Network bandwidth-sharing applications, also known as “proxyware,” can pose grave security and legal risks to their users.
As security company Trend Micro explains in a report published recently, several prominent proxyware platforms that turn people’s computers into residential IP proxies for others to use do not generate income for the donors but for the developers.
Additionally, in many cases, they might expose users to malware infections and even put them in legal trouble due to someone using their IPs for illegal purposes.
Unfortunately, these proxyware platforms are promoted by many famous YouTubers and bloggers who don’t perform code vetting or process scrutiny, hence sending their audience to risky platforms.
Users of network bandwidth-sharing platforms are asked to download a client app and then let it run in the background at all times, giving away available bandwidth or sometimes processing resources to those in need while passing traffic through the user’s IP address.
Home page of Honeygain, a popular network bandwidth sharing platform
Residential IPs are valuable for routing network requests because they are considered trustworthy by network security tools that treat traffic originating from them as genuine. Datacenter IPs, on the other hand, often facilitate bot traffic and quickly find their place in blocklists.
Users sharing their connections get credits which can be exchanged for discounts on affiliated platforms or exchanged with cryptocurrency or fiat money.
In theory, it is a win-win situation, helping people make the most of their available bandwidth without getting charged extra