Honey pots - the dangers of open proxies!
I remember a time when open proxies, especially foreign open proxies outside the US were all the rage. Open proxies that allowed https or "elite proxies" as they are called were always in high demand. The question is just how safe are they and what are the dangers of open proxies.
First off, lets understand what a web proxy does. You configure your browser for a proxy then each request you make for a websites page goes through the proxy. the proxy then sends that request to the intended website and sends that page back to you. Lets take it a step further, lets say you go through that proxy to a pay site and sign up for a service and use a credit card. If that proxy is malicious, and logging your data, you just gave whoever is running the proxy all your personal information, credit card information and details of what you purchased.
Its not a far fetched idea for a hacker, or law enforcement agency to set up a proxy, leave the access wide open then "watch" all the traffic that passes through it. Sourceforge wrote a very detailed article on just that back in 2004 in the heyday of open proxies and wingates, you can read that article here. They even setup an open web proxy and made it visible on the internet to see what kind of traffic they generated.
Often, a proxy server is open because it has not been configured properly. Most of open proxy servers are not supposed to be public. The person that configured the server was not aware of the potential problems and security risks. It is very common to for a novice administrator to set up a proxy with access rights that allow anyone to connect. To close a proxy server it is necessary to force users to connect from one IP address or a range of IP addresses. An alternative is to require users to use a user name and password.
When you use an open proxy server, your computer is making a direct connection to another computer. You do not know who is in control of the remote computer. If you are using proxy servers from open proxy lists, you could be trusting your email messages, passwords or other sensitive information to a person running the server. Someone can be watching the unencrypted information you are transferring over the network.
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