A proxy is a networking application which allows user to go anonymous on the web by residing on to a proxy IP which responds to the server requests in a transparent method. The enhancement of proxy usage has allowed several organizations to strengthen their security and at the same time drastically improve performance. The major applications of using proxy server are to improve performance, allow the extension of anonymity and enhance the security algorithms for any environment.
When it comes to using a specific proxy server for an anonymous use, we can distinguish it into three factors:-
1) Content Filtering
Proxy can be used to filter contents which do not have an authorized access, if a company for instance needs to block some web page for the client computers, it can do so by using a proxy firewall called MIMO filtering and keyword filtering, which allows the main administrator to block out unauthorized access, hence enhancing the security principles of the organization. It is mostly used in schools, colleges to restrict pornography, gambling and social networking contents on the web. Additionally, a restriction can be placed on the server side as a whole to block out unnecessary keywords usages. Keyword filtering allows blocking specific keywords based on the administrator preferences; it also allows the restriction of those requests which can be layered out in multiple levels of access.
The most wide usage of any proxy server is for its application of being anonymous, a user can reside to a proxy IP instead of their personal IP address – which usually contain their personal address, with the usage of proxy IP, the original request of server for address or location cannot be traced, and therefore the user is anonymous on the web. Although this feature is widely appreciated, it has lead to some major drawbacks on the security aspects as well. Many people who have a wide knowledge of using proxy server can automate their usage and hack databases without revealing their identity, and trace back of the main client sending the packet requests is impossible to find unless the real MAC address can be traced out. The general idea of any proxy application is being anonymous, and accessing that content which is usually done by blocking server request of specific IP address to the web.
Increased threat to personal databases and files has lead to a major and widespread appreciation of proxy servers and their usages. A web proxy can be established on both intranets as well as extranet. The subnet mask can be worked wholly for all the usable IPs to the sub network and the same proxy IP can be applied to them, leading to the application of content, MIMO or keyword filtering.
Additionally, CGI proxies has enabled the user has eased the access of proxy networking without extensive knowledge. Proxy network is implemented on the PHP side of the website, allowing general viewers to visit the website first and browser through a frame which leads to anonymity.
Security for organization has been strengthened and various applications of proxies has been applied to major units of deployment within and outside a certain firm. Intranet application of the firm uses content monitoring and filtering, while the external extranet can use anonymity web proxy to serve it’s usages in a more confidential manner.
4) Increase Performance
While proxy serves anonymity to the general users, it can also be used to increase performance of web surfing. Cache proxy can be used to store cookies, plug-in and other data of a specific web page last visited, hence leading to a quick server request, by automatically sending those stored data to the server request. It dramatically improves the performance, as the smallest of CSS style sheets does not has to be reloaded again and again multiple times each time a user visits a webpage. This application of cache proxy surely has been a remarkable essence of improving user’s resource management principles. Cache memory is a temporary memory that resides either in the user’s browser or the client storage; it automatically stores the temporary data of the server request to the web page, and retrieves them whenever the same web page is accessed by the user.
Generally, proxy can be classified into five types:-
1) Transparent Proxy
Not served for being anonymous on the web, but it is generally used to increase performance by caching web pages at the server. It leads to quick recall of the saved pages by sending request to the cached which were saved on previous occasion of surfing. It makes the original IP address available to different hyper text protocols for browsing the web.
2) Anonymous Proxy
These proxies are served for being anonymous on the web, the server identified itself as a proxy server instead of sending the origin ail IP address to the http headers, it sends the proxy address to the server. Although, the usage of proxy can be easily identified, it does provide the application of anonymous browsing.
3) Open Proxy
It hides the user’s IP address, and the server request is forwarded from and to anywhere on the Internet. Not residing from the user to server side, the request is often forwarded randomly on the Internet packets; it does provide a reasonable security by hiding the IP address of the user sending the request to the server.
4) Distorting Proxy
Sending the incorrect or distorted IP address, it hides the original identity of the user and serves to be anonymous. It is often used to access those areas, where country restriction is applied. For e.g. – if a web page can only be accessed from USA, a distorting proxy of USA IP address can be applied to surf that specific web page.
5) High anonymity proxy
Unlike anonymous proxy, this proxy does not serve itself as a proxy server and does not reveal the original IP address as well. It is often used for commercial purposes, and these kind of proxies are often expensive to acquire.