To counteract this, businesses can implement a proxy server as a conduit to field requests, balance the load, and protect their origin servers. Keep in mind that forward proxies must be manually set up in order to be used, whereas reverse proxies can go unnoticed by the client. Depending on whether the IP address of a client is passed on to the origin server by the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity can be granted or left transparent. Generally speaking, the combined package of server hardware with installed proxy software is also often referred to as a proxy server. However, this article will focus on proxies traditionally defined as software, and in the context of web servers. You will get a breakdown of the two main types, a forward proxy and a reverse proxy.

proxy explained

Forward proxies can also be anonymous and allow users to hide their IP address while browsing the Web or using other Internet services. For example, Tor routes internet traffic through multiple proxies for anonymity. “A ‘transparent proxy’ is a proxy that does not modify the request or response beyond what is required for proxy authentication and identification”. Most SOCKS proxy servers support SHH, which enables secure connections with apps that also support SHH. It’s important to note that even with SHH enabled, SOCKS proxies do not guarantee anonymity. An anonymous proxy (also called a distorting proxy) conceals a user’s real IP address when they visit a website.

Anonymous Proxy

Many HTTP proxies are free and monetize their services by injecting ads into the unsecured connection. They can be used to hide geographical location, avoid targeted marketing, or access sites that are censored in the user’s actual location. If the proxy allows the user’s request, it forwards it to the web server through the firewall. Forward proxies are configured to either ‘allow’ or ‘deny’ the user’s request to pass through the firewall to access content on the Internet. Proxy servers work by facilitating web requests and responses between a user and web server.

A reverse proxy server, sometimes called a surrogate proxy, works in the opposite direction as a forward proxy. Instead of a user requesting data from the internet, a reverse proxy passes requests from the internet to users in an internal network. Larger websites and content delivery networks are the most common customers of reverse proxies, and users generally access these via the open internet over un-proxied connections. Modern proxy servers do much more than forwarding web requests, all in the name of data security and network performance. Proxy servers act as a firewall and web filter, provide shared network connections, and cache data to speed up common requests. A good proxy server keeps users and the internal network protected from the bad stuff that lives out in the wild internet.

Cyber security Evolution

For example, JPEG files could be blocked based on fleshtone matches, or language filters could dynamically detect unwanted language. If the content is rejected then an HTTP fetch error may be returned to the requester. The safety of a proxy ultimately comes down to proxy type and server configuration.

proxy explained

The translations used in a translation proxy can be either machine translation, human translation, or a combination of machine and human translation. Different translation proxy implementations have different capabilities. Some allow further customization of the source site for the local audiences such as excluding the source content or substituting the source content with the original local content. Many workplaces, schools, and colleges restrict web sites and online services that are accessible and available in their buildings. It is important to note that these benefits are dependent on the proxy’s type and configuration.


Some of them contain public or shared proxies that could expose your data. Data center proxies are not affiliated with an internet service provider (ISP) but are provided by another corporation through a data center. The proxy server exists in a physical data center, and the user’s requests are routed through that server. A forward proxy sits in front of clients and is used to get data to groups of users within an internal network.

Practical use cases and an exploration of beneficial features was used to differentiate forward proxies and reverse proxies. If you’d like to explore implementation of proxies, you can check out our guide on how to configure Nginx as a web server and reverse proxy for Apache on one Ubuntu 20.04 Server. Instead, a better way to differentiate between forward and reverse proxies is to examine the needs of the application you’re building. This article will provide you with an understanding of what proxies and their subtypes are, and how they are useful in common setups. By reading this article, you will be able to identify the circumstances in which a proxy is beneficial, and choose the correct solution between forward proxy and reverse proxy in any given situation. It works by giving users access to its IP address, hiding their identity as they visit sites.

FAQs about Proxy Servers

It is a server, referred to as an “intermediary” because it goes between end-users and the web pages they visit online. Discussions about proxy servers are often in the context of cybersecurity. That’s because, as a general rule, proxy servers are used to mask the location or identity of an end user on the internet. The I2P anonymous network (‘I2P’) is a proxy network aiming at online anonymity. It implements garlic routing, which is an enhancement of Tor’s onion routing.

proxy explained

Public proxies are best suited for users for whom cost is a major concern and security and speed are not. Although they are free and easily accessible, they are often slow because they get bogged down with free users. When you use a public proxy, you also run an increased risk of having your information accessed by others on the internet. Data center proxies are a good choice for people who need quick response times and an inexpensive solution. They are therefore a good choice for people who need to gather intelligence on a person or organization very quickly. They carry the benefit of giving users the power to swiftly and inexpensively harvest data.

Additionally, removing the responsibility of interfacing with a firewall and interfacing with client requests away from web servers allows them to focus solely on serving resources. Content filtering proxy servers will often support user authentication to control web access. It also usually produces logs, either to give detailed information about the proxy uses URLs accessed by specific users or to monitor bandwidth usage statistics. A CGI (Common Gateway Interface) proxy is a type of web proxy server that allows users to access websites anonymously via a web form. As CGI proxies are web-based, they allow users to access the proxy’s services on devices or networks that do not allow proxy configurations.

proxy explained

This examines the data going in and out of your computer or network. It then applies rules to prevent you from having to expose your digital address to the world. Without your personal IP address, people on the internet do not have direct access to your personal data, schedules, apps, or files. When navigating through different networks of the Internet, proxy servers and HTTP tunnels are facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web. A proxy can be on the user’s local computer, or anywhere between the user’s computer and a destination server on the Internet.

How to Get a Proxy

CGI-based proxies (Common Gateway Interface) are found in web-based proxy servers that allow you to use the proxy’s features through your browser or internet client. Some proxies are embedded within applications, but CGI proxies work strictly from the web browser. In the case of multiple servers existing behind a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy also handles directing which requests go to which server. Multiple web servers might be serving the same resource, each serving different kinds of resources, or some combination of the two. These servers can use the HTTP protocol as a conventional web server, but can also include application server protocols such as FastCGI. You can configure a reverse proxy to direct clients to specific servers depending on the resource requested, or to follow certain rules regarding traffic load.

  • Identifies the originating IP addresses of a client connecting to a web server through an HTTP proxy or a load balancer.
  • “Varonis is a top choice for organizations prioritizing deep data visibility, classification capabilities, and automated remediation for data access.”
  • Additionally, removing the responsibility of interfacing with a firewall and interfacing with client requests away from web servers allows them to focus solely on serving resources.
  • Tunneling transmits private network data and protocol information through public network by encapsulating the data.