The Dangers of YouTube Proxy Sites

Coming across a blocked YouTube video is a universal frustration - whether it’s an issue of geo-blocking, government censorship, or your school or organization’s policy. YouTube proxy websites promise a simple, quick, and free solution to the issue by hiding your IP address and allowing you access the video, but as your personal information will likely be unencrypted, your privacy is still very much at risk.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the dangers of using proxy sites and provide some alternatives that are not only safer, but more efficient.

What is a YouTube Proxy site?

Thanks to a rising awareness about our online privacy, and the fact that we live in an age where there’s never been more content to stream, proxies are gaining global traction as a way to circumvent censorship.

YouTube is one of the world’s most heavily restricted websites, being completely inaccessible in China, North Korea, Iran, and also frequently blocked in schools and universities. It's no surprise that those who come across restricted videos or find YouTube itself inaccessible would turn to a proxy site. Sometimes you really do just want to watch a video of a cat trying to fit into a box, after all.

Cat Squeezes Himself Into Box

Cat Squeezes Himself Into Box
Cat Squeezes Himself Into Box

Proxies are a popular “solution,” being relatively easy to set up and use across Mac, Windows, Android, and IOS. The end user doesn’t need to change their internet service provider (ISP) or download anything, and there are pages of free options readily available via a quick Google search.

In a sense, proxies do work, given that they target the user’s IP address - the very element that is used to block your access to YouTube.

Proxies mask your IP address and allow you to use theirs, rendering you anonymous to the third party platform you’re trying to access - in this case, YouTube. Your internet request is sent from you to your ISP, but from there would be sent to the proxy server before reaching its final destination, circumventing the censorship you’re facing.

However, the proxy server itself can still see your information.

The dangers of YouTube Proxy sites

Here’s where the huge pitfall of these dubious proxy websites really come into play, as they typically do not encrypt your internet connection.

The dangers are immediate and numerous. Being unencrypted, your information will be incredibly vulnerable, as criminals and the proxy owner (who may not be mutually exclusive) will see your data as it passes through the unsecured connection. This means that your usernames, passwords, payment details, and location could all be visible and at risk.

Cybercriminals wouldn’t need your consent to view and share this information as they see fit, and horribly, you wouldn’t notice if it was happening - unless a more malicious provider flooded your session with spam advertisements that can wreak havoc with just one accidental misclick.

Security researcher Christian Haschek also dug into the issue, writing a script where 443 open proxies were analyzed in order to discover if they provided encryption or modified site data. According to Haschek's results, a mere 21 percent of the proxies were suitably secure, and 79 percent of the proxies forbade HTTPS.

HTTPS is typically used by any website that requires you to login - think bank accounts, emails, and governmental sites - and can be identified by a padlock in the URL bar.

Being a more secure iteration of HTTP, HTTPS prevents snoopers from seeing your personal information by using encryption protocols to protect your communications. So, even if your details were intercepted, the crook in question would only see a string of jumbled characters.

With that in mind, it becomes glaringly apparent why proxy servers and sites that forbid these HTTPS protocols should be avoided.

How else can I unblock YouTube?

Fortunately, there is a far more secure method of unblocking YouTube using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). With a VPN, your information will be encrypted, and it’s strongly recommended that you check out some of these options instead of relying on proxy sites that can actually place you in danger, instead.

Using a VPN will grant you access to more YouTube videos than you could ever hope to watch. They’re so much more than a proxy, having miles more utility. And although they might seem a touch intimidating to first-time users, the security they provide is well worth investing in.

Similar to a proxy, a VPN will conceal your IP address by rerouting your traffic through a third party server. This means that your IP address and personal information are concealed, and blocked content is accessible via a connection to the secure VPN server.

What VON should I use for YouTube?

Below we have curated a list of the VPNs we recommend using when unblocking YouTube.

A paid VPN offers the most bang for your buck, as the monthly subscription ensures that the service need not stoop to selling its user traffic information or breaking encryption to push ads into your session. However, there are several free VPN services available that are worth checking out. Otherwise, check out our best YouTube VPNs for a more premium experience.

So, if you’re invested in your online security in addition to unblocking YouTube, a VPN is the better - and safer - bet.

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

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