What is a Proxy Server?

A proxy server acts as a middle man that forwards data requests and responses between a user and an origin server.

Proxy servers are commonly used for anonymous Web browsing, bypassing geo-restricted content, and regulating access to content. Different types of proxy servers fulfill different needs, determined by how they are configured and their classification.

As Internet-connected devices, proxies pose a number of cybersecurity risks, and users should exercise caution when using them.

Web browsing with a proxy server

Types of Proxy Servers

Proxy servers can be classified based on several factors:

  • Traffic Flow -  Forward Proxy, Reverse Proxy
  • Anonymity Level - High Anonymity Proxy (Level 1), Anonymity Proxy (Level 2), Transparent Proxy (Level 3)
  • Protocol - HTTP Proxy, HTTPS Proxy, SOCKS Proxy, SIP Proxy, SMTP Proxy, FTP Proxy, DHCP Proxy, DNS Proxy, Smart DNS Proxy, CGI Proxy
  • Accessibility - Public Proxy, Private Proxy
  • IP Location/Source - Data Centre Proxy, Residential Proxy, Mobile Proxy

What are the Benefits of Using a Proxy Server?

  • Anonymous browsing
  • Security (if the proxy is encrypted)
  • Web filtering
  • Caching
  • Changing Geo-Location

What are the Risks of Using a Proxy Server?

  • Lack of Encryption
  • Data Logging
  • Open Ports
  • Limited Privacy
  • Inconsistent Speeds

Key takeaways

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    Proxy servers facilitate requests between the user and the origin server.
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    Proxy servers do not run through secure connections unless they are encrypted.
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    Most proxies operate on open ports, which are common attack vectors.
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