Technology Basics: Everything You Need to Know About Proxies

Caleb Riutta

October 7, 2021

A proxy acts as a gateway between the user and the internet. When using a proxy server, the user makes a request that goes through the server (intermediary). The proxy then changes the user’s IP address to prevent their identification before connecting to the website.

When a user makes a request, the proxy server requests the data on behalf of the user. The desired results then get back with the user’s IP address remaining anonymous all through.

The best thing about servers is that users can theoretically access the cache. If more websites get requested, they’ll most likely remain in the cache to improve the response time. Proxy servers can also do logging. They can be in the same machine as a firewall and still maintain functionality or be separate.

Apart from hiding your IP address, proxies allow you to access restricted content. A lot of online content gets hidden behind geo-restrictions. In most cases, this happens because of networks and copyright regulations.

You also get protected from malicious websites containing malware or phishing. The admin protects you from accidentally accessing a malicious website.

Types of Proxies

There are different types of proxies to choose from depending on your activities. In this article, we discuss some of them to enable you to make the right choice. Let’s get to it.

  1. Residential Proxy

A residential proxy is an intermediary that uses an IP address provided by an ISP, not a data center. Every residential proxy address has a physical location.

Even though billions of devices connect to the internet at a given time, their IP addresses can pinpoint their locations. Meaning that when online, information is given out about your browser’s preferences.

When using residential proxies, your internet traffic gets routed through an intermediary server. You’re then assigned an alternative IP address, where all your requests get channeled. Remember that the alternative IP address you get assigned belongs to a real device. Thus, when you make a request, it gets conveyed to the resource server.

As a result, your real IP address gets hidden. Then websites perceive your activities as those of other regular users.

A residential proxy can be used for different purposes including:

  • SEO content compliance
  • Accessing ticket sites
  • Social media management. They allow for the creation of multiple social media accounts.
  • Ad verification. It enables users to check and verify ads that get displayed on their web pages. This allows them to recognize and block suspicious ads.
  • Web scraping. It allows users to get access to their competitor’s information. In web scraping, this proxy allows mass scrapping by continuously rotating the IPs.
  1. Forward Proxies

Usually, a forward proxy serves users belonging to a common internal network. When one of the users connects to a file transfer server, the request first goes through a forward proxy. A user’s request can get denied or allowed based on the forward proxy’s settings. When the request gets allowed, it’s forwarded to the firewall, then to the file transfer server.

The proxy server issues requests right from the point of view of the file transfer server. When a response is made, it’s addressed to the proxy.  And when it’s received, the forward proxy recognizes it as a response to an earlier request.

A forward proxy keeps track of users’ requests, responses, sources, and the destination. It acts as an intermediary to different clients, sending requests to different servers. And as mentioned earlier, some requests get denied and others get allowed.

To enhance internal networks security, the forward proxy is used in tandem with a firewall. Thus, a forward proxy is tasked with enforcing security on users’ devices in your private network.

  1. Transparent Proxy

A transparent proxy is also referred to as an inline proxy. It’s called transparent because it doesn’t modify requests and responses.

A transparent proxy intercepts the link between a user and the internet. The experience a user gets when using this proxy is identical to the one they get when using a home computer. Hence, it’s transparent.

It’s well suited for organizations that would like to use proxies without their employees being in the know.

The advantage of this proxy is that it provides a seamless user experience. Its limitation is that it’s susceptible to certain security threats.

The different uses of a transparent proxy are:

  • Content filtering
  • Transparent caching
  • Traffic monitoring
  •  Authentication
  1. Data Center Proxy

This proxy server has no affiliation with an ISP. It’s provided by another corporation through a data center, hence, data center proxy. It exists in a physical data center, and requests get routed through that server.

It’s the best proxy server for users who need quick response time. This is the proxy to go for if you need to quickly gather intelligence on an organization or individual.

When using a data center proxy, you’re provided with the power to quickly and inexpensively harvest data. The downside of using this proxy is that it does not provide the highest level of anonymity. This puts your information at risk.

  1. Anonymous Proxy

This proxy server allows you to hide the origin of your network traffic. This way, you cannot get identified as your IP address remains hidden.

A user’s activity on the internet remains untraceable with the use of this proxy server. The browsing history and any other information, personal or about the websites visited, stays safe and secure.

Things That can go Wrong When Using Proxies

A user’s online activities are certainly safe with the use of proxies. But, there are a few things to be mindful about. They are:

  • To avoid losing your data to cyberattacks, use an encrypted proxy server.
  • Avoid choosing free proxy service providers because it’s risky. Reason being that they sometimes don’t provide anonymity to IP addresses
  • Be mindful of the fact that proxy servers have details about your browsing history. They also have your IP address and web requests.

Final Thoughts

Currently, we have more people working remotely. Thus, there's a need to take proxies more seriously. With the information in this article, you now get the hang of different proxies and how they work. So choose the right proxy and stay safe on the internet!

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