Proxy Server: What It Is and How It Works?
Proxy means “usage on behalf of someone else”. But how does it explain the meaning of proxy server? Does it mean that this kind of servers is a tool for hackers? How does a proxy server work and why does anyone need this? Let’s figure it out.
Meaning of proxy server
What is a proxy server? That’s not malware so don’t be suspicious with “is this website safe” when some websites use proxies; that’s a special computer that hides your unique IP address granting anonymity. Here is a simple example.
Some streaming services like Netflix don’t work in every country. If you open it, you will get an access error: a message that a service is not available in your country. But how does it know where you are at this moment? With every request to a web service, you share some personal information, including your location. If it doesn’t meet any requirements, a page is not available.
Let’s imagine there is a special provider located in a place where Netflix works. Such an agent is known as proxy. Thousands of those function all over the globe, letting pass your address for located in a different place and help in complicated circumstances.
What is its purpose for SEO?
SEO specialists use proxy servers to circumvent restrictions for programs sending bulk requests to search and statistical systems.
For examples, when creating a semantic core, researchers collect variants of words and word combinations that characterize an offer on the website. They check requests users enter in Google when looking for particular things and sites that provide them. A draft of such list can feature thousands of requests. To receive the relevant final list, all results should be parsed, including data from competitors, voice search, statistics services like Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc. Some of them restrict the amount of data one IP can access. This is the moment to consider using proxy – cheap and effective solution. The same happens when parsing site positions for mass verification of SEO-indicators.
Another case of SEO proxies use is submitting articles. In this situation, anonymity and number of proxies are extremely significant, since captcha services block IP on a too big number of requests as well.
When are proxy services used?
- Providing web access from computers on the local network.
- Outsmarting services and getting access to web resources that don’t function in a particular region.
- Data caching: if users often access the same external resources, keep a copy on the server and issue it on request, reducing the load and speeding up the access to the requested information.
- Data compression: a server downloads information from the Internet and transmits it to a user in a compressed form, saving external traffic.
- Protecting local networks by external access limitation: local computers will access external public resources only through this server, and external computers won’t be able at all.
- Restricting outside access from a private network: deny access to certain websites, limit the use of the Internet to some local users, set quotas for traffic or bandwidth, filter ads and viruses.
- Anonymous access: you can hide information about request sources or users, displaying only server data.
- Protects clients’ computers from some DDOS attacks.
The most common types of proxy servers
There are two types of such servers – open and closed. Open web proxy server is the one that allows anyone, including you, opening all sorts of websites. Besides granting anonymity, if it is located in a home network, it helps to receive more expensive traffic from the foreign network if the traffic price for various networks differs. Open proxies can be anonymous and transparent. First of all, anonymous hide your real IP address and transparent ones don’t hide any data, showing your IP and other details. That’s why nobody can check IP address of yours.
Reasons you should use a proxy server
There are a lot of cases you may use it properly. But we decided to distinguish the most important of them. According to these 3 reasons you can set up your website and get benefits.
You can hide an IP address, so your current location becomes invisible to other network members. Just be careful: proxy search engine owner completely controls your session – can record all your messages and manipulate web content.
As you know, there are a lot of different caching types exist. It can be google cache, website cache or proxy caching. Cashed data speeds up the processing of repeated requests. If a client regularly requests the same Word document, get it directly from the server instead of connecting to the target one. And if you were curious what is HTTP proxy, the HTTP protocol is responsible for this, saving server bandwidth and therefore the company’s money.
Proxy servers can use filters to evaluate incoming requests, letting you skip only certain types of requests. This feature is most frequently applied for corporate networks.
Why can free proxy servers be dangerous?
This solution greatly facilitates the lives of those, who use the Internet actively, bypassing certain prohibitions and removing restrictions. But potential pitfalls hide behind the seeming security, and they shouldn’t be ignored.
But let’s get back to the proxy definition. It is a gateway in a network with a specific IP address located in some region. You register the IP address of a specific proxy in your browser and access a web resource. Data travels to the address on this server, reaches a destination website, then goes back the same way.
If there is no padlock icon that stands for SSL cer protocol in a web address, you cannot be certain that this connection is secure. That’s when you are to answer a question: what’s on its owner’s mind? Variants can be different:
- Collecting data about your PC – browser version, software details, location, etc.
- Packet spoofing that forces transferring additional data.
- Emulation of actions on the website that may compromise a user.
- Gathering passwords, payment details, and other private
- Installing malware, running scripts, etc.
- Further use of infected PCs in DDOS attacks.
A harmless desire to protect yourself from unauthorized control or bypass some bans can have unpredictable consequences. The most interesting thing is that a user doesn’t notice all the actions that occur on their computer. Proxy server opens new opportunities, but users should be careful in order to avoid data leakage and malware attacks.