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What is a Proxy Server?

The Internet is a dangerous place. With the rise of online banking and e-commerce, avoiding the internet to ensure safety is no longer an option.

To ensure that you are protecting yourself from online harm, it makes sense to invest in and use tools that give you at least a baseline security.

A proxy server is one such tool that everyone should consider using, given the advantages it brings to users. A proxy can be described as someone that is in place of another.

Proxy servers place themselves between you and the network or clients, giving you anonymity online and helping to increase your online security.

What does Proxy Server Mean?

Proxy servers are server apps that play the role of an intermediary between a client asking for a resource and the server forwarding that resource.

Rather than being connected to the server, client forwards the request to the proxy server, which assesses the request and carries out the needed network transactions.

This works as a method to simplify the complexity of the request, or provide benefits like privacy, load balancing, or security.

A proxy server essentially acts on behalf of the client when requesting service, effectively masking the true source of the request to the server.

How a Proxy Works?

A proxy server works by putting itself between the client and the network.

How A Proxy Works

Figure 1. How Proxy Works

Any request made by the client is first brought to the proxy server. The proxy server then processes the request and rallies it to the server where the information is stored. The resources are then relayed back to the proxy server and then forwarded to the client.

During this data transmission, the proxy server changes the IP address of the client, making them anonymous over the network.

Here is how you can set up a proxy server for windows:

  • Type Internet Options in the windows search bar.

Openning Internet Options on Windows

Figure 2. Opening Internet Options on Windows

  • Choose Internet Options.
  • Click on the Connection tab.

Connections Settings

Figure 3. Connections Settings

  • Pick the LAN settings by clicking on its button.

LAN Settings

Figure 4. LAN Settings

  • Scan the proxy server section. Toggle the Use proxy server for your LAN on and you will see it marked.

Proxy Settings

Figure 5. Proxy Settings

What are the Benefits of a Proxy Server?

Using a proxy server can bring a lot of benefits for everyday users and even businesses. Here are some of the main benefits of using a proxy server:

Anonymity

Anonymity is a major concern on the internet today. People want their activity online to be discreet and using a proxy server can be the simplest way to hide your activity online.

Cost effective solution

Proxy servers are a pretty basic solution which means that they are also cost effective. Other solutions like VPNs might cost you more depending on your needs and the service provider you opt for.

Baseline security level

A proxy server can provide you a baseline level of security. It does not protect you from all online threats, but it does give you an idea on where to start.

Caching

A special kind of proxy server known as caching proxy servers help speed up requests made by the same or different clients by sending resources that were already saved from a previous request.

Is it Safe to use Proxy Server?

This is a loaded question, and the short answer is that it depends on a number of things.

As a rule of thumb, proxy servers are not the safest tool that you can use. Investing in a VPN might be the smarter thing to do as it will not only make your data anonymous but it will also encrypt the data.

Most proxy servers do not encrypt data which makes them vulnerable. But if you use a proxy server from a reputable proxy server provider, then you might not have to worry about these things too much.

Why do Hackers use Proxy Servers?

Hackers can infect proxy servers and gain control of them. Once they are in control of the proxy server they have valuable information about users that includes their IP address and the data they are sending through the proxy server.

It also makes the hacker's job easier as they only need to infect one choke point, in this case the proxy server, to impact several people and entities.

What are Types of Proxy Servers?

There are different types of proxy servers that can be used. The uses for each depend on a variety of things including the level of security needed, the scenario in which the proxy server is to be used as well as the cost of the proxy server.

Here are some types of proxy servers that you should know about:

Anonymous Proxy

Anonymous proxy is a proxy server that acts as a middleman and privacy shield between the client's system and the rest of the network. It browses the internet on the user's behalf and helps by protecting personal information by hiding the client computer's identifying information.

Transparent Proxy

A transparent proxy intercepts the connection between an end-user or device and the network. It is known as transparent because it does not modify requests and responses.

Transparent proxies are also called forced proxies since they can be applied to a user`s connection without any change to their proxy settings.

Transparent proxies as a rule are set up by the operator of a network or a website. The end user does not use this proxy.

Distorting proxy

A distorting proxy server allows you to access remote websites while keeping your true identity a secret. However the sites could still find out that you're operating behind a proxy server. By forwarding along a substitute IP, distorting proxies protect you from targeted marketing and can help you bypass content restrictions.

A distorting proxy server provides an intermediary between you and the network, protecting your identity with an IP address of its own. By using this IP, it sends forward your requests to remote sites and their responses back to your system.

High Anonymity proxy

A high anonymous proxy is a type of HTTP proxy that is anonymous and is incredibly secure. Unlike anonymous proxies that keep your IP address secret but show themselves as proxies, high anonymous proxies do not identify as proxies. High anonymous proxies keep your IP address hidden and present themselves as the client in place of the actual client.

