Setting Up Web Proxy
What is a Proxy Server and How Does it Work? – Varonis
The actual nuts and bolts of how the internet works are not something people often stop to consider. The problem with that is the inherent danger of data security breaches and identity theft that come along with the cute dog pictures, 24-hour news updates, and great deals online.
But what actually happens when you browse the web? You might be using a proxy server at your office, on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or you could be one of the more tech-savvy who always use a proxy server of some kind or another.
Discover the Top 5 Remote Security Threats to your workforce with our Free Whitepaper
“It’s a new world of remote work and this was a jumpstart on securing it. ”
What’s a Proxy Server?
A proxy server is any machine that translates traffic between networks or protocols. It’s an intermediary server separating end-user clients from the destinations that they browse. Proxy servers provide varying levels of functionality, security, and privacy depending on your use case, needs, or company policy.
If you’re using a proxy server, traffic flows through the proxy server on its way to the address you requested. The request then comes back through that same proxy server (there are exceptions to this rule), and then the proxy server forwards the data received from the website to you.
If that’s all it does, why bother with a proxy server? Why not just go straight from to the website and back?
Modern proxy servers do much more than forward web requests, all in the name of data security and network performance. Proxy servers act as a firewall and web filter, provide shared network connections, and cache data to speed up common requests. A good proxy server keeps users and the internal network protected from the bad stuff that lives out in the wild internet. Lastly, proxy servers can provide a high level of privacy.
How Does a Proxy Server Operate?
Every computer on the internet needs to have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) Address. Think of this IP address as your computer’s street address. Just as the post office knows to deliver your mail to your street address, the internet knows how to send the correct data to the correct computer by the IP address.
A proxy server is basically a computer on the internet with its own IP address that your computer knows. When you send a web request, your request goes to the proxy server first. The proxy server then makes your web request on your behalf, collects the response from the web server, and forwards you the web page data so you can see the page in your browser.
When the proxy server forwards your web requests, it can make changes to the data you send and still get you the information that you expect to see. A proxy server can change your IP address, so the web server doesn’t know exactly where you are in the world. It can encrypt your data, so your data is unreadable in transit. And lastly, a proxy server can block access to certain web pages, based on IP address.
What are Forward Proxies
A forward proxy server sits between the client and an external network. It evaluates the outbound requests and takes action on them before relaying that request to the external resource.
Most proxy services that you’re likely to encounter are forward proxies. Virtual Private Networks and Web content filters are both examples of forward proxies.
What are Reverse Proxies
A reverse proxy server sits between a network and multiple other internal resources. A large website might have dozens of servers that collectively serve requests from a single domain. To accomplish that, client requests would resolve to a machine that would act as a load balancer. The load balancer would then proxy that traffic back to the individual servers.
Some popular open source reverse proxies are:
Why Should You Use a Proxy Server?
There are several reasons organizations and individuals use a proxy server.
To control internet usage of employees and children: Organizations and parents set up proxy servers to control and monitor how their employees or kids use the internet. Most organizations don’t want you looking at specific websites on company time, and they can configure the proxy server to deny access to specific sites, instead redirecting you with a nice note asking you to refrain from looking at said sites on the company network. They can also monitor and log all web requests, so even though they might not block the site, they know how much time you spend cyberloafing.
Bandwidth savings and improved speeds: Organizations can also get better overall network performance with a good proxy server. Proxy servers can cache (save a copy of the website locally) popular websites – so when you ask for, the proxy server will check to see if it has the most recent copy of the site, and then send you the saved copy. What this means is that when hundreds of people hit at the same time from the same proxy server, the proxy server only sends one request to This saves bandwidth for the company and improves the network performance.
Privacy benefits: Individuals and organizations alike use proxy servers to browse the internet more privately. Some proxy servers will change the IP address and other identifying information the web request contains. This means the destination server doesn’t know who actually made the original request, which helps keeps your personal information and browsing habits more private.
Improved security: Proxy servers provide security benefits on top of the privacy benefits. You can configure your proxy server to encrypt your web requests to keep prying eyes from reading your transactions. You can also prevent known malware sites from any access through the proxy server. Additionally, organizations can couple their proxy server with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), so remote users always access the internet through the company proxy. A VPN is a direct connection to the company network that companies provide to external or remote users. By using a VPN, the company can control and verify that their users have access to the resources (email, internal data) they need, while also providing a secure connection for the user to protect the company data.
Get access to blocked resources: Proxy servers allow users to circumvent content restrictions imposed by companies or governments. Is the local sportsball team’s game blacked out online? Log into a proxy server on the other side of the country and watch from there. The proxy server makes it look like you are in California, but you actually live in North Carolina. Several governments around the world closely monitor and restrict access to the internet, and proxy servers offer their citizens access to an uncensored internet.
Now that you have an idea about why organizations and individuals use a proxy server, take a look at the risks below.
Proxy Server Risks
You do need to be cautious when you choose a proxy server: a few common risks can negate any of the potential benefits:
Free proxy server risks
You know the old saying “you get what you pay for? ” Well, using one of the many free proxy server services can be quite risky, even the services using ad-based revenue models.
