VPN vs Proxy: In our modern world, cyber crimes continue to escalate dramatically. The most common cyber attacks of 2023 that threaten businesses are malware, spyware, ransomware, phishing, a man-in-the-middle (MITM), and DDoS. These threats cause irreversible damage to businesses. That’s why security and data privacy have become the top concerns for businesses of all sizes. Nowadays, protecting corporate assets and data is the most essential duty of an organization. 

To cope with increasing cyber risks and safeguard corporate assets, many organizations consider employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a proxy server. Both tools share similar functions like hiding identities, locations, and bypassing geo-restrictions but they aren’t the same. Between the two of them, there are remarkable differences that you need to know before making a decision. In this blog, we will analyze VPNs and proxies, and investigate the key differences and common grounds to give you a better perspective about which one is more suitable for your business. 

What is a VPN and How Does it Work? 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that creates private connections between users and networks while enabling secure data transmission across public networks through private networks. VPNs have tunneling protocols that allow them to accomplish point-to-point connections. While using VPNs, users’ identities and their online activities remain anonymous and private. When users log on to their VPN client, they are assigned a new IP address, and this enables the anonymity of data sources. VPNs prevent third parties from tracking and spying users’ online activities. 

On top of these, VPNs employ end-to-end encryption and make data transfers secure. When you send data, VPN encrypts it until it arrives at its intended destination. During the transfer, it makes the data unreadable to unauthorized parties. Most reliable VPN providers employ military-grade 256-bit encryption and provide enhanced data security. Generally, VPNs are paid services and third-party providers maintain private servers and enable encryption. On the market, you can find free VPN services, but these providers might track and sell your data to third parties. Also, free VPNs often lack security and use poor encryption which can leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

What is a Proxy and How Does it Work? 

Proxies aka proxy server is an intermediary that acts as a gateway between a user that requests a source and the server providing the source. In other words, proxies are the gateways for you to connect to the internet. Like VPNs, proxies rely on external servers, and all traffic generated from users’ devices is routed to proxy servers and each data packet is assigned a new IP address. While using a proxy, users can anonymize their identities and third parties can’t see their real location. Also, proxies can be used to filter content and approve or reject devices’ access to certain websites. 

The main types of proxies are HTTP, SOCKS5, Transparent, and Private Proxies. Each of these has different use cases, functionalities, and prosperities. But, none of them provides encryption for the data in transit. This makes data transfers insecure and vulnerable to cyber criminals. 

VPN vs Proxy: Common Grounds and Differences 

Before choosing the right solution, it is critical to understand the common grounds and differences between the two technologies. First, we should underline the similarities, then their differences. In this regard, both VPNs and proxies can be used for anonymous web browsing as these technologies assign new IP addresses for users and hide their actual location. This also allows users to bypass geo-restricted content and access them. 

Another similarity between them is that both technologies employ third-party routers and using these services usually requires working with external partners. These solutions can be implemented in-house too, but maintaining these will increase the costs. The last similarity between them is that they can be employed to control network access. With proxies, businesses can restrict access to certain websites, and with VPNs, businesses can also blacklist specific websites. 

When we look at the differences between the two technologies, the most crucial difference is encryption. While using a VPN, all user-generated traffic is encrypted, but proxies don’t provide encryption for the data in transit. Secondly, proxies work on the application level, while VPNs work at the operating system layer. Meaning that businesses need to set up proxies for every application and service they use. But, individual integration isn’t required for VPNs as they cover all incoming and outgoing traffic. 

Another difference is that proxies might be faster and provide better bandwidth than VPNs as they don’t encrypt all ingoing and outgoing traffic. The last difference between them is that proxies generally offer free services to users, but most reliable VPNs are paid services. You can find free VPNs as well, but they lack security and have poor encryption. Paid VPNs are really affordable for businesses and they offer high-quality encryption, reliability, and anonymity. Also, reliable VPN providers don’t log your activities and don’t sell your data to third parties while free VPNs do. 

VPNs or Proxies: Which is The Right Choice For Your Business? 

VPNs and proxies have their own use cases, and choosing the right solution depends on your organization’s needs and purposes. For instance, if you want to anonymize your location, and access geo-restricted content or block access to certain websites, then proxies can be a good fit. But, if you want better privacy, watertight data encryption, and protection, then VPNs are a better fit.

Also, VPNs include similar features with proxies, and in this high-risk involving digital landscape, moving forward with VPNs makes more sense. Because while using proxies the data you send is always vulnerable to attacks. Simply, VPNs include more built-in security features while proxies lack built-in security features. On top of these, proxy providers can log your activities and sell to third parties for marketing purposes, but this won’t happen while using a paid reliable VPN service. For these reasons, using a VPN is the right choice for businesses. 

Last Remarks 

In today’s world, cyber crimes escalate dramatically. To handle the increasing threats, businesses consider using VPNs and proxies. Although both technologies share similar functions, there are distinctive features between them. In light of these differences, VPNs are more suitable for businesses.

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