unethical proxy sourcing
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Jurgita Tuzikaite

May 27, 2021 4 min read

Proxy-reliant companies have long been familiar with the benefits of residential proxies. However, very little is known about the risks of using unethical or even illegal proxies. Lack of knowledge on this matter is dangerous both for proxy network participants and companies using residential proxies.

The first thing businesses should do to protect themselves from risks is to understand that ethical proxy sourcing is not just a question of morality or fairness. There are real liabilities involved threatening the wellbeing or even survival of the company.

Vaidotas Šedys, Head of Risk at Oxylabs.
Vaidotas Šedys, Head of Risk at Oxylabs

Tier system 

Not all residential proxy acquisition practices are unsafe. In fact, at Oxylabs we have developed a categorization system that helps companies to identify quickly if their residential proxies pass the ethical bar. The tier system rates residential proxy sourcing methods based on their effect on the end-user (residential proxy network participant). But, we must not forget that companies using these proxies can be negatively affected too.

Read here for more information on each category. To learn where Oxylabs falls in these categories, consult our Residential Proxy Pool Handbook.

Risks of using unethically sourced proxies

The low-tier proxies, B and C, are the ones hiding all the risks.

Not only are their acquisition methods questionable both ethically and legally, but they are also more vulnerable to malicious actors targeting unaware proxy users.

This infographic details the major risks:

1. Harmed reputation

Companies engaging in corrupt data scraping practices can suffer irreparable damage to their brand and public perception from association with an unethical provider.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of issues concerning data use. Businesses connected to companies that engage in data-based cybercrime can suffer permanent damage in the form of lost sales, clients, and partnerships.

2. Data breach

Data fuels the internet, and hackers are always looking for opportunities to get their hands on it.

Low-quality proxies are particularly exposed to malicious actors, who can target unaware proxy users and access the information to their internet traffic. For example, during MITM “Man In The Middle” attack, companies can experience security breaches and leak sensitive information. 

3. Legal issues 

The use of unethically sourced proxies through illegal botnets can lead to legal issues, particularly in the case of class-action lawsuits. Should your company be found responsible for damages connected to those claims, you may be subjected to litigation and expensive legal fees.

4.  Financial damages

Using an unethical proxy provider can lead to more than just legal issues and class-action lawsuits. Companies found liable for damages connected to the use of an unethical proxy network can face fines that have serious financial consequences.

5. Unstable web scraping operations

On top of everything else, questionable origin proxies could compromise your business operations due to their instability, increased time-outs, and sensitivity to server bans. This can result in poorly executed web scraping operations that require increased time and resources to fix – often leading to additional costs in the long run.

Along with increased operational costs, stalled data extraction efforts caused by poorly performing proxies can compromise service agreements and harm relationships with clients.

How to avoid risks?

The only secure way to prevent these risks is to use 100% ethically sourced proxies. Since many companies are accessing them through a provider, due diligence procedures are a must.

One unbeatable advice I can give to companies looking for a proxy provider is this: always do your research. Check if the company is not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. Make sure to look into their media footprint, social proof, case studies, independent research, or even previous scandals.

Vaidotas Šedys, Head of Risk at Oxylabs.

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About Jurgita Tuzikaite

Jurgita Tuzikaite is a Communications Specialist at Oxylabs. Her inspiration for original ideas comes from observing nature and exploring unknown paths, which often lead to unexpected adventures. Jurgita’s background in humanitarian work has formed her work ethic and moral compass, which resulted in placing positive intention behind everything she does. She values wisdom and places importance on bringing value to other people through knowledge, creativity, and compassion.

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