For anyone, who is even very less familiar with networking terms, must have heard of a proxy server. So, what exactly a proxy server is? A proxy server is nothing but an intermediary between a client and the main server. Whenever you access a webpage on the internet, your computer acts as a client to the server of the web page you are trying to open.
Generally, a client machine directly interacts with a server. But sometimes, the interaction is done via a proxy server in between. When we consider a scenario where you are accessing the internet from your home computer, through a web browser, your browser acts as the client. You want to enter a particular website. That website’s resources are held by a server with whose permission, you gain access to the website. This connection may be direct or indirect.
In case of indirect connection, your web browser requests the proxy server in between for the website resources and then the proxy server forwards those requests to the actual server. Although, it will be interesting to note that if a proxy server is capable of fulfilling your requests itself, then it might not forward the request, but complete them on it’s own.For example, if the proxy server has the resources of a particular website, for which you requested, in it’s own possession then it will supply you with it without ever contacting the actual server. In case it is unable to do so ,it will make the actual server know of your requests. It may also happen that a proxy server provides with a cached copy of the web page or even alter the nature of your request for various purposes.
Types of Proxy servers:-
- Caching or transparent proxy – This kind of proxy is transparent in the sense because they display your computer IP address in the HTTP header. Also, they provide you with the cache copy of the requested web page. Such proxies expose your internet identity and make the web page known that exactly how many times you visit the web page.
- Distorted proxy – This proxy identifies itself as a proxy server. It is known as distorted because it never displays your correct IP address, but a distorted or incorrect IP address in the HTTP header.
- Anonymous proxy – This is proxy too, identifies itself as a proxy server, but keeps the user identity anonymous by not providing the IP address at all.
- Highly anonymous proxy – This proxy does not identify itself as a proxy server at all and also does not provide the user’s IP address at all, thus protecting a user’s identity totally.
- Reverse proxy – It provides protection to private networks from unwanted access from the internet. These proxies work by moving requests across a firewall that keeps private networks safe and isolated from the internet. When these proxies are Cache enabled, they help reduce network traffic by providing cached copies of web pages to users and not forwarding requests to the original servers.