By using a high anonymous proxy, you bypass the proxy check and are given access to the resources you requested. The key differentiator is the HTTP headers in high anonymous proxies.

Shared Proxy

As the name suggests, shared proxies are a list of IPs that can be used by different people.

The thing that sets shared proxies apart from other types of proxies is that the people who use these only have a singular purpose in mind, that is to scan the internet anonymously and avoid content restrictions based on location.

Not only that but shared proxies are also inexpensive making them ideal for users that haven't clearly outlined the services they would want from a proxy server provider.

Public Proxy

Public proxies are a type of proxy that can be used by many people at the same time. For anyone that wants to experience using a proxy, public proxies might be the first type of proxy that they encounter.

The major advantage of using a public proxy is that they are either free or inexpensive. Most public proxies can be used to collect data from the internet and can easily be used by web browsers.

In terms of everything else a public proxy is lacking on most fronts. Speed and performance are questionable as is the security of the proxy.

What is a Proxy Server Used for?

A proxy server is used to be anonymous over the internet. This is done by the proxy server when it places itself between you and clients or the network.

Here are some use cases for a proxy server:

  • To be anonymous.

This is the first and most important use case for using a proxy server. If you want to be anonymous online, then using a proxy server is the easiest way to do so.

  • Bypassing filters.

Filters are often imposed by websites or by governments to restrict access to resources online. This can be avoided by using a proxy server to replace your IP with a valid IP to access a particular resource online.

  • Security.

Proxy servers put themselves in between your computer and the server. This can help prevent your computer from viruses and malware online.

Why Should You Use a Proxy Server?

One of the biggest advantages of a proxy server is that by using a proxy, the websites you visit won't be able to log your real IP address, since it will log the proxy server's IP address instead. This means that you're somewhat anonymous when you're online.

Because a proxy server hides your IP address, websites can't stop you from gaining access to them based on your location. In addition, you can also use a proxy server to bypass network restrictions that would prevent you from accessing certain content online.

Another reason why you should use a proxy server benefit is the fact that the admin can block proxy server users from accessing sites that might be dangerous.

If the admin knows a certain site has malware or is loaded with spam then they can prevent proxy users from unknowingly accessing it.

There is also an off chance that if you landed on a malicious website, any malware present on the site would infect the proxy instead of your device. But this is by no means a guarantee.

If you do not use a proxy server, the first thing that you should know is that your IP will be exposed on the internet. Hackers can use this information and do further harm to your online presence or computer system.

What is a Proxy Server Address?

A proxy server is essentially another computer on the network that has its own IP address that your computer is aware of. When your computer sends a web request, your request goes to the proxy server first and foremost. The proxy server works to make your web request on your behalf, gathers the response from the web server, and transmits to you the website page data that you can view in your browser.

When a proxy server forwards your web requests, it can potentially make changes to the information you send and still get you the information that you requested to see. A proxy server changes your IP address, so the web server doesn't know exactly where you are in terms of your IP address.A proxy server can also block access to certain websites, based on your IP address.

Proxy Server Risks

Using a proxy server does not come without risks. While they do offer the advantage of being anonymous over the internet, proxy servers can be compromised as well.

It doesn't take much to realize that proxy servers can be considered as a single point of failure. Meaning that if the proxy server is compromised, multiple users and servers may be exposed to harm.

Here are some of the risks that you should know about when using proxy servers:

Hacking attempts

As mentioned earlier, a malicious actor only needs to target the proxy server to impact several people and organizations.

The data being passed on through and by proxy servers is not encrypted most of the time, meaning that anyone who is able to compromise the proxy server is able to get access to potentially sensitive data like bank information and personal information.

Virus or spam attack

If you are not careful about the proxy provider you use, then you might be exposed to viruses and spam that may unwantedly download malicious files onto your system and cause harm. In most cases, you will find an influx of adverts when you're using a proxy server.

Identity theft

When you use a proxy server, you are voluntarily submitting your IP and host information in exchange for different credentials. In turn, your identity can be stolen and used for nefarious purposes.

Slow internet speed and lack of performance

Proxy servers handle the data sent and requested by you. This often results in a lack of performance and internet speed.

What is Reverse Proxy?

In computer networking , a reverse proxy is a type of proxy server that retrieves resources on behalf of a client from a single server or multiple servers. These resources are then returned to the client, seeming as if they originated from the reverse proxy server itself. Reverse proxy servers are mainly used to balance load.

The difference between a reverse proxy and forward proxy is simple.

