Andy Green's Blog

A web-workers world…

Why Do People Use Web Proxies?

For most people, web proxies are unknown and usually unexplored territory, however they can be very useful in certain circumstances. Essentially, web proxies are proxy servers which allow you to by-pass filters and blocks which may prevent you from visiting certain websites. Many schools and workplaces have such strong filters in place that people who use their computers cannot even access their hotmail account, let alone social networking sites like MySpace or FaceBook. Furthermore, most people are unaware that governments can block their citizens from visiting certain websites. China, for example, has significant blocks on what its citizens can view over the internet. We should also not assume that Western Countries don’t have blocks of their own.

A sign that a website is being blocked to your IP address is that the page just will not load. You can override such obstructions by taking advantage of a proxy server. Proxy servers work by simply typing in the web address you want to visit into the search box on their web page. You will then visit the website via the proxy’s IP address, rather than your own. Chances are, you will now be able to get through to the site.

If you wish to use a web proxy all the time, rather than just in certain circumstances, you can configure your computer to access the internet via a particular web proxy. This can give you added security if you are concerned that your internet habits could be monitored to use against you in some way. Unfortunately, if the web proxy you choose has been set up by criminals to monitor passwords and to obtain personal financial information you can be in real trouble. It is therefore essential that you take time to research safe and reputable proxy servers.

Students at schools and universities can be hamstrung by overly tight controls on searches because software protections can cause some terms to be excluded if they have an alternate, negative meaning. Bypassing the security system and accessing a search engine via a proxy server can provide a far broader range of search results to assist with school assignments.

Of course, we would be naïve to think that school students would only want to bypass their school’s computer security for study purposes. Most probably want to talk to their friends on their favorite social networking sites, check their emails or play computer games. These desires will also drive workers to use proxy servers at work.

There other significant benefits of using a web proxy. Your IP address is hidden which means you cannot be tracked on the internet by marketing companies, spy software, or criminals looking to steal your personal information.

It is important, however, to understand that you can still be traced via a proxy server, so while you may choose for convenience to bypass controls to view certain websites, make sure that you are not acting illegally. There are real benefits to proxy servers in controlled environments as they can give you the freedom to move as you wish around the internet. However, understand the laws of your country and international laws and act responsibly with proxy servers. They are not a way to cheat law enforcement authorities as log records of proxy servers can be obtained.

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September 18, 2008 - Posted by | Online Security | ,

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