Free usually means they aren’t investing heavily in backend hardware or encryption. You’ll likely see performance issues and potential data security issues. If you ever find a completely “free” proxy server, tread very carefully. Some of those are just looking to steal your credit card numbers.
Browsing history log
The proxy server has your original IP address and web request information possibly unencrypted, saved locally. Make sure to check if your proxy server logs and saves that data – and what kind of retention or law enforcement cooperation policies they follow.
If you expect to use a proxy server for privacy, but the vendor is just logging and selling your data you might not be receiving the expected value for the service.
If you use a proxy server without encryption, you might as well not use a proxy server. No encryption means you are sending your requests as plain text. Anyone who is listening will be able to pull usernames and passwords and account information really easily. Make sure whatever proxy server you use provides full encryption capability.
Types of Proxy Servers
Not all proxy servers work the same way. It’s important to understand exactly what functionality you’re getting from the proxy server, and ensure that the proxy server meets your use case.
A transparent proxy tells websites that it is a proxy server and it will still pass along your IP address, identifying you to the web server. Businesses, public libraries, and schools often use transparent proxies for content filtering: they’re easy to set up both client and server side.
An anonymous proxy will identify itself as a proxy, but it won’t pass your IP address to the website – this helps prevent identity theft and keep your browsing habits private. They can also prevent a website from serving you targeted marketing content based on your location. For example, if knows you live in Raleigh, NC, they will show you news stories they feel are relevant to Raleigh, NC. Browsing anonymously will prevent a website from using some ad targeting techniques, but is not a 100% guarantee.
A distorting proxy server passes along a false IP address for you while identifying itself as a proxy. This serves similar purposes as the anonymous proxy, but by passing a false IP address, you can appear to be from a different location to get around content restrictions.
High Anonymity proxy
High Anonymity proxy servers periodically change the IP address they present to the web server, making it very difficult to keep track of what traffic belongs to who. High anonymity proxies, like the TOR Network, is the most private and secure way to read the internet.
Proxy servers are a hot item in the news these days with the controversies around Net Neutrality and censorship. By removing net neutrality protections in the United States, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are now able to control your bandwidth and internet traffic. ISPs can potentially tell you what sites you can and cannot see. While there’s a great amount of uncertainty around what is going to happen with Net Neutrality, it’s possible that proxy servers will provide some ability to work around an ISPs restrictions.
Varonis analyzes data from proxy servers to protect you from data breaches and cyber attacks. The addition of proxy data gives more context to better analyze user behavior trends for abnormalities. You can get an alert on that suspicious activity with actionable intelligence to investigate and deal with the incident.
For example, a user accessing GDPR data might not be significant on its own. But if they access GDPR data and then try to upload it to an external website, it could be an exfiltration attempt and potential data breach. Without the context provided by file system monitoring, proxy monitoring, and Varonis threat models, you might see these events in a vacuum and not realize you need to prevent a data breach.
Get a 1:1 demo to see these threat models in action – and see what your proxy data could be telling you.
How Do I Find My Proxy Server Address? | Techwalla
Check your setting for your proxy server address.
Image Credit: eclipse_images/E+/GettyImages
When you use a proxy server, you benefit from increased privacy because it hides your real internet protocol address and offers options to filter content and access websites that might otherwise have location restrictions. You might need to find your proxy server address if you have a networking problem to troubleshoot or if you need to write down the address to configure a new device. You can access your computer’s network settings to get this information, check your browser settings, or use proxy server detection tools online.
Check Your Operating System Settings
To check the proxy server you configured for applications to use systemwide, go to your computer’s general network settings. The processes include:
Mac: Either select Open Network Preferences from the Wi-Fi menu on the top of your screen or open System Preferences and select Network to get to the same window. After you select your network from the left pane, select Advanced. Choose the Proxies tab to see options for various proxies you might use. Selecting one of the options shows the proxy server address if you set it.
Windows: Run a search and open Internet Options and select the Connections tab in that window. Clicking LAN Settings shows your proxy server address and more details about your current network configuration.
Check Your Computer’s Browser Configuration
You can also find your proxy address by checking your computer’s browser configuration. However, note that the proxy server address configured for your browser may differ from your systemwide proxy used for other applications. This happens if you manually configure your browser to use a different proxy address.
Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon. Select Settings and choose Advanced. Then, select the Open Proxy Settings button to display a screen that shows your proxy setup with address and port.
Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon. Choose Settings and select the Advanced option. Clicking System displays an option on the right to display your operating system’s proxy settings.
Mozilla Firefox: Open the Firefox menu and go to the Preferences option. Scroll down to the bottom of the window and select Settings to bring up detailed proxy information.
Apple Safari: Access the Safari menu. Select Preferences and go to the Advanced tab. Go to the Proxies section and select Change Settings to see the Mac’s proxy settings.