A conventional forward proxy server grants access multiple clients to route traffic to an external network

In contrast, reverse proxy servers route traffic on behalf of multiple servers. The reverse proxy is essentially a gateway between clients, servers, apps, and users.

Are Proxy Servers Illegal?

In most cases, the use of proxy servers is completely legal.

Because of the pandemic, more people started using proxies as a way to facilitate remote work. Proxies are also used when you want to give your network a very basic layer of protection from malicious content. It can also be used when you are steaming content outside of your country.

But you can also unknowingly be involved in using proxy servers illegally. If you are using a proxy server to access resources over the internet that are only available to a specific group of people, then what you are doing is most definitely illegal.

It makes sense to do your research and think about your actions before you go on to the internet. A lack of information can put you in harm's way and in front of lawsuits if things get serious.

Is VPN Better than Proxy?

To keep things to the point, VPNs are better than proxies. This is due to the way they work and offer protection.

A proxy works by sending data through a server and changing its IP.

In addition to passing data through a mediating server, VPNs also offer added protection and security features like encrypting the data and working on the OS level to secure traffic.

If you have the option to use a VPN rather than a proxy, you should go for a VPN. It is more secure and gives you more protection over the internet.

Does a Proxy Hide your IP?

A proxy server works by putting itself in front of a client or network and handles incoming and outgoing requests. It works by handling traffic to you on your behalf.

In contrast to a VPN, most proxy servers will not hide your IP address. This means that not only are most proxies unreliable as compared to a VPN, but also leave you at risk of having your data exposed if it is intercepted over the network.

But proxies from reputable providers can hide your IP address by replacing it with another IP. This will give you some anonymity over the network. Keep in mind that not all proxies offer the same level of protection and functionality when picking a proxy.

How do I find my Proxy Server Address?

If you are not particularly skilled at the technical side of things, you might end up unable to access your proxy server address. But the process to find it is pretty simple.

Here is what you need to do to find your proxy server address:

  1. Type Internet Options in the windows search bar.
  2. Select Internet Options.
  3. Open the connection tab.
  4. Select the LAN settings by clicking on its button.
  5. Look at the proxy server section. Use proxy server for your LAN will be marked if you are using a proxy server.
  6. You can then see the proxy server address as well as the port being used for HTTP and HTTPS traffic.

These last couple of steps might seem a bit daunting, but all of them are really simple and easy to follow. It's the easiest way to find your proxy server address.

How to Disable Proxy Server?

Before you set a proxy server, you should also know how to disable it. In some scenarios, it will be best to access resources online through your own server.

Here is how you can disable proxy settings on Windows:

  • Click on Chrome.
  • Select Settings.
  • Pick Advanced.
  • Within the System box you will find an option to open your computer's proxy settings.
  • Turn off Automatic detect settings that you can find under Automatic proxy setup.
  • Under Manual proxy setup, turn the Use a proxy server off.
  • Save your settings.

Your proxy is now disabled and you can freely use your own servers.

What is Android Proxy Server?

Android proxy server is used to configure proxy settings over the wifi for an android device. In some cases, you might be inclined to use a proxy server on android devices. Maybe you do not have a connection to a secure internet service provider and are using the public internet.

Here is how you can configure an android proxy server:

  • Go to the settings on your android device.
  • Click on the Network & Internet option.
  • Click on the mobile network.
  • Select Advanced and then click on Access Point Names.
  • Select the currently used Access Point Name.
  • Edit your configuration details. This includes the Proxy, Port, Password and Username.
  • Turn your mobile data off and then on to use the newly set settings.

What is Python Proxy Server?

As we know that proxy servers are used to browse websites anonymously via another server. This process is done by a piece of software.

Python is one of the most popular programming languages today given its ease of use and massive community presence. It's mainly used in backend programming, data science and machine learning.

A proxy server can be coded by using python. Let's say that you want to visit a website anonymously. You should first start by importing a library called urllib. It has a function in it called urlopen that takes the URL of the website you want to visit as well as the proxy address that you want to access the website by. It's a simple but adequate proxy server written in python.

Are proxy servers free?

As with any other piece of software, not every option available on the market is going to be free. That being said, there are a number of options that you can look into and start for free.

Here are some free proxy servers that you can try out today:

  • Hide.me

Hide.me is a proxy server that you can use for free. Not only that, but unlike other proxies that suffer from a lack of performance, Hide.me actually has pretty great speed.

  • HMA

HMA is another free proxy service that comes with IP leak protection and unlimited bandwidth support.

  • VPNBook

VPNBook is a decent proxy server that you can use for free. It`s best if you use VPNBook for personal use.

While it can be nice to use a proxy server without having to pay for it, paid solutions also have their advantages. Paid proxy servers will generally have more features than free versions and might also come with better privacy and security protections.