How to Use Proxy Extensions and Proxy Switchers
In a world where hackers lurk around every corner and cyber criminals want to make you their prey, where can you turn? … If you read this line in the voice of a grave movie announcer, you’ve got the tone right — cyber crime can impact us all, and it can be downright scary.
The online world has much goodness to offer, but the stuff of blockbuster thriller films awaits us there, too. Thankfully, there are layers of security we can add to our browsing experience to protect our confidential and sensitive data from easily falling into the wrong hands.
Proxy servers, proxy extensions, and proxy switchers are just several of the easy-to-use options to help you secure your online activity.
Why proxy servers are important
Proxy servers provide a way for you to search the Internet anonymously. Essentially, a proxy server acts as a go-between for your smart device. This allows you to have an anonymous online connection, as there’s no direct communication between your device and the Internet.
In other words, your IP address won’t be attached to your online activity — a stand-in IP address will appear if anyone tries to trace your search history or connect to your computer. Think of a proxy server as a sort of casual online bodyguard.
For example, if a cyber criminal wants to target you through your Internet activity and you’ve used a proxy server, your true identity is hidden and you can emerge from your online session unscathed.
Proxy servers can also detect online threats before they’ve hit your computer and let you block specific online content before it can hurt your device.
What is a proxy extension?
A proxy extension (also known as a browser extension) is similar to a virtual private network (VPN). NordVPN even explains a proxy extension as a “lightweight version of a VPN.” However, although a VPN can encrypt all information you receive and send online, a proxy extension does not encrypt your data. This tool acts as an add-on for your browser, and can help enhance its security features.
A proxy extension helps your online experience in the following ways:
- Blocks ads and popups. If an inundation of ads and popups causes you to feel an overwhelming sense of frustration, you’re not alone. A proxy extension helps to keep these ads from drowning out the content you’re viewing and prevents you from accidentally clicking on links.
- Changes your IP address. A proxy extension uses a proxy server for your online searches. Thus, your IP address doesn’t appear in any of your connections.
- Switch on and off. You can use a proxy extension when you’re searching unfamiliar websites and turn it off when it’s unnecessary. This is especially helpful if you need to connect to a geo-blocked website. For example, if you need information from a website in Japan, but your IP address is blocked due to your location, just switch on your proxy extension.
Why use a proxy extension
Since a proxy extension can be used for one online connection and turned off for another, it’s an easy tool to access. If you aren’t ready to commit to a VPN, a proxy extension is a great first step to understand how to hide your IP address.
How to choose a proxy extension
The proxy extensions you use can vary based on your browser. For example, if your primary search engine is Google Chrome, you have a selection of proxy extensions to choose from through Google add-ons. Currently, over 2.56 billion people use Chrome as their primary search engine, which creates the need for multiple available proxy extensions.
This also means you need to practice wisdom when choosing your extension as not all proxy extensions are created equal. It’s important that you’ve researched all available extensions before you make your selection. Some of the proxy features to look for include:
- Cost. Many of the best proxy extensions don’t require payment. Proceed with caution if you find a proxy application that you’ve never heard of, has minimal reviews, requires a download, and asks for billing information.
- Download requirements. Most proxy extensions on Chrome don’t require a download and you can simply add the tool onto your browser. However, if you’re using a browser like Firefox, you may be required to download the application.
- Positive and numerous user reviews. If an extension only has 5 online reviews, regardless of whether the reviews are positive or negative, it’s best to avoid this tool and look for a credible, more established proxy extension.
What is a proxy switcher?
A proxy switcher is a multi-browser add-on that allows you to use proxy extensions regardless of what browser you utilize. This tool also enables you to switch proxy browser extensions from your toolbar.
Simply select the proxy you’d like to use for your online search, and quickly switch to a different proxy when needed.
Free proxy extensions and switchers
The great news is, there are plenty of free proxy extensions and switchers available. You can even add these tools to your mobile server to increase your privacy when you’re scrolling through your smartphone.
Some of the best free proxy extensions and switchers include:
- Oxylabs Proxy Extension. Oxylabs Proxy Extension is both free and easy to use! The extension features a one click connection and the ability to switch between multiple proxies, among other exciting features.
- Bright Data. Although this proxy provider does offer a paid subscription tool, you can register and download a free trial to test out its proxy prowess. The free trial includes all proxy networks, SERP API, Web Scraper IDE, and Web Unlocker.
- Foxy Proxy. FoxyProxy is Mozilla’s featured, no-nonsense proxy switcher. It will automatically switch proxies for you based on URLs.
- BP Proxy Switcher. BP Proxy Switcher takes care of multiple proxies simultaneously and automatically rotates your proxy settings. You can use this tool with Google and Firefox.
- Proxy SwitchyOmega. This open-source software has over a million downloads from the Google Play Store, and can be added on as an extension from your Google toolbar.
In their various forms, proxies are a fantastic tool to have at your disposal. Many proxy extensions and proxy switchers are free to use, and can help protect you online.
For more free tools to help you enhance your cybersecurity, check out the What Is My IP Address website. You can also find the latest on online security trends and insights on how to protect yourself from cyber criminals on our blog.
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