What is a Proxy Server? How It Works & How to Use It | Fortinet

What is a Proxy Server? How It Works & How to Use It | Fortinet

What Is a Proxy Server?
A proxy server provides a gateway between users and the internet. It is a server, referred to as an “intermediary” because it goes between end-users and the web pages they visit online.
When a computer connects to the internet, it uses an IP address. This is similar to your home’s street address, telling incoming data where to go and marking outgoing data with a return address for other devices to authenticate. A proxy server is essentially a computer on the internet that has an IP address of its own.
Proxy Servers and Network Security
Proxies provide a valuable layer of security for your computer. They can be set up as web filters or firewalls, protecting your computer from internet threats like malware.
This extra security is also valuable when coupled with a secure web gateway or other email security products. This way, you can filter traffic according to its level of safety or how much traffic your network—or individual computers—can handle.
How to use a proxy? Some people use proxies for personal purposes, such as hiding their location while watching movies online, for example. For a company, however, they can be used to accomplish several key tasks such as:
Improve security
Secure employees’ internet activity from people trying to snoop on them
Balance internet traffic to prevent crashes
Control the websites employees and staff access in the office
Save bandwidth by caching files or compressing incoming traffic
How a Proxy Works
Because a proxy server has its own IP address, it acts as a go-between for a computer and the internet. Your computer knows this address, and when you send a request on the internet, it is routed to the proxy, which then gets the response from the web server and forwards the data from the page to your computer’s browser, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge
How to Get a Proxy
There are hardware and software versions. Hardware connections sit between your network and the internet, where they get, send, and forward data from the web. Software proxies are typically hosted by a provider or reside in the cloud. You download and install an application on your computer that facilitates interaction with the proxy.
Often, a software proxy can be obtained for a monthly fee. Sometimes, they are free. The free versions tend to offer users fewer addresses and may only cover a few devices, while the paid proxies can meet the demands of a business with many devices.
How Is the Server Set Up?
To get started with a proxy server, you have to configure it in your computer, device, or network. Each operating system has its own setup procedures, so check the steps required for your computer or network.
In most cases, however, setup means using an automatic configuration script. If you want to do it manually, there will be options to enter the IP address and the appropriate port.
How Does the Proxy Protect Computer Privacy and Data?
A proxy server performs the function of a firewall and filter. The end-user or a network administrator can choose a proxy designed to protect data and privacy. This examines the data going in and out of your computer or network. It then applies rules to prevent you from having to expose your digital address to the world. Only the proxy’s IP address is seen by hackers or other bad actors. Without your personal IP address, people on the internet do not have direct access to your personal data, schedules, apps, or files.
With it in place, web requests go to the proxy, which then reaches out and gets what you want from the internet. If the server has encryption capabilities, passwords and other personal data get an extra tier of protection.
Benefits of a Proxy Server
Proxies come with several benefits that can give your business an advantage:
Enhanced security: Can act like a firewall between your systems and the internet. Without them, hackers have easy access to your IP address, which they can use to infiltrate your computer or network.
Private browsing, watching, listening, and shopping: Use different proxies to help you avoid getting inundated with unwanted ads or the collection of IP-specific data.
Access to location-specific content: You can designate a proxy server with an address associated with another country. You can, in effect, make it look like you are in that country and gain full access to all the content computers in that country are allowed to interact with.
