Define Web Proxy

Define Web Proxy

What is a Proxy Server and How Does it Work? – Varonis

The actual nuts and bolts of how the internet works are not something people often stop to consider. The problem with that is the inherent danger of data security breaches and identity theft that come along with the cute dog pictures, 24-hour news updates, and great deals online.
But what actually happens when you browse the web? You might be using a proxy server at your office, on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or you could be one of the more tech-savvy who always use a proxy server of some kind or another.
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What’s a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is any machine that translates traffic between networks or protocols. It’s an intermediary server separating end-user clients from the destinations that they browse. Proxy servers provide varying levels of functionality, security, and privacy depending on your use case, needs, or company policy.
If you’re using a proxy server, traffic flows through the proxy server on its way to the address you requested. The request then comes back through that same proxy server (there are exceptions to this rule), and then the proxy server forwards the data received from the website to you.
If that’s all it does, why bother with a proxy server? Why not just go straight from to the website and back?
Modern proxy servers do much more than forward 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. Lastly, proxy servers can provide a high level of privacy.
How Does a Proxy Server Operate?
Every computer on the internet needs to have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) Address. Think of this IP address as your computer’s street address. Just as the post office knows to deliver your mail to your street address, the internet knows how to send the correct data to the correct computer by the IP address.
A proxy server is basically a computer on the internet with its own IP address that your computer knows. When you send a web request, your request goes to the proxy server first. The proxy server then makes your web request on your behalf, collects the response from the web server, and forwards you the web page data so you can see the page in your browser.
When the proxy server forwards your web requests, it can make changes to the data you send and still get you the information that you expect to see. A proxy server can change your IP address, so the web server doesn’t know exactly where you are in the world. It can encrypt your data, so your data is unreadable in transit. And lastly, a proxy server can block access to certain web pages, based on IP address.
What are Forward Proxies
A forward proxy server sits between the client and an external network. It evaluates the outbound requests and takes action on them before relaying that request to the external resource.
Most proxy services that you’re likely to encounter are forward proxies. Virtual Private Networks and Web content filters are both examples of forward proxies.
What are Reverse Proxies
A reverse proxy server sits between a network and multiple other internal resources. A large website might have dozens of servers that collectively serve requests from a single domain. To accomplish that, client requests would resolve to a machine that would act as a load balancer. The load balancer would then proxy that traffic back to the individual servers.
Some popular open source reverse proxies are:
Why Should You Use a Proxy Server?
There are several reasons organizations and individuals use a proxy server.
To control internet usage of employees and children: Organizations and parents set up proxy servers to control and monitor how their employees or kids use the internet. Most organizations don’t want you looking at specific websites on company time, and they can configure the proxy server to deny access to specific sites, instead redirecting you with a nice note asking you to refrain from looking at said sites on the company network. They can also monitor and log all web requests, so even though they might not block the site, they know how much time you spend cyberloafing.
Bandwidth savings and improved speeds: Organizations can also get better overall network performance with a good proxy server. Proxy servers can cache (save a copy of the website locally) popular websites – so when you ask for, the proxy server will check to see if it has the most recent copy of the site, and then send you the saved copy. What this means is that when hundreds of people hit at the same time from the same proxy server, the proxy server only sends one request to This saves bandwidth for the company and improves the network performance.
Privacy benefits: Individuals and organizations alike use proxy servers to browse the internet more privately. Some proxy servers will change the IP address and other identifying information the web request contains. This means the destination server doesn’t know who actually made the original request, which helps keeps your personal information and browsing habits more private.
