How does a Proxy Server function?

What is a Proxy Server?

A proxy server is a server program that acts as an intermediary between a client requesting a resource and the server that provides the requested resource. All requests to the Internet are routed through the proxy server, examining them before forwarding them to the Internet. Similarly, responses are forwarded through the proxy server before reaching the user.

  • Modern Proxy servers do a lot more than just transmit online requests; they also serve as a firewall and web filter, share network connections, and cache data to speed up common requests.

  • Proxy servers can be used to establish a firewall to prevent intruders from infiltrating a private network.

  • Proxy servers also offer anonymity. Like a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a proxy server hides the user's IP address while they access the Internet.

  • Proxy servers can also be used to reduce or control the complexity of the request and provide additional benefits like load balancing, privacy, or security.

How Does a Proxy Work?

A proxy server has its IP address and acts as a connection point between the client and the Internet. The client's computer is aware of the proxy server's IP address. When a client makes an internet request, the request is redirected to the proxy. The proxy server then receives the answer from the destination or targeted server/site and transmits the page's data to the client's browser.

In general, the proxy server accesses the targeted site on behalf of the client and collects all requested information before forwarding it to the user (client). The proxy server's operation is depicted in the diagram below.

Why You Should Use a Proxy Server

  • Privacy benefits – Some proxy servers will alter the web request's IP address and other identifying information. This means that the destination server has no idea who made the initial request or where you are in the world, which helps to keep your personal information and surfing habits hidden.

  • Improved security – You can configure your proxy server to encrypt your data and web requests, making your data unreadable in transit and protecting your transactions from prying eyes. You can also utilize the proxy server to block access to sites that are known to contain malware.

  • To control internet usage – Based on IP address, a proxy server might deny access to certain online pages. Proxy servers can be configured to block access to specified websites. Even if they don't prohibit the site, they can monitor and track all online requests, so they know how much time you spend cyberloafing.

  • Bandwidth savings and improved speed – Popular websites can be cached (a copy of the webpage is saved locally on a proxy server) and then sent to you. This saves bandwidth and enhances network performance.

  • Get access to blocked resources – Proxy servers enable users to bypass content restrictions imposed by businesses or governments by simply connecting to a server in another country and accessing the website.

To conclude, a proxy server acts as a gateway between you and the Internet and provides additional benefits such as privacy and security.