A proxy server can help protect your network from external threats. Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s talk about the least attractive but most important part of your workplace: network security. Every company or large office usually has a complex system of security measures to ensure the safety of personal data.
Unlike a firewall, which is used solely to block threats, a web proxy acts more like an intermediary between the device and the Internet.
In this article, we’ll dig a little deeper to understand what a web proxy can do for your network.
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What is a proxy server?
As the demand for Internet access in the workplace grows, web proxies are needed to protect an organization’s internal network from external threats. Simply put, web proxies or proxies are a way to filter the connection between your computer and the Internet.
Let’s figure it out.
Let’s say you want to check your Facebook profile to see how many likes your dog’s photo got. You open your web browser and type “facebook.com”.
Without a web proxy, your computer would simply connect directly to the Internet to access the website and display it for you.
Using a proxy server, your computer will connect to a separate proxy server that sits between your computer and the Internet. The Web Proxy acts as a port security service and is responsible for checking which websites are allowed to access and which are not.
Do’s and don’ts are determined by your organization’s IT policy. If social media sites are limited, then unfortunately this means that you have to wait until you get home to check your Facebook.
Why do you need a proxy server?
There are two general reasons why larger organizations use web proxies when configuring network security: to protect their personal data and to improve the performance of their internal network.
Insure your assets against threatsThe main reason a web proxy is needed on a network is because the proxy protects the company’s information assets by restricting websites that potentially contain malicious code.
And not just data, but physical assets as well, considering the potential cost of replacing an organization’s equipment when a virus makes it unusable.
Companies may have confidential business information, personal data of their employees, as well as personal information of their customers on their local network. With all this valuable data that needs to be protected, monitoring the security of Internet use doesn’t seem all that overwhelming.
Improving network performance
Depending on the type of proxy you are using and how it is configured, it is possible that using a proxy can improve performance by caching web pages.
A proxy server can store a temporary copy of a web page that it stores locally so that when your colleague visits the same site later, the proxy server can serve that copy instead of retrieving the original from the Internet.
This is most useful for frequently visited websites, for example if you visit your company’s website frequently. This saves page load time on every visit.
Proxy server in action
Most web proxy users are corporate-grade companies or institutions that need a controlled way to monitor the large number of internet users on their network.
Corporate companies and educational institutions use proxy servers to secure their network, but they do it in a slightly different way.
For larger corporations, corporate espionage isn’t just about James Bond films. This is a real threat that forces companies to monitor the inbound and outbound traffic on their network. These companies use proxy servers to filter everything – websites, email, and any application that has access to the Internet.
Of course, sometimes a web proxy also protects us from ourselves. Checking social media may sound harmless, but let’s face it, it’s a performance threat. In this case, companies use proxy servers to set time limits on social media use during business hours.
In schools and universities
It is important for schools and universities to use a web proxy that blocks access to adult content. In this case, the key is to buy a quality service that maintains an up-to-date database of well-known adult content sites.
In some cases, it is necessary to block access to radical political or hate speech websites, both to provide a safe environment for students and to ensure that students cite quality source material in their research.
Another reason why schools and universities invest in a good database – monitoring sites known to contain malicious code. Even if a malicious website tries to hide behind a regular website and redirect you to a website running malware, the web proxy marks this as abnormal behavior and blocks access.