What is a Proxy Server?

Today in this article, we are going to learn about what is Proxy Server and how proxy server works in a computer network. There are lots of videos and articles available in the internet about the proxy server but this article is gonna be the best article you have ever seen on internet regarding proxy server because at the end of the article, your all the doubts and confusion about the proxy server is going to be cleared.

Have you found who did this hack? It’s very difficult to find out who did it because they were using a proxy server. Hmm… So you might be thinking that a Proxy Server is something a hacker uses to hide his IP and identity t prevent the authorities from tracing a hack back to you. You are right. But let’s figure out a little bit more.

So What is Proxy Server?

The proxy server is a computer system or an application, used to hide the IP address of the client so that it can surf anonymous, this is mostly for security reasons. The proxy server acts as an intermediary between the user’s computer and the internet to prevent the attack and unexpected loss. As the name implies, a proxy server is an intermediary between your PC/device and the internet, this server makes requests to websites, servers and services on the internet for you.

Consider the below network, Your PC, a firewall and a server of youtube.com

Then you browse youtube.com in your browser, the firewall will know that you are requesting to visit youtube.com, the firewall will allow the request and request will be sent to youtube.com. Two things will happen now, 1 the firewall knows that you are requesting to visit youtube and it can block youtube, and 2 youtube will get your IP. Pint 1 is bad because, Since the firewall knows what you are trying to access, the adware of the firewall can see what other websites you are visiting, this needs privacy. And point 2 is bad because since it gets your IP, Youtube will know who is visiting. S, if you are trying to hack youtube, YouTube will easily know who was trying to access and trace back to you and arrest you.

So, what is the solution to this problem? The solution is to use the proxy server. Let’s take the same example but we have a proxy server here.

In this situation when you send the request to access Youtube.com after installing the proxy server in your computer network, the firewall will never know about what you are requesting to access, it will see you are visiting some website with IP 47.52.222.165. it will never know your real IP address and it will never block you visiting youtube and After the server sends the request to youtube and because the request came through a proxy server it will get the proxy server IP 47.52.222.165 and it can never trace you back.

Let’s explore more with this example. There are five computers in the network connected to the internet and all these computers need windows update which is around 2 GB. So, in the normal scenario, if all these devices download the update it consumes around 10 GB of data, which is a huge amount. If there are a thousand computers you can imagine how much network bandwidth will require for the same and because of this lots of network consumption will also occur. So for overcoming this problem, we use a proxy server. If there is a proxy server installed on a computer network they did a transfer occurs only through it. Every time a user tries to access the internet with IP address 101.20.98.44, their request will be sent to the proxy server and the proxy server forward their request to the internet with a new IP address with 40.214.50.71.

Let’s take the same example. But in this scenario we have a proxy server installed in our computer network, There are five computers connected to the internet, all these computer needs windows update which is about 2 GB. Now if the PC1 tries to download the window update, the request will not be sent to the internet, instead of this, the request will be sent to the proxy server and the proxy server will check for the update in its cache and if the update is not available, it will forward the request to the internet and the time the proxy server receives the update, proxy server will stores the update in its cache and then send it to the PC1.

Now, let’s talk about the types of proxy server and how this proxy server works.

Types of Proxy Servers

1. Normal (Regular) Proxy Server

A normal proxy server is the caching proxy server which listens on a separate port example .3128 and the clients are configured to send requests for connectivity to that port. In this server when a client request for content/web page/services, it checks in its cache whether its available or not and if the content/web page isn’t available in its cache it forward the request to the internet and after it receives the request, it fetches the content/web page and stores a copy for future use. So, that if other clients request for the same web page, the proxy server replies instantly with the web page or content from its cache. You have to make some browser settings to pass through your request to the proxy server.

2. Transparent Proxy Server

The transparent Proxy is the server where there is no need to do any browser settings in the client’s side. Your request will be automatically forward to the proxy server. So, you just made the proxy server, so these proxy servers are also used for the caching, filtering, getaway server and intercept the WWW requests (port 80, 443, etc.). So, when the user or clients request for the content, It fetches the content for the first time and subsequently replies from its local cache. This type of server is also used in ISP’s to reduce the load on the bandwidth usage. This proxy server gives more flexibility to access the contents and web pages because the client doesn’t know that there is a proxy server which mediates their requests.  This type of server is also used in ISP’s to reduce the load on the bandwidth usage.

3. Reverse Proxy

The Reverse Proxy is different than the above two proxy servers. It protects the web server rather than the clients. Whatever the clients request to the web server, the web server automatically forwards the request to the proxy server. This server keeps a copy from all web servers in its cache and replies to the client’s request from its cache to reduce the load in the bandwidth and the web server.

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