Use Proxy Server Address Detectors
If you’d rather not go through the steps to find your proxy server address through your operating system’s settings or browser configuration, you can find websites that attempt to detect whether you’re using a proxy server. These sites usually show a disclaimer that some proxies may go undetected. These online tools include:
This website automatically shows your computer’s public IP address, which should be your proxy server address if it’s properly configured. You can also click the Proxy Check button to find out whether browsers detect that address as an actual proxy.
Going to this site shows your IP address, which should be your proxy, along with your location and internet service provider name. Access the Tools menu to select the Proxy Check option that works like the one at
Visiting this website automatically runs a basic proxy check that grabs information from your browser’s request to detect if you have a proxy configured. If so, you see an alert at the top showing that the site detected a proxy along with the proxy server address and details such as the proxy’s location and your browser type. You can also choose the Advanced Check button at the top of the page to run a detailed series of tests that can better detect a proxy server.
5 Reasons Your Company Should Use Proxy Servers – CMSWire
The average person probably has only a vague understanding of the purpose of a proxy server.
If you’re like most people, you probably associate proxy servers with unblocking Netflix content from other countries or staying a bit more secure on an open WiFi network. The reality, however, is that proxy servers do much more — and are especially vital for businesses.
Proxy servers are a fairly simple intermediary mechanism between a computer with a private IP address and another server on the internet.
A proxy server has its own IP address, which is made public instead. While a rather seemingly insignificant change, the proxy IP address can be used for a number of vital business functions related to everything from security to customer experience.
There are five vital corporate reasons to use proxies that every business leader needs to know about, even if you aren’t involved in the tech side of things.
1. Improve Corporate and Institutional Security
Every company today is worried about hackers. A data breach is costly, both in terms of monetary loss and public image.
A proxy server reduces the chance of a breach. Proxy servers add an additional layer of security between your servers and outside traffic. Because proxy servers can face the internet and relay requests from computers outside the network, they act as a buffer.
While hackers may have access to your proxy, they’ll have trouble reaching the server actually running the web software where your data is stored. You may not be able to fully keep top hackers out with just a proxy IP alone, but you’ll be much less vulnerable.
2. Carry Out Sensitive Tasks Anonymously
Proxies are probably best known for their ability to anonymize web traffic. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize just how important this function is for businesses.
Reporters, whistleblowers and security officers count on the added identity protection offered by proxy servers to protect themselves, sources, their companies, clients and partners.
You can also better protect any current research and development and other company activities.
Any potential spy trying to track web traffic to figure out what your business is developing won’t be able to track your employees as easily if your company always uses a proxy. Any sensitive tasks completed over the internet are more secure when first anonymized through a proxy.
3. Balance Traffic So Your Server Doesn’t Crash
Nothing annoys a customer faster than a company’s website going down when they need it. Proxy servers, cloud data storage and peering improve customer experience by ensuring this doesn’t happen.
Essentially, your website’s data and content is stored across many servers around the world in the cloud, and peering helps your network handle greater traffic. Of course, you can’t ask a customer to try a bunch of ISPs to reach that content.
A proxy server instead is used to create a single web address to serve as the access point. The proxy will also balance the requests to each server so none overloads. All of this works in the background to ensure a seamless customer experience on your website.
4. Control Employee Internet Usage
No company wants employees accessing unsecure or inappropriate websites on company networks. That’s why many internal networks are run on a proxy server.
When the network is accessed through a proxy, network administrators control which devices have access to the network and which sites those devices can visit. You can block undesirable content, as well as any sites you don’t want employees using on company time.
Network administrators can even record what content is being accessed and when for internal purposes. Many security officers use this to monitor for potential illegal activity or security breaches.
5. Faster Speeds and Bandwidth Savings
Due to all the extra work accomplished in the background by proxy servers, most people assume they slow down internet speeds. This isn’t always true.
Proxy servers can easily be used to increase speeds and save bandwidth on a network by compressing traffic, caching files and web pages accessed by multiple users, and stripping ads from websites. This frees up precious bandwidth on busy networks, so your team can access the internet quickly and easily.
Title image by Matthew Wiebe
RJ Prego has focused his career on global data center management, global and regional colocation and network managed services and has a deep understanding of the latest developments in data center, telco, IT services, cloud and CDN.
Frequently Asked Questions about setting up web proxy
What is web Proxy?
A proxy server is basically a computer on the internet with its own IP address that your computer knows. … The proxy server then makes your web request on your behalf, collects the response from the web server, and forwards you the web page data so you can see the page in your browser.May 7, 2021
What is my web proxy server?
Check Your Operating System Settings Selecting one of the options shows the proxy server address if you set it. Windows: Run a search and open Internet Options and select the Connections tab in that window. Clicking LAN Settings shows your proxy server address and more details about your current network configuration.May 17, 2020
When would you use a web proxy?
Proxy servers can easily be used to increase speeds and save bandwidth on a network by compressing traffic, caching files and web pages accessed by multiple users, and stripping ads from websites. This frees up precious bandwidth on busy networks, so your team can access the internet quickly and easily.Jun 20, 2016