What's the difference between using proxy vs. VPN?

May 15, 2013 | by Robert Siciliano

If you live in or travel to a country that controls what websites citizens can and cannot view, then you might not have access to sites like Facebook or YouTube. In this case you might have considered using a proxy or a VPN — But what’s the difference?

A virtual private network is a network set up to communicate privately over a public network. A VPN protects your data between your laptop, iPad, iPhone or Android device and an internet gateway. 

It does this by creating an impenetrable, secure tunnel to prevent snoopers, hackers and ISPs from viewing your web-browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network.

A proxy server (sometimes called a web proxy) generally attempts to anonymize web surfing. There are different varieties of anonymizers. The destination server (the server that ultimately satisfies the web request) receives requests from the anonymizing proxy server, and thus does not receive information about the end user’s address.

Proxies and VPNs are both designed to change your IP address and manipulate your Internet browsing to allow you to access YouTube, Facebook, etc. — so they will essentially unblock those restricted sites.

However a proxy doesn’t offer encryption, which means the information you are sending and receiving may be intercepted and stolen on public Wi-Fi. A VPN, on the other hand, will act both as a proxy and allow the access but also keeps your information and communication private due to encryption.

Insist on a VPN option that protects your entire web surfing session, securing your connection at both your home Internet network and public Internet networks (both wired and wireless). It will protect your identity by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloading data, etc.) are secured through HTTPS — the protected Internet protocol.


Topics: Security, Wireless


Robert Siciliano / Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. He is a nationally known speaker on the subject of identity theft.
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