What are Internet Proxy Types?
Proxy servers receive requests intended for other servers and then act to fulfill, forward, redirect, or reject the requests. Exactly which service is carried out for a particular request is based on a number of factors which include: the proxy server’s capabilities, what is requested, information contained in the request, where the request came from, the intended destination, and in some cases, who sent the request1.
The advantages of using a proxy server are that it has the ability to enhance network security and lessen network traffic. A proxy server enhances network security by providing controls for receiving and forwarding (or rejecting) requests between isolated networks. A proxy server lessens network traffic by rejecting unwanted requests, forwarding requests to balance and optimize server workload, and fulfilling requests by serving data from cache rather than unnecessarily contacting the true destination server.
Types of proxy servers include:
- Reverse. A reverse proxy is a common form of a proxy server and is generally used to pass requests from the internet through a firewall to isolated, private networks. A reverse proxy server will first check to make sure a request is valid. If a request is not valid, or not allowed (blocked by the proxy), it will not continue to process the request resulting in the client receiving an error or a redirect. If a request is valid, a reverse proxy may check if the requested information is cached. If it is, the reverse proxy serves the cached information. If it is not, the reverse proxy will request the information from the content server and serve it to the requesting client. It also caches the information for future requests.
- Forward proxy. Forward proxies are used to transmit data to groups of users within an internal network. When the request is sent by the sender, the proxy server assesses the data to decide whether it should go ahead and form a connection.
- Public proxy. Public proxies are available to anyone, and they work by providing users with their IP address to hide their identity.
- Shared proxy. This proxy enables multiple users to engage with this proxy in a given time by providing the users with a shared IP address.
- Residential proxy. This proxy gives the user an IP address that can be traced to a specific physical device where all requests are assessed and redirected.
- DNS proxy. DNS proxy takes requests in the form of DNS queries and forwards them to the domain server, where they can be cached, and the flow of requests can also be redirected.
- Anonymous proxy. Anonymous proxy servers aim to conceal internet activity by assessing the user’s request while hiding their identity.
- High anonymity proxy. The high anonymity proxy is basically an anonymous proxy that takes an additional step to concealing the user’s identity by deleting the user’s information before the proxy attempts to connect to the target site.
- Transparent proxy. Transparent proxies can be used to remain hidden from those that it is enforced upon. This type of proxy is useful for organizations which wish to implement a proxy without raising the employee’s awareness that they are using one2.
- Suffix proxy. The suffix proxy adds the proxy’s name to the URL of the requested content and is used to bypass web filters.
- Distorting proxy. Distorting proxies change their IP address to hide their identity from the target website. This is a good option for users who wish to keep their location hidden while using the internet.
- TOR Onion proxy. The TOR proxy directs data across various networks, globally, to obscure the user’s address. Data is encrypted in multiple layers for further privacy protection and when the data reaches the target destination, each layer is decrypted to reveal the original data.
- 12P anonymous proxy. 12P anonymous proxy is an enhanced version of the TOR Onion proxy.
1 IBM, 2021, “Proxy server types and uses for HTTP Server”
2 Alam, 2021, “Different Types of Proxy Servers and Their Uses”