The Good the Bad and the Proxy

Hello All,
*(There are two main parts to this post and I am fully aware that they contradict each other.  First Part: Discuss the dangers of free proxies.  Second Part:  How to automatically obtain a list of hundred of free proxies. )

The topic for today is Proxy Servers, specifically shady "free" ones.  For those who are not totally familiar with what a proxy is or what it can be used for.  A proxy acts like a middle man between you(your machine) and your destination(a website, or some hosted application). 
Without a proxy, which is how most of us surf the internet, you open your browser type the address in and you are taken to the site you asked for.  Behind the scenes there is a lot going on, specifically what we are narrowing in on is that the website knows where the visit came from.

If anonymity is important to you then you may want to send your internet traffic through a proxy. 

Here is how it works:

If I am living in a city in Alberta Canada and want to access a website, but I would like to hide the fact that the originating website request was made from Alberta I could send my request to a proxy in Mexico which would then forward the request to the desired website.  The desired website would receive the request however it would not see Alberta Canada as the originator it would see Mexico.  It would then send the appropriate HTTP packet back along its way to Mexico which then sends it to me in Alberta.

Here is where the benefit and problem occur.  Yes I hid my location, that was the desired result.  However it comes at a cost.  Since the traffic is passing through a middle man, what's to stop the middle man from modifying the data in some fashion?  For that matter how do I know for sure that the traffic that I am receiving back has not been altered in some way?

What is there to gain from offering free proxies?  Maybe the folks serving the free proxies have a contract with some advertiser and are able to modify the ads you see on the website that is fed back to you?  Nothing is free.

Like everything in security you have to measure your risks.  While researching for this post I was wrestling with the idea of how to collect free proxies.  So I found a way.  Utilizing Python one can scrape websites offering free proxies.

Below is a snippet of the free proxies you can get with my script (Run June 5, 2020 17:17). 
These are just a few of the 600 you can get.  You can find a copy of the script under my Projects page. : 50491 --- Thailand --- 1 minute ago : 37359 --- Dominican Republic --- 1 minute ago : 35330 --- United States --- 1 minute ago : 61153 --- Thailand --- 1 minute ago : 57677 --- India --- 1 minute ago : 8080 --- Russian Federation --- 1 minute ago : 56193 --- Austria --- 1 minute ago : 33746 --- Palestinian Territory --- 1 minute ago : 35101 --- India --- 1 minute ago : 53281 --- Russian Federation --- 1 minute ago : 80 --- Russian Federation --- 1 minute ago : 8080 --- United States --- 1 minute ago

Obviously you need to understand the risks of utilizing free proxies.  Be careful.

Andrew Campbell

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