Prevent employees from browsing inappropriate or distracting sites: You can use it to block access to websites that run contrary to your organization’s principles. Also, you can block sites that typically end up distracting employees from important tasks. Some organizations block social media sites like Facebook and others to remove time-wasting temptations.
Types of Proxy Servers
While all proxy servers give users an alternate address with which to use the internet, there are several different kinds—each with its own features.
Forward Proxy
A forward proxy sits in front of clients and is used to get data to groups of users within an internal network. When a request is sent, the proxy server examines it to decide whether it should proceed with making a connection.
A forward proxy is best suited for internal networks that need a single point of entry. It provides IP address security for those in the network and allows for straightforward administrative control. However, a forward proxy may limit an organization’s ability to cater to the needs of individual end-users.
Transparent Proxy
A transparent proxy can give users an experience identical to what they would have if they were using their home computer. In that way, it is “transparent. ” They can also be “forced” on users, meaning they are connected without knowing it.
Transparent proxies are well-suited for companies that want to make use of a proxy without making employees aware they are using one. It carries the advantage of providing a seamless user experience. On the other hand, transparent proxies are more susceptible to certain security threats, such as SYN-flood denial-of-service attacks.
Anonymous Proxy
An anonymous proxy focuses on making internet activity untraceable. It works by accessing the internet on behalf of the user while hiding their identity and computer information.
A transparent proxy is best suited for users who want to have full anonymity while accessing the internet. While transparent proxies provide some of the best identity protection possible, they are not without drawbacks. Many view the use of transparent proxies as underhanded, and users sometimes face pushback or discrimination as a result.
High Anonymity Proxy
A high anonymity proxy is an anonymous proxy that takes anonymity one step further. It works by erasing your information before the proxy attempts to connect to the target site.
The server is best suited for users for whom anonymity is an absolute necessity, such as employees who do not want their activity traced back to the organization. On the downside, some of them, particularly the free ones, are decoys set up to trap users in order to access their personal information or data.
Distorting Proxy
A distorting proxy identifies itself as a proxy to a website but hides its own identity. It does this by changing its IP address to an incorrect one.
Distorting proxies are a good choice for people who want to hide their location while accessing the internet. This type of proxy can make it look like you are browsing from a specific country and give you the advantage of hiding not just your identity but that of the proxy, too. This means even if you are associated with the proxy, your identity is still secure. However, some websites automatically block distorting proxies, which could keep an end-user from accessing sites they need.
Data Center Proxy
Data center proxies are not affiliated with an internet service provider (ISP) but are provided by another corporation through a data center. The proxy server exists in a physical data center, and the user’s requests are routed through that server.
Data center proxies are a good choice for people who need quick response times and an inexpensive solution. They are therefore a good choice for people who need to gather intelligence on a person or organization very quickly. They carry the benefit of giving users the power to swiftly and inexpensively harvest data. On the other hand, they do not offer the highest level of anonymity, which may put users’ information or identity at risk.
Residential Proxy
A residential proxy gives you an IP address that belongs to a specific, physical device. All requests are then channeled through that device.
Residential proxies are well-suited for users who need to verify the ads that go on their website, so you can block cookies, suspicious or unwanted ads from competitors or bad actors. Residential proxies are more trustworthy than other proxy options. However, they often cost more money to use, so users should carefully analyze whether the benefits are worth the extra investment.
Public Proxy
A public proxy is accessible by anyone free of charge. It works by giving users access to its IP address, hiding their identity as they visit sites.
