A proxy server is a computer that intercepts and manages traffic between two devices, networks, or protocols. Proxies act as gateways between our computer and the website or internet service we are using, serving as intermediaries. They can be used as firewalls, filters, caches, or to facilitate shared network connections. This is the general definition of a proxy server, also known as a forward proxy server. Although there are various types of proxy servers, each with different functionalities, their basic task is to act on your behalf as you browse the internet.
① What is the role of a proxy server?
Proxy servers relay traffic between our devices and networks, ensuring that our browser never communicates directly with the websites we access. When we send a web request, it first goes to the proxy server. The proxy then sends our request to the relevant network server and forwards the response back to our device.
Proxies help to protect our privacy and enhance the security of local networks. Here are some other useful functions of proxy servers.
- Firewall and network filtering capabilities: We can restrict access to certain websites and protect your network from hacker attacks.
- Shared network connection: We can connect multiple devices under one network.
- Data caching: We can improve browsing speed by saving copies of websites.
② What are the types of proxy servers?
Different types of proxy servers perform this task in different ways to meet our specific needs.
⑴ Transparent Proxy
A transparent proxy tells the network server that it is a proxy and passes our real IP address, effectively identifying us to the network server. Transparent proxies are not used for security or privacy purposes. They are usually used by schools, companies, and public networks (such as libraries) for content filtering or data caching.
⑵ Distorting Proxy
A distorting proxy gives the network server a false IP address, even though it still identifies itself as a proxy. The false address provides anonymity, but the real benefit is that we can deceive the network server into thinking we are in a different location. This is how distorting proxies help us bypass geographically-based content restrictions.
Although distorting proxies add a layer of security, the drawback is that some websites will automatically block their connections.
⑶ Anonymous Proxy
An anonymous proxy will hide our IP address from the websites we access. This helps combat identity theft and allows for anonymous browsing. However, anonymous proxies still show themselves as proxy servers, and some websites may not give you access.
⑷ High Anonymity Proxy
A high anonymity proxy will periodically change the IP address it shows to the web server we are accessing. This makes it more difficult for websites to use online tracking techniques to spy on their browsing. If network security is a concern, then high anonymity proxies are the best proxy solution.
A highly anonymous proxy also does not disclose that it is a proxy working on our behalf. This ensures that our digital tracks are covered, making it the most secure type of proxy server available.
The above is an introduction to the four types of proxy servers, hoping to help everyone understand them!