Improved security: Proxy servers provide security benefits on top of the privacy benefits. You can configure your proxy server to encrypt your web requests to keep prying eyes from reading your transactions. You can also prevent known malware sites from any access through the proxy server. Additionally, organizations can couple their proxy server with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), so remote users always access the internet through the company proxy. A VPN is a direct connection to the company network that companies provide to external or remote users. By using a VPN, the company can control and verify that their users have access to the resources (email, internal data) they need, while also providing a secure connection for the user to protect the company data.
Get access to blocked resources: Proxy servers allow users to circumvent content restrictions imposed by companies or governments. Is the local sportsball team’s game blacked out online? Log into a proxy server on the other side of the country and watch from there. The proxy server makes it look like you are in California, but you actually live in North Carolina. Several governments around the world closely monitor and restrict access to the internet, and proxy servers offer their citizens access to an uncensored internet.
Now that you have an idea about why organizations and individuals use a proxy server, take a look at the risks below.
Proxy Server Risks
You do need to be cautious when you choose a proxy server: a few common risks can negate any of the potential benefits:
Free proxy server risks
You know the old saying “you get what you pay for? ” Well, using one of the many free proxy server services can be quite risky, even the services using ad-based revenue models.
Free usually means they aren’t investing heavily in backend hardware or encryption. You’ll likely see performance issues and potential data security issues. If you ever find a completely “free” proxy server, tread very carefully. Some of those are just looking to steal your credit card numbers.
Browsing history log
The proxy server has your original IP address and web request information possibly unencrypted, saved locally. Make sure to check if your proxy server logs and saves that data – and what kind of retention or law enforcement cooperation policies they follow.
If you expect to use a proxy server for privacy, but the vendor is just logging and selling your data you might not be receiving the expected value for the service.
No encryption
If you use a proxy server without encryption, you might as well not use a proxy server. No encryption means you are sending your requests as plain text. Anyone who is listening will be able to pull usernames and passwords and account information really easily. Make sure whatever proxy server you use provides full encryption capability.
Types of Proxy Servers
Not all proxy servers work the same way. It’s important to understand exactly what functionality you’re getting from the proxy server, and ensure that the proxy server meets your use case.
Transparent Proxy
A transparent proxy tells websites that it is a proxy server and it will still pass along your IP address, identifying you to the web server. Businesses, public libraries, and schools often use transparent proxies for content filtering: they’re easy to set up both client and server side.
Anonymous Proxy
An anonymous proxy will identify itself as a proxy, but it won’t pass your IP address to the website – this helps prevent identity theft and keep your browsing habits private. They can also prevent a website from serving you targeted marketing content based on your location. For example, if knows you live in Raleigh, NC, they will show you news stories they feel are relevant to Raleigh, NC. Browsing anonymously will prevent a website from using some ad targeting techniques, but is not a 100% guarantee.
Distorting proxy
A distorting proxy server passes along a false IP address for you while identifying itself as a proxy. This serves similar purposes as the anonymous proxy, but by passing a false IP address, you can appear to be from a different location to get around content restrictions.
High Anonymity proxy
High Anonymity proxy servers periodically change the IP address they present to the web server, making it very difficult to keep track of what traffic belongs to who. High anonymity proxies, like the TOR Network, is the most private and secure way to read the internet.
Proxy servers are a hot item in the news these days with the controversies around Net Neutrality and censorship. By removing net neutrality protections in the United States, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are now able to control your bandwidth and internet traffic. ISPs can potentially tell you what sites you can and cannot see. While there’s a great amount of uncertainty around what is going to happen with Net Neutrality, it’s possible that proxy servers will provide some ability to work around an ISPs restrictions.
Varonis analyzes data from proxy servers to protect you from data breaches and cyber attacks. The addition of proxy data gives more context to better analyze user behavior trends for abnormalities. You can get an alert on that suspicious activity with actionable intelligence to investigate and deal with the incident.
For example, a user accessing GDPR data might not be significant on its own. But if they access GDPR data and then try to upload it to an external website, it could be an exfiltration attempt and potential data breach. Without the context provided by file system monitoring, proxy monitoring, and Varonis threat models, you might see these events in a vacuum and not realize you need to prevent a data breach.
Get a 1:1 demo to see these threat models in action – and see what your proxy data could be telling you.
What Is a Web Proxy and How Does It Work? | HideMyAss Blog

