A Proxy Server is a server that facilitates/bridges an internet connection for you. It acts as an intermediary or stepping stone between a user and the server they wish to reach.
Proxy servers are commonly used to avoid restrictions preventing users connecting to certain websites. This could be office networks blocking access to Facebook during office hours or schools blocking access to Facebook / Youtube; or more serious issues where countries and regimes prevent citizens accessing foreign news sites. In situations like these proxies are very useful.
There different types of proxies, they all provide the same basic functionality but some small differences.
An HTTP proxy is commonly used to avoid restrictions preventing users connecting to certain websites. HTTP proxies are categorized in different levels:
- Transparent Proxy – This advertises itself as a proxy server and forwards your real IP address to destination website.
- Anonymous Proxy – This advertises itself as a proxy server but hides your real IP address from the destination website.
- Distorting Proxy – This advertises itself as a proxy server but sends a false IP address to the destination website instead of your real address.
- High Anonymity Proxy – These disguise the fact that they are a proxy server, therefore does not disclose any information about you to the destination website.
The HTTP proxies described above, will help you visit websites that have been blocked or block users depending on their geographical location. Thats fine if all you want to do is surf the web; but if you need to send email (other than by using webmail services), use Skype, visit Netflix, Hulu or PrimeVideo or push all data from a PC or mobile device through a proxy then a SOCKS proxy is the next step. These can handle more than just HTTP traffic, allowing a user to use it for skype, FTP, SFTP etc.