If you’ve worked for a company, school, or any other institution, chances are you have used a web proxy before. Even though you may have heard about it severally, you have probably never stopped to ask the nuts and bolts of how it works and why you need it.
Well, the internet is no longer a safe environment as it was a couple of decades ago. Nowadays, identity theft and data breaches are the order of the day. Businesses and institutions with an online presence have had to up their security game to protect internal and customer data.
There’re lots of ways to ensure your online activity is secure and private. One of the best options to consider is a proxy, and its importance cannot be overstated in today’s online environment. This article defines what a proxy is and looks into why you may need it.
Here is all the information you need.
Table of Contents
What’s a Proxy Server?
In a layman’s language, proxy servers are bridges between internet users and the websites they browse. An internet user browsing without a proxy has a direct interaction with a website. When using a proxy server, you let it communicate with the website by sending requests on your behalf.
Acting as a gateway, a proxy server directs your traffic through it all the way to the address you want to access. The response from the server also comes back to you through this same channel. Remember that there’s encryption throughout this channel, and that’s what protects your data.
But then, you may be wondering why it is vital to use a proxy server rather than access websites directly. Well, there are various types of people and software on the internet. You do not know who’s on the network you’re looking to access and whether they’re there genuinely or with malicious intent.
Thus, it is vital to take precautions by protecting your data using the right software. Besides, competitors and other malicious people could be tracking your business activity to weaken you. A proxy enhances your privacy and makes it easy to avoid tracking and stay on top of your game.
How Proxies Work
Before investing in a proxy, you need to take time to understand how it works. Although they’re known to transmit web requests to servers, proxies do more than that in today’s online environment. Proxies improve data security and make online performance more efficient in several ways.
Every computer, smartphone, or any other device connected to the internet has an identity known as an IP address. This address is unique to every device and can show what an internet user does on the internet and the applications or websites they click on.
Thus, a proxy server acts as a computer with a unique address like any other. It also doesn’t have to send the request as-is from your end. It can alter your request but still gather the right response and display it on your device.
For privacy, a proxy changes your location and makes it difficult for anyone to note where you’re browsing from. Even hackers using the most sophisticated software cannot track the Ip address to your device. That gives you the privacy and protection required in today’s online environment.
Lastly, a proxy server offers the most effective encryption you can ever find. It makes your data difficult to read when in transit to and from the webserver. It can also help to block you from accessing harmful websites that could contain spammy links and software.
Why Use Proxies?
There’re various benefits that businesses get by using proxies to access the internet. The internet today has over 1.83 billion websites, some that are good and others bad. An organization that values online security should protect its network by accessing the internet through a reliable proxy.
Here are some benefits of doing so.
To control internet usage
A school or company may use a proxy to control internet usage on their premises. School-going kids need to get protected from websites with harmful content such as pornography. Employees, on the other hand, need to stick to their schedules and avoid distractive browsing.
A proxy is the best tool for any school or organization looking to control internet usage. You can configure it to block requests to specific sites from computers at school or work. That will ensure employees work productively and students learn.
To improve security
You can enhance your online privacy if you’re using a proxy to browse the internet. There’re many prying eyes online targeting businesses with weakened security systems. A proxy helps to encrypt your web requests and makes it difficult for anyone to read your moves.
Besides, it can help to prevent malware from your network. A proxy server is best for organizations with people working remotely as they can access the website through it from wherever they are. It also makes it easy to track user activity from the company headquarters, including resource delivery.
To enhance speed and save bandwidth
Website loading speeds are a matter of concern for every business. Sometimes, websites load slowly, making it difficult to complete urgent tasks in time. As a business, you need to invest in a proxy server and have all your employees access the company network through it.
Proxy servers also cache web pages that you access frequently. That makes it easy for them to deliver similar requests in the future without sending requests to the web servers. That’s how many businesses out there are saving on bandwidth.
To enhance privacy
Besides online security, privacy is another concern for businesses with a web presence. Businesses hold vital data that should never end in the wrong hands. To protect this data at all costs, businesses are investing in reliable proxies.
A proxy hides your identity and location by using a different IP address to send requests. That makes your requests anonymous and tracking you impossible.
To access geo-restricted sites
If you’re involved in research, you may have been blocked from accessing a website before. Many websites block users from certain countries but give others uncensored access. A proxy is the best tool to use when you want to bypass these restrictions.
You can configure the proxy to a server in an unrestricted country before attempting to access a website. Your request will not be blocked as it will appear to be coming from the allowed server.
There’s no doubt that proxies are the future for ensuring online privacy and security. You can invest in a paid proxy or go with a free one depending on your budget. However, any business looking to enhance its security and privacy shouldn’t shy off from paying for a proxy as free ones aren’t as effective.
Besides, there are various types of proxies to consider when looking to protect your online activity. Not all proxies work the same way making it vital to choose proxies carefully. Consider your business needs and the functionality of a particular type before deciding.
In the end, you can browse anonymously, save on bandwidth, access geo-restricted sites, improve security, and control internet usage for your kids or employees. All these are reasons why organizations, schools, homeowners, etc., invest in proxies.
Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.