What is a proxy server?
Protecting your online privacy is crucial and going incognito isn’t enough to hide from your ISP or tracking websites. Sometimes companies use proxy servers to centralize and safeguard every online activity so that they can log their employees’ activities.
What is a proxy server?
It’s a server that acquires data from the internet and routes it to your device on your behalf serving as the “middleman” in between. When accessing the internet through your ISP, the connection between your device and the internet is direct. With a proxy server, it’s not the case.
They’re mainly used in company offices to unify all the activity onto a single server for quick website access and to remain anonymous. Since companies store sensitive digital assets in their systems, having a proxy server acts as a layer of protection from cybercriminals.
Types of proxy servers
There are several kinds of proxy servers that operate for different purposes – each unique with its own distinctive features. Here are some of the most popular ones being used.
A forward proxy is ideal for internal networks that require a single point of entry. It offers security for IP addresses and permits direct administrative control. It’s best used in an office setting that uses an internal network for all its operations. While it may be a good way to monitor a company’s employees, it’s limiting for individual end-users.
A DNS proxy works by accepting DNS requests and forwarding them to the domain servers to get cached. These servers function well for extra security in the network you’re using.
An anonymous proxy’s job is to make any internet activity undiscoverable. It accesses the internet on behalf of the user while cloaking their original identity and device information. These proxies are better suited for individual users who want to remain completely anonymous while accessing the internet. A high anonymity proxy takes anonymous proxies to another level by wiping out your information before the proxy establishes a connection to the website the user wishes to enter.
Transparent proxies mimic a regular user experience as one does on their personal laptop. Companies utilize this so that employees won’t be distracted by the fact that all their web traffic goes through a single server. And most of the time, they don’t know they’re even connected to one. A big disadvantage they carry is that they’re more prone to allow any DDoS and SYN-flood attacks.
A rotating proxy works by providing a unique IP address to every user that connects to it. It doesn’t recycle any old IP addresses but instead produces new ones to maintain safety and anonymity. A disadvantage is that some rotating proxies have public or shared proxies that can potentially leak your important data.
As the name suggests, a public proxy is free to use proxy that doesn’t charge for its services. It provides users with IP addresses to disguise themselves whenever they access the internet. While public proxies are suited for users who can’t afford the services, they’re slow due to the number of people using the servers. The downside is increasing the risk of attracting hackers and cybercriminals who are also sharing the same proxy server – they can find out who you are and steal your vital assets.
These proxies are used by multiple users simultaneously and provide IP addresses that may be shared with other users. They’re not so expensive to use and provide fast speed connection. However, a shared IP address means sharing other users’ difficulties and problems. For example, it’s possible to use a shared IP address from an irresponsible user and suffer from restrictions as a result of their actions.
There are always advantages to hiding your IP address. Here are some other benefits of using a proxy server.
- Activity logging can show company executives what websites their employees are accessing and how long they remained on them. Some employees may steal vital information for their benefit, so it’s important to know that your employees are on their best behavior.
- A proxy server has a centralized cache database that stores web pages anyone can access. Whenever you log on or access a particular website, the proxy server will retrieve the data from the cache database instead of connecting to the internet. Other users connected to the proxy servers can also access the websites with ease and store other website caches on the database for everyone else to access. It’s an ecosystem that relies on users’ activities to create a large database of frequently visited websites to speed up usability.
- Complimentary to the above statement, it saves plenty of bandwidth essentially making it easier to open websites.
- Some free-to-use proxy servers are not legitimate and fool users into thinking they’re real proxy servers. But they’re decoys set up by cybercriminals to bait users into submitting their personal information for their malicious gain.
- While proxy servers can hide your IP address, they won’t encrypt your data. Encrypted data means that if someone gets a hold of your information, all they can see are random letters and characters.
- Browsing anonymously is an overstatement – they collect and store your original IP address and unencrypted web requests. Anyone who knows how to hack can gain access to your information without your knowledge and consent.
Proxy server vs VPN
VPNs and proxy servers both have a common denominator of having external servers to channel your web requests. However, the latter does not provide absolute anonymity since it doesn’t have built-in end-to-end encryption. Proxy servers are good for minimal security and corporate settings, but VPNs win in the battle for “establishing safety and anonymity.”
VPNs, or virtual private networks, allow you to use a different IP address of your choice while providing an encrypted tunnel for your requests to flow through.
Proxy servers and VPNs both serve equally good services, but to remain safe, secured, and anonymous, the better option would be to pick a VPN. SwoshsVPN has more than 140 ultra-fast in over 60 countries and A-class military encryption to make sure you remain hidden from your ISP and tracking websites. And to make you feel safer, SwoshsVPN offers extra security features such as Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, and other features to power up your privacy and security.