Proxy servers and how they work
When you browse the Internet, your requests pass through several computers on their way to their destination server.
16:58 22 November 2022
When you browse the Internet, your requests pass through several computers on their way to their destination server. If one of these computers happens to be malicious, it can collect your personal information (such as passwords) and sell it to third parties who might use it against you. A proxy server acts as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet, helping protect you from the dangerous networks through which your data passes when you’re online.
This means that it does not matter where you are geographically located in relation to the site you are trying to access. If you are in China and want to access a website the Chinese government blocks, your computer will request a proxy server to fetch the content for you.
This guide explores the different kinds of proxy servers available today and explains how they can help you better secure your online experience and privacy when browsing the web.
How Do Proxy Servers Work?
A proxy server is a machine that sits between the client (user) and the server that it is trying to reach. The proxy server may be on either side of the connection, but more often than not, it is on the user's local computer or device. For example, if a user wants to browse the internet but their ISP blocks some sites, they can use a proxy server to bypass this blockage.
They would connect to the proxy server first and tell it which site they want to visit. The proxy server would fetch the site for them and send it back as if it were its own web page. In effect, the web traffic never leaves the confines of the network controlled by the person running the proxy server.
Your browser connects to the proxy server, establishing a connection with the website. All of your activity is relayed through this middleman so that, from the perspective of a web server, it looks like you're browsing from where the proxy server is located rather than from your actual location.
Types of Proxy Servers
There are two types of proxy services: HTTP and SOCKS.
HTTP proxies act as a middleman between the user's device (e.g., laptop, phone, tablet) and the internet. These proxies might be used in order to shield personal data from prying eyes or to bypass geo-blocking restrictions on websites.
SOCKS proxies are different because they do not allow incoming data to pass through them - instead, the proxy acts as a middleman for outgoing data only.
A proxy server is a computer that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource available from a different server. The proxy server evaluates the request to simplify and control its complexity. In this way, it provides anonymity for both the user seeking access and the provider of the resource.
While proxies help protect user privacy, they can also circumvent security measures to gain illegal entry into restricted areas. As with any form of communication over the internet, there are always risks associated with using them. But if you use a reputable proxy provider with strong security protocols, you should be able to mitigate those risks without too much trouble.