In the world today, all of us are connected via the Internet and our devices. Whether we use a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, we are connected to the Internet. To get information from the Internet, our device sends out a request and receives the data back. This two-way traffic exposes our devices to those with malicious intent on the Internet.
This is where a proxy comes in. It is the link between us and the rest of the Internet. When we use a proxy server or a proxy, as it is commonly known, we are using the proxy like a middleman. So all the traffic to and from the Internet passes through the proxy.
At a very basic level, a proxy server is just an intermediary between a user and the internet.
How does a proxy operate?
The proxy is like a gatekeeper. When our device requests information, the request is passed to the proxy. The proxy may have the information already cached or saved from a previous search and will send the information back to us. Or it will request the Internet for the information. When it gets the information back, it passes it on to us.
So, we are not directly in touch with the Internet. We are connected to the proxy, which is connected to the web. This is the power of a proxy server. It makes it seem as if the request is coming from a completely different location.
This setup has many advantages as we will see later on.
Main types of proxies
There are many types of proxies out there. Let us have a look at them.
- Anonymous Proxies hide your IP address and are used more than Transparent Proxies. Anonymous Proxies can either be Residential Proxies or Data Center Proxies. Residential proxies have the IP address of a computer in an actual home. Residential proxies can hide your location. They are used to overcome geo-restrictions. Data Center proxies have computer-generated IP addresses. Data Center proxies also offer Rotating proxies where the IP addresses keep rotating or changing making it even more difficult to trace. They offer extremely high speeds. Anonymous proxies, especially Residential proxies are very hard to detect. They hide your IP address and can be used to overcome geo-restrictions.
- Transparent Proxies are the simplest and weakest of proxies. When using a transparent proxy, it is easy to know that a request is being made through a proxy. Your internet protocol (IP) address or location information can also be traced using this kind of proxy. It has very simple uses.
- Public Proxies are usually very unreliable. In most cases, they are set up by hackers who want to steal users’ confidential information like passwords and card details. Of course, finding a reliable public proxy is very difficult.
- Shared Proxies are proxies shared by a group of people who share the cost. However, they can be very slow because of the number of people using them.
- Dedicated Proxies are similar to shared proxies but are used by one person.
There are a few other types of proxies as well, but the ones described above are the more common ones.
Main benefits of using proxies
There are many benefits of using proxies. First of all, proxies can help improve security so that your confidential information remains confidential and is not freely available to hackers. Companies and businesses use proxies, firewalls, and VPNs to keep their data safe from malicious hackers, competitors, and viruses.
Using proxies can help keep you anonymous. This helps in keeping your personal information safe. At the same time, because you are anonymous, your browsing habits cannot be traced so you do not get pesky ads.
One of the more interesting uses has to be unlocking geo-restricted content. Some websites do not allow access to their content if you are from a different location. For example, a user in India may not be able to access content in Brazil. However, to access restricted Brazilian content from India you could use Brazil proxy. Using a Brazil proxy would ‘fool’ the servers into thinking that you are based in Brazil, and you would be able to access their content. Visit Oxylabs’ website for more information about Brazil proxy and how to bypass geo-restrictions.
A company or business can use proxies to block their employees from visiting certain sites during working hours. They can also find out how much time employees are using in browsing such sites.
Proxies are like a gateway to the Internet. Usually, they can be used to protect users from harmful elements on the Internet. At the same time, they can help protect you by keeping you anonymous and keeping your important data safe. Many people also use proxies to overcome geo-restrictions. This way they can access information that would otherwise not be available to them.