What is a Proxy Server and How Does it Work?

In a nutshell a proxy server is an intermediary server that keeps the users away from prying eyes of other browsers such that their anonymity is maintained and remain untraceable. A proxy server also acts as a web filter and speeds up the data requests made by the user. It of course provides several functions, privacy and security, but only as per individual cases or policies of an organization. In other words, when you sent out a request over the net for a website, in this case the proxy server takes the request and forwards the same as if the request has originated from it. When the data from the website is received it is at once forwarded to you again. Through this way your IP address or personal information is never revealed over the internet to others.

This means that the proxy server takes on a new IP address as any computer must always have their own IP address. This gives no chance for others to identify your location or to get any details or spam you in any way making it quite safe for you to browse and sent messages. It is also able to block certain websites and encrypts the data so the user identification is never revealed.

Benefits of Using Proxy Server

There are several benefits to be had when using proxy server. As a user of proxy server you may browse the internet without the fear that someone would be prying or spying on you. This is because of change in IP address would make others like destination server impossible to ascertain as to source of original request. This greatly improves the security of the user apart from privacy.

You greatly enhance your security by asking your proxy server to encrypt your web queries in such a way that no malicious software or spams can touch you or destroy your data.

It is also seen that you get the maximum benefit due to savings you make on your bandwidth. The proxy server for individual users if needed or instructed can save a copy of the websites so that you may get the same when you want to. In other words, when several users pass on their queries of a particular website the proxy server sends only one copy and not one for each individual query. This saves the bandwidth as well increase the speed considerably.

For organizations using a proxy server is a great way for controlling your employees using the internet for purposes other than what is officially needed. In fact, an employee may not be able to access webs due to strict regulations done on employer’s behalf by the proxy server. The proxy server is not only able to check employees from browsing unwanted websites, but also monitor the sites on which the employees take the maximum time.

The same is the case with parents who want to stop their children from reaching out to certain websites that may harm their social outlooks and wire them negatively to rest of humans.

Yet another benefit from proxy server is that you may browse the contents that have been blocked or restricted by some organizations or governments. This is especially so with closed countries and a proxy server may circumvent and easily get you to browse the same without any hassles. However, it must be noted that this proxy server should be one that belongs to the other country or other side. Only then the user gets to browse certain websites belonging to another country.

Proxy Server of Varying Levels of Anonymity

There are numerous types of proxies on the internet as there are always varying levels of anonymity and security demanded by clients who are the users. They are given names like ‘tunneling proxy’, ‘forwarding proxy’, ‘and reverse proxy’ and others. They are named according to each of their individual functions. A tunneling proxy passes out unmodified requests and so also responses. In the case with forward proxy it is used to retrieve data from a large number of sources on the net. The reverse proxy on the other hand offers services based on a front-end control of a server over a private network. They can be used for authentication services, load-balancing and caching services.

There are several proxies like the forwarding proxy that are accessible to any users of the web. These come with varying levels of anonymity. It depends upon the users to respond to the levels of anonymity that they may need for their internet uses.

You may find that reverse proxy is best if you want your clients to make browsing easy and smooth as they appear like ordinary server. The process is forwarded in the usual way and all the original response from the reverse proxy looks like as if it is coming directly from it. Here, the actual user is hidden from view. The reverse proxy is another option.

Apart from SSL acceleration, the reverse proxy can distribute the load to as many web servers it may wish to have. Again, the load time could be considerably speeded up as stated above by compressing the content. It also offloads the content on to web servers by caching pictures and graphical contents.

Internet and Extranet Monitoring and Filtering

The reverse proxy may also send communication to a firewall server that is internally being utilized in an organization. This enables companies to provide access to some of its functions. This is done by communicating easily and transparently with servers behind these firewalls. This is especially done to increase security so that the official data and other information is never leaked to the even the most ruthless spams and malwares.

You may find content-filtering proxy server that provides full control over any contents that comes and goes in both directions. These are used nowadays in both commercial as well as non-commercial organizations especially in educational institutions. This is done by giving support to user authentication to control and usage of web. In other words, many organizations are able to directly control uses of web access by students and employees in a particular area or building.

Most such proxies use web crawling robot that identifies such sites as well as near to that kind of content on the web and simply blocks them from viewing. By clearing cache and cookies make it difficult for web spies or clients to know whether a proxy server is at work or not.