Free Anonymous Proxy Lists in 2009

My regular readers will now that I am not a big fan of free anonymous proxy lists and I suspect they will get more dangerous in 2009 than ever before. I think anonymous proxies have a part to play in internet privacy and security but they are increasingly being used by identity thieves to steal personal data.
Sure an anonymous proxy will block your IP address from appearing in the web servers logs but that’s about it. But think of how we transmit data on the internet and what an anonymous proxy actually does.
The majority of our browsing takes place using HTTP which is the Hyper Text Transport Protocol. This is a fantastic little lightweight protocol that is ideally suited to fast communication and transfer of text and graphics. Unfortunately although its fast and efficient, HTTP is not the most secure protocol, in fact there is no real concept of security. So unless we are using SSL then all our browsing is actually very easy to intercept and read.

A proxy acts as a middle man for your communication, each web request gets sent to the proxy and then forwarded to the web server. The reply is received by the proxy and sent back to you – the web server knows nothing about you but the proxy sees every little piece of information you send and receive.

Anonymous 2009 proxies

How secure are they? Well this varies wildly, there are some extremely well run proxies which are fast and extremely secure unfortunately you’ll rarely find them on the endless ‘latest 2009 proxy lists”. That is mainly because as soon as any proxy appears on those lists it will be swamped with users and will run at a very slow speed. As such the servers that end up on these lists will normally be compromised, misconfigured or servers specifically put there to capture users data.

Think of the value of your personal data, it does have value – identity thieves can use your data to empty bank accounts, order goods or credit cards in your name and abuse lots. All the information they need can be extracted from a browsing session, the value is high but why target individual users and break into individual machines when you can get users to send data directly to you.

To an Identity Thief, an anonymous proxy is a veritable gold mine. Thousands of users all sending their unencrypted clear text data via a single proxy server. No need to search, hack or intercept because the users send you their personal details, just log it and abuse it.

This is not some made up tale to scare people away from free anonymous proxies in 2009. If you know who runs a proxy and trust them, then fine you will get another layer of anonymity. If you don’t you are taking an incredible risk with your personal details. Many, many of these proxies have been compromised and they’re just waiting for you to send them your identity.