affect everyone from ordinary people like you and me to multi-billion-dollar corporate giants. We all may think about what could save us from cyberattacks if the business-world mammoths can’t be saved. Well, staying protected in the digital world isn’t nuclear science, and small steps such as using a VPN or proxy server can increase your online safety by many folds. Cyberattacks If you’re on the path of starting to use a VPN or proxy and are confused about which one to choose, then today we’re here to give you a better understanding of their differences. Which is Easier to Use: Proxy or VPN? Let’s start first with the installation and configuration of VPN and proxies. Modern-day VPN solutions are pretty straightforward and have become more of a ready-to-use tool directly after installation. You can get official applications for all popular desktop and mobile operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, Android, iOS, etc., as well as for popular web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, etc. VPN extensions Even though there are no installations needed to use a proxy, configuring proxy servers requires some manual steps, which may be different based on the device and operating system of the device. Another important point to note would be switching your VPN or proxy from one device to another. To migrate your VPN to a new device, all you would have to do is install the application on your device. However, to move your proxy to the new device, you’ll have to migrate the configurations manually. Proxy vs VPN: Which One Offers Better Functionality? In the case of a VPN or a proxy, there exists an intermediary server between your device and the destination (i.e., the website/app you’re trying to access). The main objective of a proxy server is to mask your internet traffic. So, the intermediary server does the job of masking identifiable information such as your IP address, geolocation, etc. One major issue with proxies is that your internet traffic data, which now gets routed through the intermediary proxy server, is visible to anyone who has access to the proxy server. On the other hand, when you’re using a VPN, there is a “tunnel” that’s created between your device and the VPN server. The data passes from your device through this tunnel to the VPN server in an encrypted format, which is then decrypted within the VPN server and securely transmitted to the destination that you’re trying to access. As you can guess already, the benefit of VPN here is that as the data is encrypted, hackers cannot snoop into your data either mid-transit to the VPN server or from within the VPN server itself, as decryption is impossible without the key used for encryption. Proxy vs VPN: What are the Encryption Techniques Used? Even though we mentioned that proxies don’t use any data encryption techniques in most cases, there are other encryptions that proxy servers utilize to ensure security during data transfer. Below are some of the commonly used encryption techniques by proxy servers. ● SOCKS5 is a very common security protocol utilized by proxy servers. This protocol is implemented at layer 4 (transport layer) of the OSI (Open System Interconnection) model. The main benefit of using SOCKS5 is that it requires the client to authenticate the proxy server before a communication is established. Moreover, this protocol supports both TCP and UDP connections and also has support for both IPv4 and IPv6. SOCKS5 (Socket Secure 5): ● HTTPS is another commonly used protocol that helps in securing the connection between the device and the proxy server. With an HTTPS connection enabled/established, the request/response data are encrypted hence allowing to maintain security and privacy while browsing the web. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure): ● Similar to HTTPS, SSL and TLS are two other cryptographic algorithms utilized to ensure that the data transmission of data between the source and a destination remains encrypted and secure. TLS is basically the successor to the SSL protocol, however, it’s backward compatible as well. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)/TLS (Transport Layer Security): Protocols such as , SSL/TLS, etc. are also utilized by VPN services to provide data protection. Apart from those, below are some of the data tunneling encryption techniques that are commonly seen with VPNs. HTTPS ● In symmetric encryption, a secret key is generated and is confidentially shared between the sender and the receiver. The message being transmitted is then encrypted using the secure key by the sender, whereas the receiver can use the same shared key to decrypt the message on their end. AES-128 and AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard) are two of the commonly used symmetric encryption algorithms for VPN services. Symmetric Encryption: ● In the asymmetric encryption technique, a key pair is generated, called a public key and a private key. Even though they are linked to each other mathematically, they cannot be derived from one another. Only the sender will have access to the public key, which is used to encrypt the data. Meanwhile, only the receiver will have the private key, and the data can only be decrypted using the private key. Even though asymmetric encryption isn’t very common in the VPN space, some service providers do utilize it. A few of the popular asymmetric encryption algorithms are Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA), Diffie-Hellman (DH), and Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA). Asymmetric Encryption: ● IPsec is another protocol that aims to secure the IP network through which the data communication happens. IPsec is usually used in combination with encryption algorithms as discussed above, to ensure that the confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of the data being sent and received is maintained throughout the length of the communication. IPsec (Internet Protocol Security): One important point to keep in mind is that out of all the techniques mentioned above, the actual ones being implemented will vary depending on the proxy or VPN service provider you opt for. Proxy vs VPN: Which One Should You Choose? Simply put, proxy servers are best in cases where your expectation is just to have your IP address and geolocation masked. Some use cases include when you’re trying to access a game through a server in a different geolocation, trying to access OTT content that’s unavailable in your country, etc. Moreover, proxy servers mostly work only on the application level and do not protect all the internet traffic. Also, as the expectation from a proxy server is limited, so is usually the actual cost involved with using a proxy. You can find several free-to-use proxies out there as well. With VPN services, your entire internet traffic is tunneled and protected once you enable the VPN. Even though VPN services are usually pricier, the added features such as complete data encryption, a no-logging policy for your browsing data, etc. make it more convenient and hassle-free to use.