There are dangers of data security breaches and identity theft that are actually posed by high usage of internet. This is where a server proxy comes into the picture. For those who are wondering what is a proxy server? What is the importance of proxy server? What are the advantages of a proxy server? I will be explaining further about these topics.
Proxy Server Definition
A proxy server is a server (computer system application) that acts as an intermediary for request from clients seeking resources or information from another server. A proxy server can reside on the user’s computer or at any point between the user’s computer and the destination server.
Thus when you use a proxy server, the data will not flow between your PC to a server, however, the internet traffic would flow through the proxy server on its way to the address that you requested.
There is a modern proxy server which does not only act as a filter, however, it served as a firewall and web filter, cache data and provide shared network connections.
There are a couple of types of proxy server:
- Open Proxy
An open proxy is a forwarding proxy that is accessible by any of the internet users. There are thousands of open proxies that exist on the internet. Anonymous open proxy allows users to conceal their IP address while browsing through the internet.
- Reverse Proxy
A reverse proxy is a proxy server that appears to clients as an ordinary server. Reverse proxies’ forward requests to one or more than one ordinary server to handle the request. The response will later be returned as if it came directly from the server itself.
Aside from differentiation proxy based on the method that it uses to conceal original request, there are various degrees of anonymity that the proxies provide:
- Anonymous Proxy, reveals its identity as a server however does not disclose the initial IP address.
- Transparent Proxy is a proxy that identifies itself and let the other server know its IP address.
- Distorting Proxy. This proxy passes along a false IP address automatically for its users while identifying itself as a proxy.
- High Anonymity Proxy, automatically changes the IP address that is being presented to the webserver. It makes it difficult to track the owner of the traffic.
Why do you need to use proxy address?
The main usage of a proxy server is to hide the true IP address. There are several reasons why an individual would prefer to hide their IP address. Those are:
- Improving online security
Users are able to configure the proxy server to encrypt all of the web requests to any parties who wish to obtain that information. A proxy server can prevent malware that is obtained while accessing several webpages.
This is also the reason a lot of businesses prefer to use a proxy server. Companies would like to minimize the chance of a data breach, by adding an extra layer between the company’s server and external traffic. It can also protect the company against another company’s spy, or any other attempt to access data that are stored in the company’s server.
- To protect confidential information that is stored in the computer.
Individuals and organizations use proxy servers to browse the internet more privately. Some proxy server changes the IP address and any other identifying information which are requested by the web.
- Monitoring and filtering.
This type of proxy server is commonly used in both commercial and non-commercial organizations to ensure that the internet user abides by the usage policy. Content filtering proxy will support the user’s authentication to control web access. It produces logs, in which detailed URL that is accessed is given. It can also monitor bandwidth usage statistics.
Companies are motivated to keep the effectiveness of their employees would prefer to curb their access to certain websites.
- The user’s need to reduce traffic consumption.
The caching proxy server accelerates its performance by retrieving content that is saved based on the previous usage. Thus, data that is received from the network will be transferred to the users in a much more compact form. This hugely reduces the upstream bandwidth usage and cost.
- To bypass filters and censorship
On the contrary, proxy servers can also be used to bypass filters and censorship. If the filters and censorship are based on geographical location, the proxy server will change the IP address of the PC into a geographical location of your choosing.
On the contrary, there are also risks that are posed while a user uses a proxy server:
- Free Proxy Server
A free proxy server simply means that the company or web provider did not invest in a backend data encryption. Some of the free services are also a scam of hijackers to be able to obtain users private data.
- Browsing History Log
By entrusting the user’s log data to a third party vendor, there is a risk that the third party would be able to sell the users data other foreign parties.
- No encryption
There are several proxy servers which did not encrypt the user’s data. This means the data that are sent between servers are plain and accessible to any parties which want to pull or see the data.
The usage of a proxy server comes with its own set of pro and cons. However, it is indeed beneficial both as a user or as a business owner to use proxy servers.