When you are working in the technology or computer-related field, you must have often come across the term “proxy”. With the growing concern of online security and data theft, proxy servers have become quite popular. So, how is the proxy server and security of your system connected? Well, a proxy server adds an additional layer of security between your server and the outside world. This additional security layer reduces the chances of a breach.
Before going into details of the advantages and disadvantages of the proxy server let’s know what a proxy server is and what its features are. If you are not entirely familiar with proxy servers and how do they work, this blog will help you catch the basics of this technology concept.
What is a Proxy Server?
Basically proxy server plays an intermediary between the client computer and the server computer. The clients usually take the help of a proxy server for requesting any files, any web pages, or any other resources. The proxy server acts as an identification shield between the server and the client machine.
The main and foremost feature of a proxy server is to act as a security protector device between the client computers and the server computers. To understand the fact clearly let’s give an example.
Suppose “A” is the client computer, “B” is the server computer and “C” is the proxy server. Then when “A” requests or sends something to “B” directly, “B” can identify “A” as the sender of that request and can collect much information of “A”. But if “A” at first connect to “C” (i.e. a proxy server) and then request or sends something to “B” via “C”, then “B” can only able to collect information from “C”. In that way, “A” can able to protect and hide its personal information to “B” by taking the help of “C”. Please check the following points & images to understand it more clearly:
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Without Proxy Server:
When a network does not use a proxy server, there is a direct connection between the users and the website. So, when a user requests a specific web page, the request directly goes to the server. Then the server gives a response directly to the user. Thus, there is no content filtering or security layer in between. Also, there is no encryption in the messages transferring between the server and the system. When you connect without a proxy:
- The server knows your external IP. This IP is sufficient to know your approximate geographical location. So, in a way, you are letting the server know your identity.
- The server can access any cookies that are available on your computer.
- It knows your browser details, details of your browser plugins, OS version, and more.
Earlier, most connections in the network worked on this concept. But, with the growing concern of privacy, security, and confidentiality in network connections, there is a preference for connections using a proxy server. Using a proxy can definitely benefit a user in many ways while browsing the internet.
With Proxy Server:
Proxies were devised to add structure and encapsulation to distributed systems. A proxy server acts as an intermediary between your computer or device and the Internet. This server makes requests to websites, servers, and services on the internet for you. The basic principle is that the server is relaying those packets for you, and stripping the originating address. Instead of your own IP address, they only see the proxy server’s IP (Reference: Dummies).
Currently, in the market there are thousands of free and paid proxy service providers are available. Now it’s up to you whether you will go for the free or the paid ones. But it is true that in the free proxy server some features or advantages may be less in comparison to the paid ones. If you are from any business or professional background it is advisable to go and buy a premium proxy.
In paid one, the security level will be higher and will be more protective because they will be dedicated to you. There are many premium and good quality proxy servers are available. So go for a search for the best one. Take a look at their fees against their features that match your desired requirements. If you are just a casual net surfer then you can try some free proxy servers like FilterByPass, Unblock My Web, ProxySite, Hide My Ass, and many more (Reference: Wikipedia).
Advantages of Proxy Server
There are lots of advantages to using a proxy server. As a business or an organization, you should know these benefits to understand how a proxy server can help you. Let’s give an eye on it.
- A proxy server helps the clients to protect their important information from getting hacked by hackers.
- A proxy server is also used in bypassing blocked websites. It happens many a time that in some offices or schools or in any organizations they blocked some of the websites for their own reasons. Also, many websites have some country restrictions. In those cases, if you want to access those websites, the proxy server will help you in doing that.
- The proxy server is also used to enhance the security and privacy level of the client’s device while doing surfing using different proxies. It helps users to browse the Internet privately; a user can keep their personal information and browsing habits private.
- Proxy server many times used for speeding up the browsing and access data, because of their good cache system.
More Advantages of Proxy Server
Before we discuss the disadvantages, let’s find some more important advantages of a proxy server:
- As the cache system of the proxy server is very good, when you access any websites using a proxy server, it is having the chance to store your desired data in their cache system. And as a result, you can access them whenever you want. So, when a request for a webpage is made, the proxy server will check if there is the most recent copy of that webpage in the cache and serves the saved copy. So, if a hundred people request the same webpage, the proxy server sends only one request. This saves bandwidth and improves network performance.
- Just like the proxy servers can be used to access restricted sites, companies can also use proxy to restrict websites and webpages. They can configure the proxy server to deny access to specific sites. If someone tries to access that site, he is redirected to a note asking to refrain from accessing that site. With a proxy, organizations can also maintain a log and monitor all web requests, and analyze how much time is being spent on specific sites.
- Apart from privacy, a proxy server also improves security. The web requests can be encrypted to avoid prying eyes from understanding your requests and transactions. It also reduces the chances of malware accessing your website and provides a secure connection to protect company data.
Disadvantages of Proxy Server
Along with all the worthy advantages, a proxy server also comes with few disadvantages. Do not use a proxy server just because everyone else is using or someone has asked you to. You do need to be cautious when you choose a proxy server as there are certain risks associated with it.
- As I discussed early, the cache system of the proxy server is very good and active. In many cases, it may happen that your passwords, or your browser websites or any secured data can easily be looked at by the proxy service provider. You may come across several free or shared options for proxies online, but they come with plenty of security threats. So it is advisable to go for a dedicated or paid one.
- It happened many a time, although using the encrypted connections or network, your data or information can be leaked using the technique of TLS and SSL encrypted connections.
- Again as we have come to know above that, with the help of proxy server you can access any blocked websites. So it is found many times that any blocked and offensive websites which are not good for students are being accessed.
- When you are using unencrypted connections with a proxy server the server can modify the responses you get, in both ways, good or bad.
You may also like: 5 Essential Reasons to Use Anonymous Proxy Servers.
Remember that while a proxy server will provide you with security and anonymity, the proxy itself has to decode your traffic to send it through. This means it can see everything you’re doing unless you use SSL connections. So, you need to invest in a proxy you can trust (Reference: TechRepublic).
So if you go for a count, the many advantages can suppress the disadvantages of using a proxy server. And it is always the truth that both advantages and disadvantages can be found in any technology. So it’s up to you to bring good advantages out of it. So go and give it a try according to your requirement.
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