Public proxies are best suited for users for whom cost is a major concern and security and speed are not. Although they are free and easily accessible, they are often slow because they get bogged down with free users. When you use a public proxy, you also run an increased risk of having your information accessed by others on the internet.
Shared Proxy
Shared proxies are used by more than one user at once. They give you access to an IP address that may be shared by other people, and then you can surf the internet while appearing to browse from a location of your choice.
Shared proxies are a solid option for people who do not have a lot of money to spend and do not necessarily need a fast connection. The main advantage of a shared proxy is its low cost. Because they are shared by others, you may get blamed for someone else’s bad decisions, which could get you banned from a site.
SSL Proxy
A secure sockets layer (SSL) proxy provides decryption between the client and the server. As the data is encrypted in both directions, the proxy hides its existence from both the client and the server.
These proxies are best suited for organizations that need enhanced protection against threats that the SSL protocol reveals and stops. Because Google prefers servers that use SSL, an SSL proxy, when used in connection with a website, may help its search engine ranking. On the downside, content encrypted on an SSL proxy cannot be cached, so when visiting websites multiple times, you may experience slower performance than you would otherwise.
Rotating Proxy
A rotating proxy assigns a different IP address to each user that connects to it. As users connect, they are given an address that is unique from the device that connected before it.
Rotating proxies are ideal for users who need to do a lot of high-volume, continuous web scraping. They allow you to return to the same website again and again anonymously. However, you have to be careful when choosing rotating proxy services. Some of them contain public or shared proxies that could expose your data.
Reverse Proxy
Unlike a forward proxy, which sits in front of clients, a reverse proxy is positioned in front of web servers and forwards requests from a browser to the web servers. It works by intercepting requests from the user at the network edge of the web server. It then sends the requests to and receives replies from the origin server.
Reverse proxies are a strong option for popular websites that need to balance the load of many incoming requests. They can help an organization reduce bandwidth load because they act like another web server managing incoming requests. The downside is reverse proxies can potentially expose the HTTP server architecture if an attacker is able to penetrate it. This means network administrators may have to beef up or reposition their firewall if they are using a reverse proxy.
Proxy Server vs. VPN
On the surface, proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs) may seem interchangeable because they both route requests and responses through an external server. Both also allow you to access websites that would otherwise block the country you’re physically located in. However, VPNs provide better protection against hackers because they encrypt all traffic.
Choosing VPN or Proxy
If you need to constantly access the internet to send and receive data that should be encrypted or if your company has to reveal data you must hide from hackers and corporate spies, a VPN would be a better choice.
If an organization merely needs to allow its users to browse the internet anonymously, a proxy server may do the trick. This is the better solution if you simply want to know which websites team members are using or you want to make sure they have access to sites that block users from your country.
A VPN is better suited for business use because users usually need secure data transmission in both directions. Company information and personnel data can be very valuable in the wrong hands, and a VPN provides the encryption you need to keep it protected. For personal use where a breach would only affect you, a single user, a proxy server may be an adequate choice. You can also use both technologies simultaneously, particularly if you want to limit the websites that users within your network visit while also encrypting their communications.
How Fortinet Can Help
FortiGate has the capability of both proxies and VPNs. It shields users from data breaches that often happen with high-speed traffic and uses IPsec and SSL to enhance security. FortiGate also harnesses the power of the FortiASIC hardware accelerator to enhance performance without compromising privacy. Secure your network with FortiGate VPN and proxy capabilities. Contact us to learn more.
Proxy: In a Sentence

