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What is a Proxy Server?

What is a Proxy Server? A proxy server acts as a gateway between you and the internet. To learn more, have a look at the article below.

Posted: 26 Jul, 19 Updated: 20 Feb, 23 by Susith Nonis 9 Min

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What happens when you browse the web? You type an address on your browser, and within a few seconds (even less), you get the page you wanted. You might have used a proxy server to access the internet without your knowledge. In simple words, a proxy server works as a mediator server that separates users from a website they are accessing.  A proxy server is beneficial as it offers multiple features, so in this guide, we will cover complete details on the proxy server and how you can use it in your system. 

A proxy server is an intermediary server that separates you from the website you want to access. When using a proxy server, the internet traffic you initiate will flow through the proxy server to the destination. The destination website will send the results back to you through the proxy server (this doesn’t happen all the time). If being an intermediator is all the proxy does, why use it in the first place? Proxy servers provide different levels of security, functions, and privacy, depending on what you need. Modern proxy servers act as a firewall and web filter. It also caches data, increasing the common requests' speed.

All the computers connected to the internet have one thing in common. All these devices have an IP address. A proxy server also has its IP address which is known by your device. When you send a request to access a website, the request first goes to the proxy server, and then it goes to the site you requested. When it comes back, it comes down the same path through the proxy to you. The web server will change your IP when sending the request to the website but will still get you the requested details. This is done so that the web server won’t know where you are in the world. A proxy server can encrypt your data, so it will be useless if intercepted and also can block access to certain sites.

There are multiple types of Proxy servers available online so let's discuss the major type of proxy server used by most users. 

Transparent Proxy

This type of proxy is the simplest one as there is no privacy while passing the information with the proxy's IP address. When users use a transparent proxy, web servers get the IP address with the connected proxy status.  So transparent proxy is used for website filtering or any cache purposes instead of security reasons. 

Anonymous Proxy

As the name describes, Anonymous proxy works to hide the IP address from the web servers. If you are using this proxy server, the websites will get a fake IP address rather than the correct one.  However, some websites have anti anonymity options, meaning they will not allow you to visit them if you use an anonymous proxy and provide a fake IP address. 

High Anonymity Proxy

High anonymity proxy is one of the most secure proxies as it offers high privacy by altering the new IP address and doesn’t let any system understand that you are using a proxy.  High anonymity proxy used by TOR browser as the IP address changes rapidly and it becomes hard to track a user on a web server. 

Distorting Proxy

This Proxy is a bit similar to an anonymous proxy as it passes a fake IP address(false location and information) and identifies as a false proxy.  Distorting Proxy is beneficial for getting access around a particular content restriction, so it is similar to receiving an IP address you need for the Proxy you use for the work. 

  • Improve speed and save bandwidth. A proxy server caches popular websites, so when you ask for a website (e.g., monovm.com), the proxy server will send you the most recent copy of the site. This is important because if 50 people were to request a website from the same proxy server, it would send one request to the site and copies of the site to the requested people. This increases the speed and saves bandwidth since one request is enough to give the data to 50 people.
  • Improve Security. You can configure your proxy server to encrypt web requests and block known malware sites through the proxy. It's possible to use the proxy server and a VPN (virtual private network) joint together so that all access to the internet will go through the proxy server. This method is used mostly in organizations to have control, verify and provide a secure connection for the users.
  • Control internet usage. Organizations (also parents) set up proxy servers to monitor how employees use the internet. Companies don't want you to go looking at specific websites during working hours so that they can restrict access to these sites (Facebook, YouTube, Torrent sites, etc.). It's also possible to monitor and log all web requests, so they might not block the site, but they will know how much time you spend on those sites.
  • Privacy. The most common reason to use a proxy server is for privacy. Some proxy servers will change your IP address and other identifying information when sending web requests which will help keep your personal information and browsing more secure.
  • Access blocked sites. You can use proxy servers to access websites that governments and organizations restrict. If some site is blocked within your region, you can access it using a proxy server, making it look to the site as if you are accessing it from a different location. Since the proxy server changes the IP address, you can use an IP from a location where your request is not blocked.
  • Proxy servers have a lot of functionalities. Nowadays, the most important asset is data, and protecting it should be a priority for all internet users. A proxy server will give you the privacy you need, but there are always two sides to a story. This can be used to protect personal data, or it could be used for cybercrimes. Ensure that the proxy you use is a trusted, respectable one, as they can take your browsing data and sell it to partner companies, thus invading your privacy directly. 
  • You can run your proxy server on VPS servers; MonoVM provides VPS servers from more than 20 locations worldwide.

Proxy servers offer benefits, but some risks are associated with them as a user enters the internet with different IP and anonymous identities.  So here is the list of major risks occurring due to the proxy servers. 

Virus Attacks or Spam 

Users get multiple ads or banners while using the internet through a proxy server as a session assigns for the online monitoring. However, it is a fact that the service provider displays these ads for generating the advertisement revenue. Sometimes, server providers stuff the sessions with spam or viruses that can cause serious damage to your system. 

Identity-related Risks

You use a different IP address while using the internet with a proxy server but remember that your address is totally exposed even if you are using a fake IP address. For example, if someone is using your IP address with their proxy server and doing some malicious activities, then the system will detect your details instead of that particular person. So make sure you keep your IP address and personal details private to protect yourself from these risks. 

Internet-related Risks

Undoubtedly, a well-designed proxy server can’t deliver the appropriate online security and privacy everyone needs. Proxy servers are not limited as they need huge amounts of bandwidth for sustaining the heavy traffic burden from different workstations. Still, purchasing high bandwidth requires investment and time, so web browsing through a proxy server can be agonizingly slow. 

Security Issues

It is essential to understand that proxy server have security-related issues because some proxy servers work to flow the data packs from your system to any third-party server. These data packs can contain your important information(login id, password, bank details, personal details, etc.), and third-party servers use this information to harm you and your system. 

So it was the information on Proxy servers and why they are beneficial for multiple tasks. As we have mentioned earlier, a proxy server is a mediator server that separates you from a  website you are accessing. There are different types of Proxy servers which are used for different types of purposes. In case our guide helped you anyway, then make sure to visit our Monovm website to read more information blogs. 

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.