History museums often portray the evolution of different species where a creature transforms into another to keep up with the changing environment.
The story isn’t any different for software. Although they change at a significantly faster pace, they do, nonetheless.
We are pointing towards proxy servers – software that has been undergoing quick changes to protect its own identity.
Although they have been around since the emergence of the web, their role has undergone incredible changes in the past few years.
What is a proxy, and how has it altered over time? Stick with us to get your questions answered.
What Is a Proxy?
A proxy server, typically known as a proxy, is a neutral PC that acts as a filter between your computer network and the external network – the internet.
In simple words, proxies act as an intermediary between the internet and your PC. So, when you connect to this server, you receive additional data security that keeps you from malicious activity online.
Depending on their type and configuration, they can have different use cases. Typically, however, they are used to facilitate anonymous internet browsing, control web requests, and bypass geo-restricted sites.
How Do They Work?
Proxies facilitate web requests and responses between a web server and the internet user. Generally, you access a site by forwarding a direct request to the webserver from your IP address.
The web server then directly sends you a response containing the site data.
On the contrary, a proxy acts as a middleman between you and the webserver. It utilizes a different IP address on your behalf and hides your original address from the web server.
Let’s take a closer look at how a standard server configuration operates.
- You enter a website URL into the search bar
- A proxy receives your request
- It sends the request to the web server
- The web server forwards website data to the proxy
- The proxy server then sends the response to you
Advantages of a Proxy Server
Proxies have several pros that may vary depending on their configuration and type. Therefore, you must discover its particular capabilities before installing and using it. We’ve curated a list of some benefits proxies offer.
- Better security. Proxies are like firewalls between your PC and the internet. If not for them, hackers can easily access your IP address which risks your sensitive information.
- Web filtration. As a parent, you may want to block specific content for your children. Aside from that, you may wish to restrict your employees from accessing particular sites as a business owner. Fortunately, proxies help you achieve that.
- Private browsing. You can watch, browse, play, and shop anonymously using a proxy server. It gives you the freedom of private browsing by veiling your IP address.
- Altering geo-location. You can perform online marketing activities by using rotating proxies. For instance, market research, web scraping, and SEO depend on geo-location. A proxy, however, alters your geo-location, providing greater convenience.
How Has Proxy Usage Changed Over the Years?
After explaining what is a proxy, it is crucial to discuss how it has evolved over the years. Times have shifted and so have the usage of proxies. Of course, internet traffic now has significantly increased than in the past.
For instance, browsing was more about reading information from web pages back in the day. Today, we play games, stream seasons, and read Facebook posts while simultaneously keeping an eye on Instagram stories.
The enhanced usage is also making our online activities prone to attacks. Perhaps this explains why internet users use varying applications to take security measures.
While a random app may anonymize their activity, is it safe?
It is important to note that proxies work to protect web traffic, and traffic isn’t on the web alone; the applications downloaded without a second thought are equipped too. But are they safe enough? Looks like internet users need to reconsider their habits.
While proxies offer immense benefits, they have limitations like every other software. Nonetheless, the server hasn’t disappointed and has taken steps to prevent its extinction. Let’s take a closer look below.
Proxy Usage Then
- A proxy server allowed several devices to share a single internet connection.
- They could boost network efficiency and conserve bandwidth
- They managed – allowed or disallowed – particular connections with the external world – consider site filtering, for instance.
Proxy Usage Now
- The use of proxies is turning from security and connection sharing to authentication and data/content caching.
- They have the ability to extend their outreach past a physical LAN. Portable authentication demand is increasing drastically. For instance, universities often allow students to access third-party subscription services, which they can access even when not on campus – through the university proxy server.
- Organizations genuinely value content caching because it preserves bandwidth and gives a faster connection to the locals.
- A proxy server has morphed into suites to control the boundary between internal and external networks.
As with any software, proxy usage has changed over the past few years. It’s not surprising that internet usage has altered dramatically, and proxies are not used for site filtering alone today.
Although the primary role remains the same, the usage has undergone incredibly helpful changes to survive in the growing digital age.
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