What Is a Web Proxy and How Does It Work? | HideMyAss Blog

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BlogPost 31567921702 What Is a Web Proxy and How Does It Work?
You’ve probably heard the term before, but what exactly is a web proxy? And how does it help you browse anonymously and access blocked content? Read on, and you’ll be sneaking around content blocks and hiding better than a chameleon in no time.
What is an anonymous web proxy?
Just to up the confusion factor on ya, there are a few similar, yet different terms we’re discussing here. So let’s get it straight before we move on:
A proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary between your computer and the rest of the internet. Because you connect first to the proxy server, and then the proxy accesses your desired site on your behalf, you’re able to conceal your identity — which means hiding your IP address and geographic location.
A web proxy is a tool that facilitates your connection to a proxy server. Some sites offer a free web proxy to help you connect to their proxy server and browse anonymously.
A web proxy browser extension is like a web proxy, but it resides conveniently in your browser, so it’s always there whenever you want to use it.
How does a web proxy work?
Using a web proxy is pretty intuitive. First, type in the address of the free web proxy tool. Once you’re on the web proxy provider’s site, there will be a field where you can enter the website that you want to visit and select the server location you want to use. The web proxy then routes this request through your chosen proxy server.
The proxy server searches its cache of all the previous pages you’ve looked at. If it finds your current request in its memory, it’ll send it back to you without having to go onto the public internet.
If it doesn’t find it, the server will then use one of its own IP addresses to request the page you want to view. The website that hosts this page sees only your server’s IP address (not yours) and sends the page data to the server, which then forwards it on to you.
This process can happen so fast that it’s invisible, or there can be some noticeable delays, depending on the quality of the web proxy and how many people are using it. If you’re lucky, you wouldn’t even know that your computer had a stand-in if you hadn’t set it up yourself in the first place.
But using a web proxy tool does mean that you need to navigate to the tool’s website first every time you want to visit another site. It also means the proxy works only in that one tab. An easier solution is to download a web proxy extension, which sits conveniently in your browser. So it’s always there, ready and waiting anytime you need to hide your IP address or unblock a site due to content blocks, work restrictions, or any other reason.
How safe are web proxies?
It’s important to remember that nothing is 100% safe on the internet, and web proxies are no exception.
Many free proxies skimp on security and privacy features. If you’re considering using a free proxy tool, check and see if it uses encryption. If it doesn’t, then your internet traffic is an open book to hackers and advertisers. Unencrypted proxies are particularly unsafe to use on public Wi-Fi networks, since other people on the network can spy on your unprotected traffic with a little bit of hacker know-how.
Additionally, the proxy servers themselves may be vulnerable to hacking. If the administrators of the proxy server aren’t following basic cybersecurity standards, such as keeping their software up-to-date, then everything on those servers is up for grabs — and your IP address can be revealed to the world.
And while proxies block advertisers and your ISP (internet service provider) from seeing what you’re doing, the proxy server provider can see all your activity. That’s why it’s important to use a trustworthy proxy with a solid reputation and good user reviews.
HMA’s free proxy extension for Chrome or for Firefox encrypts your browser connection to protect your personal info. It sits conveniently in your browser, ready to provide anonymous browsing and ferry you around geographic content blocks anytime you need it. Choose from a variety of locations, then stream videos and download files easily.
Best uses of a free web proxy tool or extension
A free web proxy provides oodles of goodness:
Browse anonymously: Block your ISP, advertisers, and governments from seeing what you’re doing online.
Unblock geo-restricted content and avoid fees: Some streaming sites provide free content in one location, but charge a fee in another — or block access entirely. You can avoid that mess by using a proxy.
Surf faster: A proxy saves (“caches”) the sites you visit, which lets it load them very quickly the next time you return to the same site.
But remember that most free proxies only provide these benefits in a single tab that you need to navigate to every time you want to do anything. That’s why HMA’s free proxy browser extension is much more convenient, if we do say so ourselves.
What sites can you access with a proxy?
What can you access with a free web proxy? A better question might be, what can’t you access?! Social media, streaming platforms, news, sites blocked by geographic or work/school restrictions, sites of an “intimate” nature… go nuts!
That said, some sites may not work well with proxies. And some sites keep a list of IP addresses associated with proxy servers in order to block requests coming from those addresses if detected. That’s just one reason why a full VPN provides much more reliable results.
Isn’t a proxy just a VPN?
It sure isn’t! While proxies have some things in common with VPNs (virtual private networks), there are several important differences. A proxy is like a free light beer — it’ll get the job done, it’s free, and hey — it is still a beer! But if a proxy is a light beer, then a VPN is an expertly crafted cocktail, perfectly suited to your refined tastes.
How so? Well, for a start, a web proxy works only within your browser and nowhere else, which means it only anonymizes your web browsing. A VPN works on all kinds of devices, and encrypts your full connection to the internet. You can even put a VPN on your router so that all devices you have get VPN protection. And a VPN on mobile protects you any time you use your online banking app or other sensitive internet activity outside of a browser.
You can also use a VPN with a smart TV or use your Xbox over a VPN to get around content blocks and stream on the big screen.
A proxy is a quick and convenient solution to help unblock sites, but has pretty limited functionality. And if governments and companies really want to find out who you are, they can do so without too much trouble. So VPNs aren’t just for the next Edward Snowden — if you value your online privacy, VPNs make it much more difficult for would-be snoopers to track your activity across the web.
And VPNs — good ones, at least, like the expertly crafted cocktail that is the HMA VPN — provide tons of extra features. HMA VPN offers 1000 servers in 290 locations across 190 countries, servers that are optimized for streaming, protection against DNS leaks, 24/7 customer support, and more.
To dig deeper into the differences (and learn about one additional anonymous browsing option), check out our full review of Proxy vs. VPN vs. Smart DNS.
Browse privately with HMA
Ready to commit but still not sure if you should go with a proxy or a VPN? For the ultimate privacy and access experience, give HMA VPN a whirl. With our 30-day money-back guarantee, you can give it a spin risk-free.
Or head straight to our free web proxy extension to start browsing anonymously for the low, low price of zilch. You can choose HMA’s free proxy extension for Chrome or for Firefox to encrypt your browser connection and protect your super-sensitive data. Our proxy extension sits snugly in your browser, ready to carry you around geo-blocks anytime you need it. Choose from a variety of locations to stream videos and download files quickly and easily.
What is a Web Proxy Server? | Forcepoint

