Understanding Proxy Servers and How They Work

neuCentrIX - 10/11/2020 15:43

The Internet is a dangerous place. Most companies are constantly under the threat of data security breaches and identity theft which lurk in the dark corner of even the most “innocent” websites. Thus, it is essential for them to set up adequate security measures.


What is Proxy Server?

A proxy server is an intermediary server which acts as a gateway that separates its users from the website they browse, providing them with security and privacy. When an Internet user uses a proxy, their browser doesn’t connect directly to the website they intend to visit. Any request that comes from the browser first goes through the proxy, and the proxy then forwards it to the destination address. The website’s response also comes back through a proxy, and the proxy then forwards the data received from the website to the user.


When forwarding a web request, a proxy server has the ability to make changes to the data sent. A proxy can change the user’s IP address, so the web can’t locate exactly where they are in the world. It can also block access to certain web pages, based on IP addresses. Adding to that, some proxies, but not all, can encrypt its users’ data to ensure they are unreadable in transit.


Types of Proxy

There are three types of proxy, and it is important to understand the functionality of each type. A transparent proxy, which works mainly for content filtering or caching purposes, tells websites that it is a proxy and will still pass its users’ IP addresses. Next, an anonymous proxy will identify itself as a proxy but won’t pass its users’ IP addresses to websites and transmit fake IP addresses instead. The most private and secure type of proxy is the high anonymity proxy. If an Internet user uses this type, a website won’t be able to detect that they are using a proxy. This type of proxy also periodically changes the IP addresses they present to the web server. 


A proxy server is important for companies not only as a security and privacy measure. With a proxy, companies can control the internet usage of their employees by denying access to specific websites and monitoring web requests through a log. Companies can also save bandwidth and improve their network performance because a proxy server can “cache” or locally save a copy of popular websites and send the requesters the saved copy whenever needed. However, using a proxy server isn’t always beneficial. Proxies can be unstable, and high ping times on the proxies due to traffic routing activity can cause heavy web pages to load slowly. Moreover, although proxies can hide your IP address and host firewalls, most don’t encrypt your traffic.


Proxy or VPN?

Although similar in purpose, proxies and VPNs work in different ways. While a proxy acts as a gateway which excels at IP masking and misdirection, a VPN establishes a secure tunnel with the VPN server, replacing the local ISP routing. A VPN encrypts and secures all network traffic, not only the certain calls from its users’ browsers like most proxy servers which don’t support encryption. To read more about how VPNs work, visit our other article here https://www.neucentrix.co.id/en/news/49-vps-vs-vpn-apa-kegunaannya-dan-bagaimana-membedakannya.


This is why the choice comes down to what is required. When the main concern of a company isn’t only about security but also about restricting websites its employees can hit, a proxy server is a better tool. However, if a company wants to ensure its employees can work remotely with secure access to the company resources like email or internal data, connecting to the internet through a VPN is the better choice.