more. Using your IP, bad actors can deliberately track down your activity, giving you zero privacy on the web. Con artists may also use apps like Kali Linux to gain access to your computer. Such apps are used to test devices and see if there are any vulnerabilities, but hackers may use them as well, and their reasons are not that decent. Or they can figure out your internet service provider. Then attack your provider to get ahold of your personal information, like your name, precise address, and bank account password. Or it’s a way to do it even without an attack. If they know your IP, your location, and what pages you visit, they can trick your provider into giving away personal details about you, using your IP as a verification method.

Rewriting responses

Rewriting responses is a way to redirect you to a phishing page. Normally, when you perform any action online, you send requests. A request is like an explanation note for a target server. It contains details like the type of content you’re searching for or acceptable language. This way, a target server understands what you’re looking for. When a server sends you necessary data, it’s called an HTTP response. If you use a proxy server, all the requests and responses go through it. It means that a proxy server can modify responses. For example, change the target server’s name or ETag. As a result, you will be redirected to another page. The URL in this case may look pretty normal, and you won’t suspect anything. If you enter credentials on such a page, your personal data may be stolen. If you try to buy something on it, you’ll end up losing money.    

Code injection

To show you a web page, a proxy server fetches the HTML code of that page and then displays the page to you. In the process, a server can modify the code and infuse pieces of malicious JavaScript. When you open such a page, an added code may be executed even without you knowing about it. There are attacks when you don’t even need to click on links or interact with the content of a page; it’s enough to just visit an infected source. This way, your device may crash or be infected with viruses, ransomware, or malware. Your personal data may be stolen too.

Cookie theft

A cookie is a short extract of information about you. It helps sites recognise you and personalise content. When you enter logins and passwords, they become part of cookies too. Cookies are stored in your browser. When you revisit a website, your browser sends cookies to it. If you use a proxy server, the server reads your cookies too. If it’s a public proxy, hackers may get a hold of your personal data. They can log in to your accounts using your credentials or download illegal materials onto the darknet using your name, thus framing you.

As you can see, all the possible ways lead to the same result: people who shouldn’t have it have your personal information. The study conducted by Christian Haschek reveals that 86% of public proxies hide one or several of the risks listed above. If you use public proxies for business needs, a lot of information, like your employees’ personal details, may be revealed. If one device in your internal network is infected with viruses, the whole network may be crushed, resulting in severe losses of money and reputation. That’s why it’s a bad idea to try to save money by using free proxies. On the contrary, using proxies from trusted providers and thus ensuring your security is a real way to save money.

What can you have with DataImpulse?

  • High-speed connection

The average response time of our proxies is one second. We don’t resell traffic from other providers. It means that we can control how many users connect to each of our servers and balance the load. As a result, you get a stable, high-speed connection.

  • Clear proxies

We legally obtain our IPs. People install a special app on their devices and opt in to sell a part of their traffic. We pay for their GBs. We set some limits for them about what resources they can access. We set restrictions for our users as well. This ensures that by using our IPs, nobody accesses illegal sources or sends spam. Those precautions significantly lower the risk of you wasting time on blacklisted IPs. You can effectively scrape the web or perform other tasks. We offer you more than five million addresses to satisfy your needs.

  • Security

We don’t sell information about you to third parties. We don’t track your online activity. You can choose the HTTPS protocol and this way your data will be encrypted while transferring. With us, you can safely surf the net from 194 locations, and don’t be afraid to expose your sensitive data.

  • 24/7 custom support

If there are questions or issues, you’re not alone. We are ready to help or guide you even at night, on weekends, and holidays. Our dashboard is easy to use, and it takes a little time to configure all the settings. You can switch between different types of proxies or protocols depending on your needs. We have detailed tutorials for numerous use cases, so you can just follow them and don’t waste too much time on settings.

To wrap up

Sometimes it’s reasonable to refuse something to save money, but that’s not the case with proxies. Free proxies are at least not effective, as they cannot provide you with the necessary number of IPs and a high-speed connection. The more important fact is that they hide a lot of security threats. Paid proxy servers are a relatively small investment that gives you huge interest in terms of security and results. At DataImpulse, you can have more than 5+ million IPs from 194 locations and take care of your business while we take care of your online security. Contact us by using the widget in the bottom-right corner or start right away by clicking on the “Try now” button in the top-right corner.