A proxy server, or web proxy, is a device or software that acts as an intermediary between a computer or corporate network and the external network. A web proxy can reside on the same computer or on a separate server. A proxy server can serve many purposes, depending on the type of user.
For home users, a the pirate bay is a tool that allows anonymous browsing, to be able to access blocked content on the Internet, either for geographical reasons (geo-blocking) or censorship.
However, in a business environment, it is where a proxy server becomes much more important, contributing to critical tasks such as controlling company network traffic, increasing performance, saving bandwidth and company security.
How does a web proxy work?
In general, the operation of a proxy server is quite simple: when a user makes a request for a resource on the Internet (such as a web page), the proxy searches its local cache of previously visited pages.
If the resource is cached, it is sent to the user without the need to search the Internet for it. Otherwise, the proxy server makes the request for the resource on behalf of the user, but with its own IP, hiding the origin.
Types of webproxy
There are two main types of proxy servers:
- “Forward” type proxy: they intercept requests for web pages from users of a company network and carry out network protection tasks, improve performance and apply Internet use policies in the company.
- “Reverse” type proxy: they are responsible for guaranteeing security and performance, managing requests from the Internet to the organization’s servers.
Also, depending on how it handles Http requests, a proxy can be:
- Transparent – does not hide the real IP and also modifies the Http request field. It is a type of proxy used to monitor and manage network traffic and to increase performance and never for security reasons.
- Anonymous: hides the real IP address, but modifies the Http request field, so its use can be easily detected. It can be used to improve privacy and to protect against attacks.
- Completely Anonymous – Hides the real IP address and does not change the Http request field that is received as if it came from a real browser. Examples of this type of proxy are I2P (Invisible Internet Project) and the TOR network (The Onion Router).
Advantages of using a web proxy in my company
All types of proxy servers provide significant benefits to a business. A “pirate proxy” type proxy can help our company to:
Control the use of the Internet by our employees, restricting access to certain domains, applications or protocols (for example streaming).
Increase security, controlling traffic to dangerous or malware-infected sites, as well as being able to track employee activity to control possible illegal activities or security breaches.
Anonymize traffic, which allows us to reduce the amount of information about our network and its users that would otherwise be available to any hacker.
Increase performance, by caching (storing) the web pages most frequently visited by users, traffic compression and removal of website ads, saving bandwidth.
On the other hand, a “reverse” type proxy provides us with the following advantages:
It protects us from attacks, adding an additional layer of security between our servers – and the data they contain – and external traffic, making it more difficult – although not impossible – for hackers to reach the servers and the data stored or to perpetuate attacks of type DoS (denial of service).
It balances the incoming traffic to the different servers in which the content and data of our website are stored, creating a single access point that redistributes the requests to each server so that they are not overloaded.
It compresses large file requests coming from clients, as well as responses to them, slowing down load times and reducing the bandwidth required.
It offers geolocated services, such as: discriminating advertisements according to certain geographical regions, offering translation and localization of web pages in different languages, etc.
How to get the most out of a web proxy
If we want to guarantee the security of our company, a proxy server is a good option, although if we want to make the most of its advantages, we will have to associate it with other useful tools such as:
A Virtual Private Network pirate bay proxy(VPN), which allows a secure and encrypted communication channel to be established between the company network and a computer located in another location, through the public Internet. A VPN is a solution to enable our employees to work remotely while maintaining security.
A Firewall is also used to protect the internal network of our company, but, unlike the proxy, it does so by blocking unauthorized ports and programs.
In addition, in any case, we must have expert personnel or specialized external advisors to take into account the technical tasks of its installation, configuration and management, as well as the possible legal implications related to the privacy of our employees or clients.
Proxyweb: Where to start?
If we want to benefit from the advantages of a web proxy, perhaps we can start by using free and open source software. In this sense, Squid is one of the most used and popular proxies, and it is published as free software under the GNU GPL license. Squid supports HTTP, HTTPS, FTP and runs on most available operating systems, including Windows and Mac OS.
In conclusion, a proxy server is essential for any company that wants to implement a layer of control and security between what happens on its local network and the external network.