What is a Proxy Server | Explaining Types of Proxy Servers & How does a Proxy work (myproxy)

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What is a Proxy Server | Explaining Types of Proxy Servers & How does a Proxy work (myproxy)

What is a Proxy Server | Explaining Types of Proxy Servers & How does a Proxy work (myproxy)

What is a Proxy ?

A Proxy is a gateway which separates a user from the internet. In short it acts as an intermediary between the clients and the server. Thus, always a proxy works on behalf of the clients by masking the true identity of them. Masking means that the real IP address of the users is hidden so that the servers will not be able to identify the device which made the request. 

Furthermore a proxy server can play the role of a firewall and the web filter as well. When the proxy acts on the firewall it actually resides on the same machine. There are also chances where a proxy can reside on a separate server forwarding all the requests that comes through the firewall. Besides from forwarding web requests there are many security deeds done by a proxy. The primary role of a proxy is to provide protection from potential threats those which are surrounding on the internet. Despite of providing high level of privacy, the security level provided by a proxy varies upon your needs and the company policy.

How does Proxy work ?

As you all know every computer on the internet has its own unique IP address. Through this IP address the internet will be able to identify each and every computer. Normally when a user tries to access a webpage, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) makes the request on behalf of the user. Instead of requesting directly a webpage, a client can connect to a server using a proxy. When a user sends a web request through a proxy it will make certain changes to the data in order for improving the privacy and security. 

Types of Proxies

Even though all the proxies grant you access to most of the websites, the mechanism of how a proxy works varies upon different proxy types. Different proxies work in different ways. Therefore, in order for choosing the right proxy its important to understand their unique functions. 

There are 4 main categories of Proxies,

1. Transparent Proxy - A Transparent proxy is called by its name as it informs the websites that it is actually a proxy. Hence, the original IP address is visible through the HTTP headers. It takes no steps to change the users IP address. Due to the fact that the original IP address is not hidden, transparent proxies are often questioned for their security vulnerabilities. Apart from that transparent proxies are most commonly used for the purpose of website caching. And also for managing and monitoring the networks used by organizations.

2. Anonymous Proxy - An Anonymous proxy provides anonymity to the user by hiding the original IP address. Due to the fact that the original IP address is hidden here it will open access to contents those are blocked by firewalls. However the identification of the anonymous proxy will be still as a proxy server. Besides that an anonymous proxy allows users to mask their online activities, protect from cyber attacks, identity theft and enhance privacy.

3. Highly Anonymous Proxy -  A highly anonymous proxy works in the same way as an anonymous proxy. But what makes it unique is, despite of hiding the original IP address it sends an odd public IP address. Which means that the websites are unable to identify whether the client is using a proxy. This opens the gate to access blocked contents, enhance protection and improve privacy.

4. Distorting Proxy - A Distorting Proxy works by providing a false IP address to the webpage. But still it does not deny the fact that it is using a proxy. These types of proxies are mainly useful to access contents those which are blocked to certain regions.

Advantages of Proxy

1. Improved Security - Proxies use  process known as Network Address Translation for making the internal structure of a company private. Therefore, whenever a request is made from the respective device it automatically becomes anonymous. And also you can combine proxies with firewall to obtain a even more better security.

2. Enhanced Privacy - It is no doubt that proxies provide anonymity to the user by hiding their IP addresses. So the users current location becomes untraceable to the other members on the network. And also this allows users to browse the internet privately, which makes your private information more secure. 

3. Filter Requests - Filtering requests is a most commonly used technique by corporate networks. Using Proxies, an organization can block access to certain websites so that their employees will not be able to able to access them. Besides that proxy servers can evaluate incoming requests by using filters, which means that you can avoid certain types of requests. Additionally you can manually encrypt the web requests for eavesdropping all of your transactions. 

4. Caching - Caching is a process used by a webpage in which the informations those which are requested frequently by a user is gathered. This not only applies to webpages it can be google as well. Even proxies use caches. If a client requests the same data again and again from a webpage it will directly make the request through the servers. This will significantly reduce the bandwidth usage and the overall cost.

5. Access Blocked Contents - Some websites may impose restrictions to access contents based on the geographical locations. They do this by checking each and every IP address that gets connected through the servers. Since the IP address is hidden in proxy, you can access those contents without any issues.

Disadvantages of Proxy

Performance - Proxies need high level of resources in order for them to function. Hence, devices which use proxy take use of computer resources excessively, which ultimately degrades the system performance. 

Product Integration - Another drawback of proxies is that it cannot integrate with other security products. This includes gaining and learning security policies of other products. For an example they will not integrate with the anti-malware programs which identifies malwares. As a result any type of malware found by the anti-malware program will not be identified by the proxies.

Application Support - Proxies are most at times stand-alone products, which means that they can corporate only with limited number of applications. Due to this they are unable to display the complete database of network traffic.

Traffic Inspection  - Traffic inspection is not a complete process in proxies. Moreover proxies will not be inspecting all the traffics passing through it. This can result in malware attacks and data losses to the companies.

Protocol Support - Proxies cannot support all of the network protocols. Proxies mostly will be supporting only HTTP, HTTPS, DNS and FTP type protocols. Hence, they will not be able to identify each and every applications that is crossing across ports.

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