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What's the Difference Between VPNs and Proxies and which is secure?

If you are overseas somewhere and want to access your Facebook page…don’t be surprised if you can’t do this. In fact, you won’t even be able to get onto the Facebook site (or YouTube, for that matter), depending on what country that you are visiting. This is because some countries limit website access for their citizens.

You can get around this with a VPN (virtual private network) or proxy server. However, they are not one and the same. Let’s look at the features of each.

VPN

  • A VPN does the so-called scrambling or encryption of data so that hackers can’t tell what you are doing. To put this another way, a VPN provides a “tunnel” through which your data goes. This tunnel cannot be penetrated. Your transmissions are hidden, unable to be viewed.
  • This protected data includes e-mail communications, login information, instant messages, which sites you visit, downloads and more.
  • A VPN is private communication over a public network and can be used on all types of devices.
  • A VPN will alter your IP address, making it seem that you are using your computer somewhere other than the country that prohibits access to Facebook. You can navigate Facebook with ease while visiting that country.

Proxy Server

  • This makes the user anonymous. The proxy server does the job of anonymizing. The server of the site you want to visit receives requests from this anonymous server. As a result, even if you are in that country that bans Facebook access, it will have no idea where you are located. Hence, you can get on Facebook.
  • Your data, transmissions, etc., however, are not hidden by any tunnel or scrambled (encrypted).
  • Therefore, with the proxy server, even though you can spend hours on Facebook or YouTube in that foreign country…any transmissions or activities you conduct can be intercepted by a hacker if you are using public Wi-Fi.

Now if you have a VPN with the proxy server, this solves that problem. Nobody will be able to snoop or steal data like your credit card information when you shop online.

However, there is no point in having both, when one can do the entire job: the virtual private network. Think of a VPN as having a built-in proxy server.

Hotspot Shield is a VPN that encrypts all of your online activities in that non-penetrable tunnel, while at the same time making it impossible for your location to be identified. You are essentially anonymous. Hotspot Shield works for both wireless and wired connections.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

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  • Published by IT Specialist Network