Proxy: In a Sentence

Definition of Proxyone who has been given permission to act for anotherExamples of Proxy in a sentence When my husband and I are out of the country, my sister is the proxy who signs legal documents for our children. John’s proxy has been authorized to vote for him during his absence. During the action sequence, a stand-in will act as a proxy for the A-list actor. The vice-principal will act as proxy for the vacationing principal. Because the billionaire is ill, his son will attend the shareholder’s meeting as his proxy. Most Searched Words (with Video)
What is a proxy server and how does it work - javatpoint

What is a proxy server and how does it work – javatpoint

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Every computer that is connected to the network has an IP (Internet Protocol) address that identifies the device uniquely. Similarly, the proxy server is a computer on the network that has its own IP address. But sometimes, we want to access those websites or servers that are restricted and we do not want to show our identity (IP address). In such a scenario, the proxy server comes into existence. We can achieve the same by using the proxy server. It provides varying levels of functionality, security, and privacy that depend on the use case, needs, or policies of the company. In this section, we will discuss what is a proxy server, its types, advantages, need, and working of proxy servers.
Proxy Server
The proxy server is a computer on the internet that accepts the incoming requests from the client and forwards those requests to the destination server. It works as a gateway between the end-user and the internet. It has its own IP address. It separates the client system and web server from the global network.
In other words, we can say that the proxy server allows us to access any websites with a different IP address. It plays an intermediary role between users and targeted websites or servers. It collects and provides information related to user requests. The most important point about a proxy server is that it does not encrypt traffic.
There are two main purposes of proxy server:
To keep the system behind it anonymous.
To speed up access to a resource through caching.
Mechanism of Proxy Server
The following figure depicts the mechanism of the proxy server.
The proxy server accepts the request from the client and produces a response based on the following conditions:
If the requested data or page already exists in the local cache, the proxy server itself provides the required retrieval to the client.
If the requested data or page does not exist in the local cache, the proxy server forwards that request to the destination server.
The proxy servers transfer the replies to the client and also being cached to them.
Therefore, it can be said that the proxy server acts as a client as well as the server.
Types of Proxy Servers
There are many types of proxy servers available. The two most common types of proxy servers are forward and reverse proxy servers. The other proxy server has its own feature and advantages. Let’s discuss each in detail.
Open or Forward Proxy Server: It is the most widely recognized type of intermediary worker that is gotten to by the customer. An open or forward proxy server refers to those sorts of intermediaries that get demands from web clients and afterward peruse destinations to gather the mentioned information. After collecting the data from the sites, it forwards the data to the internet users directly. It bypasses the firewall made by authorities. The following image shows forward proxy configuration.
Reverse Proxy Server: It is a proxy server that is installed in the neighborhood of multiple other internal resources. It validated and processes a transaction in such a way that the clients do not communicate directly. The most popular reverse proxies are Varnish and Squid. The following image shows the reverse proxy configuration.
Split Proxy Server: It is implemented as two programs installed on two different computers.
Transparent Proxy: It is a proxy server that does not modify the request or response beyond what is required for proxy authentication and identification. It works on port 80.
Non-Transparent Proxy: It is an intermediary that alters the solicitation reaction to offer some extra types of assistance to the client. Web demands are straightforwardly shipped off the intermediary paying little mind to the worker from where they started.
Hostile Proxy: It is used to eavesdrop upon the data flow between the client machine and the web.
Intercepting Proxy Server: It combines the proxy server with a gateway. It is commonly used in businesses to prevent avoidance of acceptable use policy and ease of administration.
Forced Proxy Server: It is a combination of Intercepting and non-intercepting policies.
Caching Proxy Server: Caching is servicing the request of clients with the help of saved contents from previous requests, without communicating with the specified server.
Web Proxy Server: The proxy that is targeted to the world wide web is known as a web proxy server.
Anonymous Proxy: The server tries to anonymizing the web surfing.
Socks Proxy: It is an ITEF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard. It is just like a proxy system that supports proxy-aware applications. It does not allow the external network components to collects the information of the client that had generated the request. It consists of the following components:
A dient library for the SOCK.
A dient program such as FTP, telnet, or internet browser.
A SOCK server for the specified operating system.
High Anonymity Proxy: The proxy server that doesn’t contain the proxy server type and the client IP address in a request header. Clients using the proxy can’t be tracked.
Rotating Proxy: It assigns a unique IP address to each client who is connected to it. It is ideal for users who do a lot of continuous web scrapping. It allows us to return the same website again and again. So, using the rotating proxy requires more attention.
