A proxy is a server that operates as a gateway between the user and the internet. Proxies are used to strengthen security, increase privacy, bypass filters and censorship, and speed up web access through caching.
It is used to keep cyber attackers out of a private network and to ensure network security. A proxy server can be set as a web filter or firewall to protect the computer from viruses and other internet risks. In this article, we will look at the many types of proxy servers, how they may be used to increase security and privacy, and their benefits for organizations.
Proxy Servers and Network Security
A proxy server is an internet-connected computer with an IP address. When a computer connects to the internet, it is issued an IP address, which allows incoming and outgoing data to be properly routed. The proxy server acts as a link between the computer and the internet, redirecting data as necessary.
A proxy server is especially useful when combined with a Secure Web Gateway (SWG) or email security products. It may be used to filter data based on the desired level of security or network capacity. This can be valuable for large businesses that need to balance internet traffic, offload the network, and prevent failures.
How a Proxy Server Works
A proxy server routes data between the PC and the internet. Any internet request from a specific device inside the network is routed through the proxy server first. After then, the proxy server delivers the data to the web server, waits for a response, and then sends the data back to the device.
How to Connect a Proxy Server to Your Network?
A proxy server can connect to your network using hardware and software. Hardware solutions are meant to be deployed as separate equipment between a specific network and the internet. Usually, software proxies are hosted by an ISP or in the cloud. Simply download and install the required application on your computer to use a software proxy.
Software proxies are generally paid, while free ones usually offer fewer options and may be mixed with advertising. However, for a small network, even free solutions may suffice. A premium solution may be required if you want high speed or have many devices on your network.
How a Proxy Server Provides Privacy and Protects Data?
The proxy server serves as both a firewall and a filter. The end-user or network administrator can choose the needed proxy server scenario. A proxy filters incoming and outgoing traffic and conceals network device IP addresses from prying eyes. Potential attackers will only be able to view the proxy server’s IP address, making access to personal data and other assets impossible.
Encrypted proxy servers can give an extra degree of security. Passwords and other personal information on the network will be kept as secure as possible.
Benefits of a Proxy Server for Business
Proxies have several advantages that can be useful for organizing large networks.
- Increased security: A proxy can act as a firewall, effectively protecting network devices from attackers. This implies that potential attackers will be unable to immediately access the IP addresses of network devices, making access to personal data and other files more difficult.
- Complete privacy: A proxy server will assist you in avoiding the collection of data on employee IP addresses and, as a result, blocking unwanted advertisements. This can preserve employees’ privacy and guarantee that their personal information is not collected or shared without permission.
- Change of location: When configuring a proxy server, you may choose the country in which it will be located. This might be handy for companies who need to access restricted or prohibited content in particular countries.
- Blocking unwanted sites: It is possible to use a proxy to restrict access to websites that violate the organization’s standards or simply to distract employees from important tasks. Social networks, for example, can be banned to boost productivity and eliminate distractions.
- Offloading traffic: A proxy server can assist in balancing internet traffic, offloading the network, and reducing failures. This is especially crucial for businesses with a high traffic volume since it helps keep the network stable and reliable.
- Save bandwidth: Proxies can cache files or compress incoming traffic, saving bandwidth. This is especially handy for businesses with limited bandwidth or seeking to reduce costs.
- Different Types of Proxy:
- Direct proxy: Located between the internet and the end user, this type of proxy is best suited when a single point of entry is required for all network devices and allows direct administrative control.
- Transparent proxy: Suitable for businesses that wish to use it discreetly, delivers a flawless user experience, but is more vulnerable to certain security concerns.
- Anonymous proxy: Tries to conceal the user’s identity and computer information to make internet activity untraceable. It increases anonymity by removing personal information before connecting to the target site.
- Distorting proxy: Does not disguise the fact that data is being redirected through the proxy from websites but instead utilizes a spoofed IP address.
- Server proxies: A third-party service located in physical data centres that redirects all user queries via them.
- Residential proxy: Capable of providing a IP address associated with a specific physical device and redirecting all traffic through it.
- Public proxy: Offers users a spoofed IP address and covers their identity when viewing websites for free, although usually with ads.
- Shared proxy: Includes using a proxy server by several users simultaneously; it is low cost but slow and poses security concerns.
- SSL proxy: Provides great security by encrypting data on both sides and concealing its existence from both the client and the server.
- Rotary proxy: Gives a unique IP address to each user who connects to the server, making it excellent for web scraping.
- Reverse proxy: Situated between the internet and the desired resource’s web servers, intercepts user requests before forwarding them to the web server. It helps decrease hardware load but may expose the HTTP server.
VPN or Proxy: Which One is Better?
A proxy server and a VPN both route traffic through an external server, although they serve distinct purposes. A proxy server is used to hide a user’s IP address and bypass website geographical restrictions. A VPN, on the other hand, encrypts all communication between the user’s device and the VPN server, increasing protection against hackers and other malicious actors. A VPN may also be used to access prohibited websites. Still, it also adds an extra degree of protection and privacy by establishing an encrypted tunnel between the user’s device and the VPN server. It is also possible to simultaneously utilize a proxy server and VPN for extra security.
In short, a proxy server serves as an intermediary between a computer or network and the internet. It can be configured as a web filter or firewall to protect against internet threats. It can also be used to improve network security, protect employee internet activity from being monitored, balance internet traffic, control employee access to specific sites, and save bandwidth by caching files or compressing incoming traffic.
Ultimately, using a proxy server may give many advantages for personal and business usage, such as greater security, privacy, and control over internet access.