Why a proxy server in establishment?
The proxy server works as a kind of gateway between your browser and the Internet. When using a proxy server, your Internet traffic is sent to this proxy before arriving at the website or at the address you want to consult. As an intermediary, the proxy server ensures that you are never in direct contact with the sites you consult on the web.
This is the general definition of proxy servers, also called proxy transfer servers. In the same way that the “proxy” (in French the “agent”) acts on your behalf, the proxy server as a messenger or gateway to the web.
Although there are many types of proxy servers, each offering different functions, they are all used to represent you when browsing the Internet.
What proxy servers do ?
Through the transfer of your web queries, proxy servers offer many security advantages. When you send a request, it first goes through the proxy server. This proxy server relays your request to the web server concerned, receives the response and transfers it to you so that the data you requested (say a web page) can be loaded into your browser.
By acting as a representative or gateway between you and the Internet, the proxy server ensures that your browser is never in direct contact with the sites you consult, which strengthens your security, but also the security of your local network. But proxy servers can have other uses and offer more than just security protection against hackers.
Here are some of the other useful functions of proxy servers:
Firewall and web filter: you can limit access to certain websites.
Shared network connections: you can connect multiple devices from the same network.
Caching of data: you can improve the navigation speed by saving a copy of the websites consulted.
How a proxy server works ?
All proxy servers work with your computer’s IP address. The Internet Protocol is a bit like the personal address of your computer or device. Like the mail that arrives in the mailbox at your postal address, your Internet requests are sent to your unique IP address so that the data arrives in the right place.
When you are sailing without proxy, your IP address is visible to web servers. In fact, it is extremely simple to find your IP address, which can lead to security and other identity issues. The proxy also has an IP address, which can be used to represent you so that you do not have to reveal your true IP address
When you use a proxy server, all your Internet queries are sent to this proxy, which then relays them on the Internet. The web server or other server for which you request the data then returns your requests to the proxy address, which transfers the data to you. With a proxy server, the only point of contact in your network is the proxy server itself.
Proxy web servers can hide your IP address, which complicates the location work for the web server. But masking your IP address does not encrypt your Internet traffic, which means that all of your queries, including your usernames, passwords, and other information about your accounts is also not protected or masked.
Despite their safety limits, there are different types of proxys that work in different ways. We will come back to this later.
Configuration and installation
Whether you are using a Windows PC or a Mac, your computer has all the functions necessary to help you configure and connect to a proxy. In proxy settings, it is common for your operating system to provide you with a list of automatically detected proxy servers. But it is also quite possible to enter the IP address and port number of a particular proxy. If you are using a private or professional proxy server, this information will be provided to you by the service.
What about reverse proxys ?
We have seen how proxy servers work for you as a gateway between you and the web servers with which you communicate. This process can also work the other way around. Reverse proxys represent a web server or a group of web servers. Reverse proxys connect to you from these web servers.
In which case does a web server need a reverse proxy ? As with conventional proxys, reverse proxys have their usefulness in terms of cybersecurity, network efficiency and data caching, all of which are advantages for the web server.
Types of proxy servers
There are different types of proxy servers. Although they all act as your online representative, different types of proxy servers perform this service in different ways, depending on your needs.
The transparent proxy does not offer additional confidentiality. This proxy clearly indicates to the web server that it is a proxy and transfers your actual IP address, which clearly identifies you with the web server. Transparent proxys are not used for security or confidentiality reasons.
In general, these transparent proxys are used by schools, businesses and public networks such as those of libraries to filter content or cache data.
Using a distorting proxy is a bit like putting a fake beard and glasses on your connection. The distorting proxy gives the web server a false IP address, although it indicates that it acts as a proxy. This false address is anonymously anonymous, but the real advantage is that you can deceive the web server about your actual location. In other words, distorting proxys can help you get around location-based restrictions.
Although they add a safety layer, the disadvantage of distorting proxys is that some sites refuse queries from online proxys, so you will not be able to view these sites, even with a distorting proxy.
Anonymous proxys know how to keep a secret: they hide your IP address on the websites you consult. They can help you fight identity theft, but also allow you to navigate anonymously. But there is a catch: anonymous proxys identify themselves as proxy servers, therefore, some websites may not let you consult them.
Anonymous proxys, however, are a good first bulwark to protect your IP address
Highly anonymous proxys
If you are concerned with cybersecurity, highly anonymous proxys are the best proxys solution. Highly anonymous proxys are proxys that can change their appearance at will. Although this type of proxy uses your IP address, it regularly changes the IP address it indicates to the web servers of the sites you view. This complicates the application of online tracking techniques for websites that track your activities.
