Normally when you want to access some website over the Internet, you do so via your web browser. But in certain networks, to provide security and privacy, there exist some servers which act as intermediaries between a device in a network and the Internet. Here, when a device wants to open a website, it will place the request to the such intermediary servers (called Proxy Servers), which in turn will fetch the website for the user and pass it back to the user.
Their uses are as follows:
- It may act as firewall and network filters, thus not allowing harmful connections to and from the Internet.
- It enhances privacy of the network as proxy servers can change the IP address and other identifying information in the request that has been made.
- It can be used to place certain restrictions on the websites that can be accessed in a network.
- It can save bandwidth by caching (i.e. saving locally) some web-pages and fetch new webpages from the original website only when some changes are made to it.
Now, there might be situations when the access to a particular website is not allowed or banned by your network administrator. In such situations, proxy websites allow you to indirectly browse websites which may be otherwise blocked. Here, you open the proxy website, fill in the address of the website you want to browse, and request it to fetch the banned website for you. The proxy will fetch the website on your behalf and display it as such on your screen for you to access it. Thus, you can bypass the censorship of your network.
But some proxy websites may steal your username and passwords and may also keep your browsing history when you enter your credentials on their website.
For Wikipedia entry on Proxy Server, click here.
For more posts on Privacy, click here.
For more posts in The Cyber Cops project, click here.