We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
Advertising Disclosure

vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free Proxy — Learn About the Risks

Kristina Perunicic Managing Editor

As governments and tech giants around the world continue their attempt to weaken online privacy using strict surveillance laws and porous privacy policies, users are also increasingly becoming drawn to anonymous web browsing as a means of enhancing privacy, evading censorship, and accessing websites that aren’t available in their country or workplace network.

How web proxies work

Most Internet users have found solace in the use of web proxies as a means to access the Internet anonymously. The majority of these web proxies are offered for free under the term open proxiesthis has partly contributed to its soaring popularity. Think of a web proxy is a computer that acts as an intermediary between yours and a website, allowing you to anonymously browse the Web.

Whenever a user connects to a web proxy server and makes a request for a web page, the proxy responds by reaching out to the website and pulling the requested web page. It then sends it back to you and you can view the website. The advantage is that the website you go to through the proxy only sees the proxies’ internet address and not yours.  A proxy is, therefore, a good way to safely navigate the web without revealing your real internet address to the sites you visit.

Proxy diagramSource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server

However, the major problems with using free web proxies are that you may not know who is operating them. They could be cyber criminals, intelligence agencies’ honeypot, or a legitimate company with sinister business practices. Although a proxy server hides your identity and activities from the sites you visit, it can potentially see everything you are doing online. This raises concerns about trust. The question you should ask yourself is: why would someone spend so much money setting up a web proxy only to offer it for free? Can such a business entity be trusted with your data?

You can take a look at our most trusted Proxy services here.

Free Web proxies are not secure

According to an analysis by a security researcher Christian Haschek, the majority of free web proxies are not secure or trustworthy. In his initial analysis, Haschek wrote a computer program to check 443 free web proxies to see if a given proxy allows encrypted (HTTPS) web traffic, and whether the proxy attempts to modify website content or inject ads into the user’s browser session.

His findings show that only 21 percent of the tested proxies were not into sinister practices. The rest of the 79 percent of surveyed web proxies forced users to load web pages in the unencrypted (HTTP) form. Furthermore, Haschek also found that about 16 percent of the analyzed web proxies modified HTML codes and another 8 percent modified JavaScript codes on the visited websites in order to inject ads and steal cookies. A further analysis of over twenty thousand proxies bolstered his initial findings. What all this means is that the majority of the operators of those proxies cannot be trusted.

With the rising trend in global mass surveillance and theft of sensitive personal information, the use of HTTPS protocol to encrypt web traffic is becoming increasingly important. HTTPS signals the web browser to use an added encryption layer of known as SSL/TLS to protect web traffic. By deliberately preventing customers from using the Web securely, Haschek warns these open proxies can potentially analyze your traffic, force you to participate in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites, and steal your sensitive information such as credit card or login details.

Are there better alternatives?

If you are currently using web proxies or strongly prefer them, Haschek has developed a free tool to assist you in verifying whether a specific proxy is free from web content manipulation or the coercion of users to load unencrypted web pages. Nevertheless, he strongly advises against using free proxies altogether. In his words, "tell your friends never to use free proxies...” As the saying goes, "if you are not paying for a product, you are most likely the product."

You can also use vpnMentor's proxy tool to surf the web anonymously.

But it’s not all gloomy though, secure alternatives do exist. One good example of such is Virtual Private Network (VPN). (Read about the differences between Proxies and VPNs.)

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 77%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 84%!

The fact that most VPN providers rely on earnings from monthly or yearly service subscriptions to sustain their operations, they are less likely to resort to manipulating web content or traffic in order to inject ads – this is not to say that all paid VPN services give adequate consideration to their customer’s privacy.  To be on the safe side, avoid those that keep logs of your web browsing activities as they are more likely to engage in obnoxious practices. You may want to check out our top VPN picks; it’s definitely a good place to start.

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Kristina Perunicic is a former editor for vpnMentor. She’s a cybersecurity expert with an interest in VPNs and their importance in the digital privacy landscape.

Did you like this article? Rate it!
I hated it! I don't really like it It was ok Pretty good! Loved it!
out of 10 - Voted by users
Thank you for your feedback