What is a Web Proxy Server? | Forcepoint

There are several reasons to use web proxy servers as an individual or an organization.
Control internet access
As an individual, you can use proxy servers to control and monitor your children’s internet access. It works to block unfavorable sites and lock them out of adult content. Organizations also use proxy servers to limit and control internet access. They do this to avoid employees looking at various sites while at work. Alternatively, they log all web requests, which indicates what sites employees are visiting and how much time they spend cyberloafing.
Privacy benefits
Proxy servers allow users to browse the internet more privately by changing your IP address and other identifying data on your computer. Proxy servers keep your personal information private, so the server does not know who has made the request and thus keeps your browsing activities and browsing history private.
Access to blocked sites
Content providers put restrictions on their content for various reasons, such as locations, which is essentially the IP addresses. However, a web proxy server allows you to log on to a restricted server by making it seem like you are at a different location.
Improved speeds and bandwidth savings
Organizations can save on bandwidth and improve loading speeds by using efficient web proxy servers. Proxy servers cache images and web data to keep the latest copy of a website. The caches allow a proxy server to retrieve the most recent copy of popular sites, which saves on bandwidth and improves network performance.
Improved security
Efficient proxy servers encrypt your web requests to protect them from prying eyes and protect your transactions. Proxy servers also work to prevent intrusion from known malware sites. Organizations also add to VPN’s to increase security and allow remote users to access the company network.
Web proxy servers play a significant role in cybersecurity for both individual and organizational use. With increased internet use, there is a rising need to protect your data, keep away malware and viruses, protect personal information and data, and enable access to a wide range of information. Web proxy servers help increase browsing speeds by caching web pages, offering bandwidth, and providing heightened security measures.

Frequently Asked Questions about define web proxy

What is web proxy?

A web proxy is a tool that facilitates your connection to a proxy server. Some sites offer a free web proxy to help you connect to their proxy server and browse anonymously. A web proxy browser extension is like a web proxy, but it resides conveniently in your browser, so it’s always there whenever you want to use it.

What is web proxy and example?

A proxy server is a web server that acts as a gateway between a client application, for example, a browser, and the real server. … Additionally, there are proxy servers that sit between web servers and web clients known as a reverse proxy. Reverse proxy servers pass on requests from web clients to web servers.

What is web proxy and how it works?

A proxy server is basically a computer on the internet with its own IP address that your computer knows. … The proxy server then makes your web request on your behalf, collects the response from the web server, and forwards you the web page data so you can see the page in your browser.May 7, 2021

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