Understanding the function of a proxy URL requires a working knowledge of the proxy server. The URL is a very simple means of accessing the server but the server acts as a critical point of contact between a network and all of the servers connected to that network. The network uses a proxy for security, access and a number of other reasons designed to protect and manage a small or large group of computers.
Proxy Servers Explained
The proxy server is essentially a middle man that bridges two networks. In many cases, the server works as a bridge or gateway between a local network like a group of computers used by a school group or business and a mainstream large network like the global internet.
The proxy serves as a security gateway where it tracks everything incoming and outgoing. This means that every bit of data sent to the local network must route through the proxy server. In the case of a hack, it is more easily traced to the source because everything is run through the proxy server. This adds a much better layer of security and helps to block hackers from accessing the local network emails and private information.
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The server is also useful for outgoing information, because everything that leaves the network is tracked and employees are accountable for their digital transactions on the outgoing end. Acting as a control on incoming and outgoing data also makes the server capable of working as a restriction tool. The person or entity that sets up the server will create a security layer to only allow access to the owner. The owner can restrict access to specific websites by blocking that data each time it attempts to leave through the proxy server.
How the Proxy URL Works
The proxy URL is simply a means of entering the proxy server to read data or make changes to the settings. Essentially, the URL allows access through a web browser. The user will still require the password to enter the proxy server settings.
The primary use for the proxy URL is typically to adjust network access settings. This means restricting or removing restrictions for certain websites. A school for example, may add websites to the blacklist if students are attempting to access adult rated content. A business can restrict access to specific social network websites as well.
Types of Proxy Server
Multiple types of proxy servers exist and the configuration is based on identity. A transparent proxy simply identifies as a proxy server. This means the server makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is actually a proxy server. You can still cache websites on a transparent server but the IP address settings are accessible and they do not hide individual computers on the network.
An anonymous proxy server will mask the the IP, adding a layer of anonymity but some digging can still reveal the original IP. The mask is effective for a basic cover but an advanced IT person can pull the mask back and dig through HTTP headers to locate the original IP address. Adding a full layer of privacy is done through a high-anonymity proxy that does not reveal the IP address or identify that a proxy server is in use. This is as advanced proxy server used when a high security system is necessary to protect sensitive data.
Regardless of the type of proxy server used, a proxy URL provides access to the settings through a web browser. The URL is unique and the access requires entering a pass-code alongside the very specific URL protocol to actually access and change the settings.