SSL Proxy Server: It decrypts the data between the client and the server. It means data is encrypted in both directions. Since proxy hides its existence from both the client and the server. It is best suited for organizations that enhance protection against threats. In SSL proxy, the content encrypted is not cached.
Shared Proxy: A shared proxy server is used by more than one user at a time. It provides an IP address to the client that can be shared with other clients. It also allows users to select the location from where the user wants to search. It is ideal for users who do not want to spend a lot of money on a fast connection. Low cost is an advantage of it. The disadvantage of it is that a user can be get blamed for someone else’s mischievous activity. For this reason, the user can be blocked from the site.
Public Proxy: A public proxy is available free of cost. It is perfect for the user for whom cost is a major concern while security and speed are not. Its speed is usually slow. Using a public proxy puts the user at high risk because information can be accessed by others on the internet.
Residential Proxy: It assigns an IP address to a specific device. All requests made by the client channeled through that device. It is ideal for the users who want to verify ads that display on their websites. Using the residential proxy server, we can block unwanted and suspicious ads from competitors. In comparison to other proxy servers, the residential proxy server is more reliable.
Distorting Proxy: It is different from others because it identifies itself as a proxy to a website but hides its own identity. The actual IP address is changed by providing an incorrect one. It is perfect for clients who do not want to disclose their location during surfing.
Data Center Proxy: It is a special type of proxy that is not affiliated with the ISP. It is provided by other corporations through a data center. These servers can be found in physical data centers. It is ideal for clients who want quick responses. It does not provide high-level anonymity. For this reason, it can put client information at high risk.
HTTP Proxy: HTTP proxies are those proxy servers that are used to save cache files of the browsed websites. It saves time and enhances the speed because cached files reside in the local memory. If the user again wants to access the same file proxy itself provides the same file without actually browsing the pages.
Advantages of Proxy Server
There are the following benefits of using the proxy server:
It improves the security and enhances the privacy of the user.
It hides the identity (IP address) of the user.
It controls the traffic and prevents crashes.
Also, saves bandwidth by caching files and compressing incoming traffic.
Protect our network from malware.
Allows access to the restricted content.
Need of Proxy Server
It reduces the chances of data breaches.
It adds a subsidiary layer of security between server and outside traffic.
It also protects from hackers.
It filters the requests.
Working of Proxy Server
As we have discussed above, the proxy server has its own IP address and it works as a gateway between the client and the internet. The client’s computer knows the IP address of the proxy server. When the client sends a request on the internet, the request is re-routed to the proxy. After that, the proxy server gets the response from the destination or targeted server/site and forwards the data from the page to the client’s browser (Chrome, Safari, etc. ).
Overall, it can be said that the proxy server accesses the targeted site, on behalf of the client, and collects all the requested information, and forwards them to the user (client). The following figure clearly depicts the working of the proxy server.
Proxy Server Vs. VPN
Proxy server and VPN (Virtual Private Network) are quite similar. Both allow clients to hide their IP addresses, location and allows access to the restricted websites. The only difference is that the proxy server does not encrypt the traffic while VPN does the same. Another difference is that no one can track the activity of the VPN user while the activity of the proxy server user can be tracked.
The following table describes the key differences between the proxy server and VPN.
Basis of Comparison
It does not encrypt the traffic.
It encrypts the traffic.
It does not have its own software.
It has its own software.
It is faster than VPN.
It is slower in comparison to the proxy server.
It uses cache.
It does not use cache.
IP Address
It hides the IP address but the proxy owner can see the client’s IP address.
The IP address is completely hidden.
It is unstable.
It is seamless.
It is mostly free.
It is chargeable.
Its connection drops more frequently.
Its connection is more reliable.
Level of Working
It works on the application level.
It works on the operating system level.
It is less secure.
It provides greater security.
Next TopicHow to set up and use a proxy server
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Frequently Asked Questions about proxyu

What exactly is a proxy?

A proxy server provides a gateway between users and the internet. It is a server, referred to as an “intermediary” because it goes between end-users and the web pages they visit online. … A proxy server is essentially a computer on the internet that has an IP address of its own.

What is an example of a proxy?

A person empowered to act for another. Proxy is a stand-in for someone else, the authority to stand-in for or represent someone else, or a document giving permission for someone else to vote on your behalf. … An example of proxy is when you register to vote and have someone else actually cast your ballot.

How do you use the word proxy?

Proxy in a Sentence When my husband and I are out of the country, my sister is the proxy who signs legal documents for our children.John’s proxy has been authorized to vote for him during his absence.During the action sequence, a stand-in will act as a proxy for the A-list actor.More items…

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