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Staying Under the Radar: How Residential Proxies Can Protect Your Data

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Proxies Can Protect Your Data
Your phone rings with an unknown number. Many people don't answer calls from numbers not in their contacts, as they could be spam calls from telemarketers or scammers. While ignoring such calls is often the best policy, some may be tempted to answer just to vent frustration or play a prank. However, it's risky to engage at all, as scammers may try to elicit personal information.

How do these callers get your number and name? Marketing companies do legitimately purchase phone lists, but they can only call you legally if you opted-in to receiving sales offers. Unfortunately, scammers don't follow these rules. They often use autodialers to call random numbers, hoping to find live targets. Or they may obtain personal data from illegal sources.

Once more the data breach

Accordingly, most phone number lists are obtained illegally by hackers, and sold on to neo-legitimate companies that aren’t too worried about the source and provenance of their leads. It happens a lot. 

For example, in November 2022 a major Australian telecoms company contacted its customers telling them of a data breach that had made available thousands of customer contact details to hackers. Those names, addresses, phone numbers, and perhaps even passwords are sold on by hackers to the highest bidder and the next thing you know, your phone is alive with nuisance calls from ambulance chasers and financial scammers.

There’s very little that individuals can do about this, aside from choosing a well-established telecoms provider. But companies can beef up their security considerably by taking sensible precautions that are often overlooked. 

It’s all very well having industry-standard encryption on your databases, but one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of ensuring that a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) doesn’t get hacked is simply by lying under the radar. 

If hackers can’t find you, they can’t hack you – and many SMEs hide in plain sight by using a residential IP proxy. These proxy servers act as a very efficient way of cloaking a business by making their IP address appear as if their internet connection was simply a family home with a router in the living room.

A town like Alice

In order to understand how a residential proxy works, it’s important to know the differences between commercially-based ‘data center’ servers and domestic servers used by internet service providers (ISPs).

The former are more expensive than domestic servers as they are designed to handle much higher data traffic. If you’re a company running an international ecommerce business, you’d expect a lot more data transmission than if you’re a crafter selling two or three crocheted draught excluders each week on Etsy.

Not only are data center servers designed to handle more traffic, but they also guarantee much higher uptimes (i.e. fewer outages) than servers used to cater for family homes where people are just web-surfing and sending MS Word documents and the like.

Using a residential proxy server simply means that a business can rent one or more servers from a provider, whereby the IP addresses are indicated as residential. If a hacker was looking to steal a customer database from an Australian international telecoms company, they’d be unlikely to attack a server indicated by its IP address to be a Macbook located in a sleepy residential suburb of Alice Springs.

There are other significant advantages of businesses using residential proxies, because those proxies can mask activities that the business might prefer to go unnoticed. One such practice is known as ‘web scraping’.

Scraping the Whole of the Barrel – Not Just the Bottom.

Web scraping isn’t illegal under criminal law anywhere in the world, but it’s an activity that almost certainly will be in contravention of any commercial website’s terms and conditions (T&Cs). Scraping is simply an automated way of a software bot crawling through a large website and downloading the entire contents in a form that can easily be exported to spreadsheets.

For example, a website like will be offering hotel rooms at specific locations on specific dates at a given price. A competitor of any of the given hotel chains might want to know exactly how much is charging as a like-for-like comparison. That competitor might use a bot to download hundreds or thousands of dates, locations, and prices for marketing and business intelligence purposes.

Web scraping is legal in most countries as long as the data being scraped is publicly available and the scraping activity does not harm the website being scraped. However, there are some exceptions. For example, in the United States, it is illegal to scrape personal data without the consent of the person whose data is being scraped. 

Additionally, some websites have terms of service that prohibit web scraping. If you are considering scraping a website, it is important to read the terms of service carefully to make sure that you are not violating them.

Indeed, just take a quick look at’s Terms & Conditions which clearly state:

 "You’re not allowed to monitor, copy, scrape/crawl, download, reproduce or otherwise use anything on our Platform for any commercial purpose without written permission of or its licensors."

Here are some general guidelines for ethical web scraping:

  • Only scrape publicly available data.
  • Do not scrape data that is protected by copyright or other intellectual property laws.
  • Do not scrape data that is confidential or personal.
  • Do not scrape data at a rate that will overload the website.
  • Respect the terms of service of the website being scraped.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be less likely to run into legal problems with web scraping.

Here are some specific examples of situations where web scraping may be illegal:

  • Scraping personal data without the consent of the person whose data is being scraped.
  • Scraping data that is protected by copyright or other intellectual property laws.
  • Scraping data that is confidential or personal.
  • Scraping data at a rate that will overload the website.
  • Scraping data in violation of the terms of service of the website being scraped.

It is important to note that the legality of web scraping can change over time, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations. If you are unsure whether or not your web scraping activities are legal, it is always best to consult with a legal team.

However, scrapers are often detected through high activity via commercial data-center IP addresses. If a bot is operated via a residential proxy, the detection algorithms tend to ‘think’ that the scraper is nothing more than a very busy private citizen looking to book a stag party somewhere!

In the final analysis, businesses have a duty to safeguard their customers’ data, and one way they can do so effectively is to use a pool of residential proxy servers.  The problem from the concerned customer’s point of view is finding out if the company does so, as they’re very unlikely to tell you.

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