What is a Proxy?

A proxy server is a virtual barrier meant to filter and protect computer servers from other servers and networks. Proxies are intermediaries established to vet and secure a computer’s information as it processes requests while a user surfs the web. In an era where internet usage has become a large part of day-to-day behavior, proxies fundamentally allow users to engage and participate online with the level of reassurance that their information is not being shared with other sites or networks they visit. Proxies also have the capabilities to enhance the proficiency of web browsing by saving existing information based on online behaviors that create a more efficient web browsing experience. Through an established system of filters, proxies have the means to alert users of requests that can potentially take them to unsecured and vulnerable sites. There are various types of proxies, each with their unique set of characteristics, to achieve different objectives. 

 

Why Use a Proxy?

This filtering system is essentially the middle ground between an exchange of vital and secure information. Based on the user’s objective, they can interact online as they desire with the proxy that suits their needs. 

 

  • Security: Proxies are designed to swiftly sift through requests and information between servers. A large part of this benefit is to provide security to users to restrict and protect their information as they engage such as hiding information like a user’s IP address. Proxies can also be designed to enable specific types of content and resources to be allowed within a server. This type of protection can be suitable for families and schools allowing for appropriate internet use. 
  • Timesaving: Certain proxies can allow the user an enhanced and efficient experience online. With proxies saving information such as logins, searches, and so on, it maximizes the user’s time online and avoids the unnecessary repetition of data usage. 
  • Ideal for Businesses: Organizations that wish to improve productivity can establish proxy servers that eliminate access to websites that can lead to distraction. These servers have the ability to block time-wasting applications. 

Types of Proxy Servers

As a user engages online, a proxy will act on behalf of the user to filter and handle the requests sent from one server to another. While this is the basic functionality of a proxy, the various forms of these servers can overall improve the users experience and purpose behind their online activity.

  • Web Proxy: This type of proxy is designed to protect the IP addresses of users as they seek information or resources from an external server. The proxy then processes the request by the user, retrieves the information requested and provides the user with the content while protecting the user’s information. 
  • Caching Proxy: A caching proxy allows for a user’s internet presence to be accelerated. By saving content of frequented online behaviors, the proxy is able to speed up requests between servers maximizing time, data usage and efficiency. 
  • High Anonymity Proxy: While there are temporary proxies that allow a certain amount of anonymity, a high anonymity proxy has the capability to completely hide one’s IP address from servers. This type of high functioning anonymity serves organizations that carry extremely sensitive data and can’t afford for information to be leaked or shared to unwanted servers. 

 

A proxy is an intermediary that acts as both a server and a client for the purpose of retrieving resources or resource manifestations on behalf of other clients. Clients using a proxy know the proxy is present and that it is an intermediary.

Examples: An HTTP firewall proxy …