In a world where global transactions take place within seconds of initiation. Where Millions of cryptocurrency coins are exchanged across the framework of distributed systems. Internet security is and will always remain a major concern. It is estimated that half of the world’s population will prioritize their network privacy more than their homeland security by the year 2025. This is accounted for the rapid shift from physical business to online digital business as well as increased social media activity.Proxies, VPNs, and TOR are all tool for ensuring internet security.
They all share a common goal of ensuring the internet user anonymity while using the network. At least in this one respect, they are all look-alikes and therefore why most people find it difficult to differentiate them. In this article, we are going to take a look at three of them, their pros and cons and when to favor any of them against the rest.
What is a Proxy?
In a literary sense, a proxy is a tool that a computer will use to safeguard your information. A proxy allows you to access information from a source, for instance, the internet and then prevents the source from gaining information from you. Such information includes IP addresses, contacts or even sites that you frequently visit. To do this the proxy acts as a third-party client that receives your browser requests and sends them to your target server. The targets send back the response to the proxy and the proxy sends it back to you. Then comes the big confusion. What’s the advantage of this if not a humongous slow down of your internet speed? Well, this it.
For the business guy, a proxy will allow you to block usage of given sites that restrain from your policy guidelines. Through a proxy, the network administrator can easily record the URLs users login to and thus control which ones to use and which ones not to. This will enable you to block inappropriate content, scams or unproductive site internet usage that may lead to business loses.
For the adventurers’ surfer, a proxy will enable you to circumvent a website’s IP address filtering rules and thus gain access to a website that otherwise you were supposedly blocked from accessing. Some sites will restrict users from certain regions from accessing them and by connecting to those sites through a proxy in the allowed geo-location you, therefore, get access to the websites. And this is where the main similarity between the proxies, VPNs, and Tor come in. They all hide your information as we will see later still within this article.
What is VPN?
A VPN allows the user to transfer network traffic to a public network or server from a remote connection or computer. This makes the VPN a third party in this sense and it makes your remote computer to be connecting from the VPN’s location which is not so. Then the question arises: What then differentiates a VPN from a proxy?
Given that your computer comes from a location that it doesn’t; it clearly indicates the ability to connect to a geo-restricted site. So here is the difference which will only hint since we are going to discuss these differences once again within the article. Whereas the Proxy captures the remote connection of a single application on your computer, eg a browser the VPN captures the entire connection of your computer from every single application installed on your computer, whether running natively or in the background.
Image credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virtual_Private_Network_overview.svg
What is Tor?
Tor is a software/browser that enables you to browse the internet anonymously. Tor safeguards your information from spies by bouncing your computer’s communication around a distributed network of thousands of relays provided by volunteers from around the world. This means Tor is free.
The similarity among the three ends with providing anonymity. You may, however, ask what differentiates tor from VPN and proxy. Tor transfers your identity across distributed servers one at a time and encrypting such that your signals cannot be traced back to you. which makes it extremely difficult to track a user’s traffic. If you try to track down a tor user what you are likely to see if at all you manage to decrypt them is traffic coming from a lot of random locations.
Tor For Linux
Tor is available in most Linux distro repositories. All you need to do is use your package manager to install Tor in Linux distribution.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/tor-browser sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install tor-browser
The choice you make among the three should be determined by the following factors.
VPNs are known to run on huge amounts of processing power and bandwidth. Without a strong network, your connection is likely to suffer a slowdown. For the proxy, you will only incur a little cost for bandwidth and will run on low amounts of processing power. When it comes to performance proxies are your best choice since Tor of late has been affected by a high number of users which has led to slow performance.
Proxies will only hide your IP address thus disguise your identity. However, a proxy will not encrypt your information/traffic between the proxy server and your computer. This is likely to allow leaking of information between your computer to the server. Tor will not encrypt your data if you are visiting a site that does not encrypt its data.
Tor, therefore, leaves the task of encrypting user traffic to the users themselves. When it comes to VPN this is an upside because VPNs are known to encrypt your traffic through a highly secured tunnel from the remote computer to the VPN server. This makes VPNs highly secure and most ideal than the rest two.
Selecting among the three, however, seems a very daunting task. When it came to the VPN I didn’t mention the cost since it requires much of your pocket. I did not hint about this mainly because you are not likely to prioritize your money against the security of your network. I would recommend a VPN to a serious individual like a businessperson, a hacker or an organization.
Proxies are suitable for hobbyist internet surfers while Tor is likely to be recommended to high privacy stakes like a lawyer whose life is in danger or a drug trafficker all the same. For the drug trafficker, we wouldn’t any way recommend anything else apart from a change of behavior.