Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Data that is sent over the internet makes its way through millions upon millions of connections. At each point of connection through the data’s journey, it is vulnerable to disruption or attack. There are then millions of chances for a user’s connection to be compromised before it gets to its destination. And then there are again millions of chances when data is sent back in response. Users need a more secure, anonymous and private way that can give them reliable access to the internet. uProxy is a joint project of Brave New Software and the University of Washington that aims to boost internet privacy and security.
What is uProxy?
uProxy is an extension for web browsers that allows users and trusted contacts create their own secure pathways through the internet. Currently this browser extension is being developed for Chrome and Firefox. The idea is that with uProxy installed, people sharing information can rest assured that the data is accessed only by authorized parties. It is a safer, private connection. It works much like a VPN connection in that it protects data as it is sent through the internet. uProxy helps users protect each other from third parties like two people on a VPN connection would be protected.
How Safe is the Route Your Data Takes through the Internet?
Some of the time, data moves safely through the internet. But internet providers and WiFi hotspots are not as safe as we would like them to be. Sometimes, even our office and home connections are vulnerable to attack.
One out of every three people who live in countries where internet is restricted face severe data privacy issues. Freedom of expression is restricted and these people cannot surf without having corrupt or repressive groups monitoring and controlling their Internet. These people are subject to internet censorship, surveillance, and misdirection. Every time one of these user’s visits a website, or uses a messaging service, or reads email, his or her connection can travel from a computer to a WiFi hotspot, to an Internet service provider, then to an international gateway before reaching the destination website. At every step, there are a bunch of people watching and following that user to see what he or she is doing.
Why Use uProxy?
Everyone around the world is threatened by privacy breaches and data theft every time they use the internet. Whether it is hackers, data brokers, online criminals or government agencies, people are not safe from prying eyes. At each step, the connection may be blocked, surveilled or misdirected. uProxy allows users to share a trusted pathway to get safer, more private and more reliable access. By using the uProxy connection, the friend’s internet connection is first routed through the user’s computer. This way, it helps prevent attacks on the friend’s as well as the user’s internet connection.
Additional Paid VPN Protection Needed
uProxy protection only works if the user’s connection is completely secure. With the news about SOHO router vulnerabilities and other home connection vulnerabilities, security can be breached. Also, uProxy sends invitations through chat and messaging applications which may also be compromised. Using a paid VPN service to protect the user’s connection and all internet based messaging services is a good idea. The paid VPN will secure all data transfers from the user’s computer, including the invite send through messaging services. uProxy does have the feature of message security that a paid VPN can provide, but it is limited to that specific function. A paid VPN can protect all internet data and does not leave any holes that experienced hackers and snoopers can manipulate. uProxy can help with website censorship and location restrictions on content, but it does not secure the user’s connection from snooping.
Yes, uProxy traffic is encrypted, but when the communication is routed from sender to recipient, uProxy does not provide IP addresses security. A paid VPN service will safely route the data through a VPN server that will give the sender an alternate IP address that is untraceable. This protects the user even when someone might be snooping on the other end. And since the communication is routed through the first user’s computer, the connection can be manipulated and used for illegal purposes. This puts the blame on the user. Paid VPN connections protect users from this connection manipulation.
With uProxy, a user depends on the safety of the other user he or she is communicating with, and vice versa. Users who trust each other can share and communicate safely. But a paid VPN will guarantee your anonymity no matter who is on the other end of the connection. The emphasis is on paid VPN services because free VPNs are often not as secure, especially when it comes to user data privacy. They are often no better than public IP proxy services. Read more about the dangers here.
uProxy is not yet available to the public, but is in a limited release to trusted testers. In a few months, the program will be rolled out to more users who can apply by going to http://uproxy.org/#join. Testers should remember, however, that uProxy can protect web traffic, but not any other kind of data that you send over the internet.