Crossing a blocked YouTube video is universal frustration – whether it's a geo-blocking issue, government censorship, or the politics of your school or organization. YouTube proxy websites promise a simple, quick and free solution to the problem by hiding your IP address and allowing you to access video, but since your personal information is unlikely to be encrypted, your privacy is always at risk.
In this guide, we will look at the dangers of using proxy sites and suggest not only safer, but more effective alternatives.
What is a YouTube proxy site?
With increasing awareness of our online privacy and the fact that we live in an era where there has never been more content to distribute, proxies are gaining ground around the world as a means of circumventing censorship.
YouTube is one of the most restricted websites in the world, being completely inaccessible in China, North Korea, Iran, and also frequently blocked in schools and universities. It's no surprise that those who encounter restricted videos or find YouTube itself inaccessible are turning to a proxy site. Sometimes you really want to watch a video of a cat trying to get into a box, after all.
The cat is hugging in the box
Proxies are a popular “solution”, being relatively easy to install and use Mac, Windows, Android and IOS. The end user does not need to change Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or download anything, and free options pages are readily available through a quick Google search.
In a sense, proxies work because 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, making you anonymous on the third-party platform you are trying to access – in this case, YouTube. Your Internet request is sent by you to your ISP, but from there it would be sent to the proxy server before reaching its final destination, thereby bypassing the censorship you face.
However, the proxy server itself can still see your information.
The dangers of YouTube proxy sites
This is where the huge pitfall of these questionable proxy websites really comes in, as they don't usually encrypt your Internet connection.
The dangers are immediate and numerous. Unencrypted, your information will be incredibly vulnerable, as criminals and the proxy owner (who are not mutually exclusive) will see your data as it goes through the insecure connection. This means that your usernames, passwords, payment details and location could all be visible and threatened.
Lack of encryption means you won't even notice a cybercriminal stealing your data
Cybercriminals wouldn't need your consent to view and share this information as they see fit, and horribly, you wouldn't notice if it happened – unless a more malicious provider overwhelms your session with spam ads. that can wreak havoc with a single accidental click.
Security researcher Christian Haschek also digging into the problem, writing a script where 443 open proxies were scanned to find out if they were providing encryption or modified site data. According to Haschek's results, only 21% of proxies were adequately secure and 79% of proxies prohibited HTTPS.
HTTPS is generally used by any website that requires you to log in – think of bank accounts, emails, and government websites – and can be identified by a padlock in the URL bar.
Being a more secure iteration of HTTP, HTTPS prevents spies from seeing your personal information by using encryption protocols to protect your communications. So even if your details were intercepted, the scammer in question would only see a mixed character string.
With this in mind, it becomes obvious that proxy servers and sites that prohibit these HTTPS protocols should be avoided.
How else to unblock YouTube?
Fortunately, there is a much safer way to unblock YouTube using a virtual private network (VPN). With a VPN, your information will be encrypted, and it is highly recommended to check some of these options instead of relying on proxy sites that can put you at risk.
Using a VPN will allow you to access more YouTube videos than you could ever hope to watch. They are much more than a proxy, having miles of utility in addition. And while they may seem intimidating to new users, the security they offer is worth investing in.
Similar to a proxy, a VPN will hide your IP address by redirecting your traffic through a third-party server. This means that your IP address and personal information are hidden and that the blocked content is accessible via a connection to the secure VPN server.
Which VON should I use for YouTube?
Below, we've organized a list of VPNs that we recommend using to unblock YouTube.
A paid VPN offers the best value for money, because the monthly subscription guarantees that the service doesn't have to bend over to sell its user traffic information or break the encryption to push ads into your session. However, there are several free VPN services 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 best – and safest – bet.