In addition, the highly anonymous proxy does not reveal itself as a proxy working for you. This approach ensures that you cover the digital traces you leave, making it the safest type of proxy server.
But despite all the security techniques they can offer, most proxy servers do not encrypt your web traffic, which exposes it to various online threats, such as hackers or spies. A VPN (virtual private network) offers much better protection.
The VPN AVG Secure masks your IP address so that you can navigate the web freely. It also applies bank quality encryption to all of your Internet traffic so that you are permanently protected no matter what you do online.
Why use a proxy server ?
The methods that hackers use to try to steal your data or your identity are becoming more sophisticated. The advantages of proxy servers are therefore obvious. But cybersecurity aside, what can a proxy server also use for ?
Content control: as a business owner, you may want to limit the use of the Internet at the office. Or maybe as a parent you want to limit your children’s streaming access. Proxy servers can be a good tool to block certain types of content on your Wi-Fi network.
Confidentiality: individuals and businesses can take advantage of the confidentiality offered by proxy servers. They complicate the monitoring by the websites of the origin of the requests (you and your network). This ensures better security of your navigation habits and your personal information, for safer navigation.
Cache: you want to improve navigation performance ? If you or your organization frequently use certain websites, the proxy can save a copy of these sites on its server, this is called caching. Once this information has been saved, the browser can directly access the website from the local server rather than having to go and interrogate the web server each time. The speed and performance of navigation are improved.
Access blocked resources: there are different ways to unlock a website, for example with a proxy. By masking your actual location, some proxy servers may allow you to circumvent content restrictions defined by a company or by a government.
Who uses proxy servers ?
In view of the wide variety of options, there is a proxy server suitable for each use. In general, it is businesses, large organizations and public networks that use proxys. Schools or libraries often use it to block access to certain sites. Companies or offices use it to hide the most visited websites and thereby improve navigation performance.
Fans of a sports team can use an online proxy to support their team when they are abroad. And citizens who live under repressive rule and want access to a free Internet can bypass state censorship and other types of content restrictions using a proxy server.
Proxy servers are great tools that provide more control, confidentiality and efficiency and allow access to blocked content.
Using a proxy server: risks
Although they offer many advantages, proxy servers have some drawbacks.
Possible instability: most web proxys are free, which means that these servers are likely to be used by a large number of people at the same time. Result: the connections offered by certain proxy servers are unstable and often disconnect. If you want to use a free proxy, we advise you to choose the free HMA web proxy
Slow: your Internet connection seems slow to you ? The problem may come from the proxy. As we have just explained, if there are too many users, the proxy server may slow down. Likewise, since proxys pass all your traffic through an intermediary instead of going directly to web servers on the Internet, this additional step can constitute a bottleneck, especially if your proxy must mask your identity or if is found elsewhere in the world.
Safety issues: most proxy servers are unable to encrypt the content of your web traffic, which severely limits the benefits of using a proxy to improve cybersecurity. Without encryption, your requests are simply sent in the form of clear text and all your important data (user names, passwords, account information, etc.) can be easily disclosed or stolen.
Proxy servers clearly pose many performance and security issues. It is for this reason that we advise you to use a VPN, such as VPN AVG Secure, another solution that solves most of the security concerns of proxy servers.
What are the alternatives ?
If cybersecurity is an important factor for you, the risks of using a proxy server may be greater than the benefits. If we compare proxys and VPNs, the benefits of using VPN are quite clear.
Both proxy servers and VPNs use remote servers to connect to the Internet. They can both protect your IP address and hide your location. The main difference is that the VPN fully encrypts your data and Internet traffic.
With a VPN like VPN AVG Secure, you are certain that your information and your privacy are safe from prying eyes, which simply cannot be guaranteed by proxy servers.
Use a trusted VPN to remain anonymous online and protect your privacy
In all the online services we use, be it e-commerce, social media or online banking, we endanger our identity and personal data. The risks of theft or resale of this information are more and more present, the improvement of cybersecurity is therefore crucial.
Although proxy servers can be a good initial line of defense, to deal with the whole range of existing threats, VPN remains the best choice.
VPN AVG Secure offers all the advantages of a proxy server, with bank quality encryption to guarantee the protection of your data and your privacy. And with servers spread all over the world, you have global protection wherever you are, always with an ultra-fast connection.