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What Exactly is a Proxy, or Proxy Server?

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Last Updated on June 3, 2022

What is a Proxy?

A proxy, also called a proxy server, is simply another computer which acts as a hub that internet based requests are processed through. By linking through these kinds of servers, your computer transmits your requests to the proxy server first, which then processes your request and returns whatever reply your request was asking for. In doing this, a proxy functions as a middle-man between your local-home computer and the rest of the computers on the internet. Proxies are used with multiple objectives in mine such as accessing IP address blocked web-services, getting past geographic restrictions, as well as allow anonymity whenever surfing the web.

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of a “Proxy Server”:

In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application) 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 and the proxy server evaluates the request as a way to simplify and control its complexity. Proxies were invented to add structure and encapsulation to distributed systems. Today, most proxies are web proxies, facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web and providing anonymity.

What Exactly is a Proxy Image

Why Use a Proxy Server?

If you want to browse the web anonymously, then proxies can provide you with a way to conceal your local IP address from the remainder of the web. By connecting to the web through proxies, the home IP address of your computer will never be shown and the IP address of the proxy will be displayed instead. This will ensure that you get additional safety than if you had been just connecting straight to websites and services on the internet. There are a vast amount of proxy providers that can give you an awesome proxy service. There are some proxies which are free and some that charge money, the choice is up to you, but it’s common knowledge that the premium paid proxies are more stable, faster and more secure.

The Two Different Proxy Protocols:

HTTP(S) Proxies

HTTP Proxies are the most common proxy, and they operate on the HTTP Protocol. Because HTTP Proxies operate on the HTTP protocol and can understand the data being transferred through them, they are considered “High-Level” or “Smart” proxies. HTTP Proxies with the CONNECT ability which allows them to establish secure tunnels are referred to as HTTPS Proxies.

SOCKS4/5 Proxies

SOCKS Proxies are the older and less common proxy protocol. SOCKS proxies are TCP/IP based and therefore can not understand the data being passed through them, and are therefore called “Dumb” or “Low-Level” proxies. There are two versions of SOCKS proxies, SOCKS4 version and SOCKS5 version. SOCKS4 is the older of the two versions, SOCKS5 is newer and has more security features.

To learn more about the different proxy protocols, click here.

Here are the Four Main Types of Proxies:

Transparent Proxies

This kind of proxy reveals itself as a proxy server and also makes the original IP address apparent via the http headers. These are usually utilized for their ability to cache data and do not effectively give any anonymity to those who use them. Although, the use of a transparent proxy will bypass simple IP bans. They are called transparent because your IP address is transparent.

Anonymous Proxies

This type of proxy reveals itself as a proxy server, but does not make the user’s original IP address available. This type of proxy server is detectable, but provides decent anonymity for most people.

Distorting Proxies

This kind of proxy reveals itself as a proxy server, but reveals a bogus originating IP address apparent via the http headers. They are generally considered the same level of anonymity as an Anonymous proxy.

Elite/High-Anonymous Proxies

This kind of proxy does not proclaim itself as a proxy server and does not make available the originating IP address.

To learn more about the different levels of proxy anonymity, click here.

What a Proxy is, TLDR

So, in closing, a proxy is just another computer that your internet traffic is tunneled through. By sending your internet through a tunnel to another computer, the IP address of the proxy server is what websites will see instead of your real home IP address. There are different levels of “being anonymous” that proxies can provide, and some applications and software might need a different type of proxy than the one used for browsing websites. 👍

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