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.
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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 to change your IP and location with a VPN – NordVPN
ContentsHow does a VPN change your IP address and location? Why would I want to change my location? Can only a VPN change my location? How to change your IP address with a VPN How does a VPN change your IP address and location? A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, changes your apparent location by sending your traffic through a server in another location. Here’s how that works:Your VPN app lets you select a server anywhere in the world where your VPN service has servers. NordVPN, for example, has servers in 59 different countries (in some, you can also select the city) you connect to the server you’ve selected, your app will form an encrypted tunnel around all of the traffic coming from your device. That VPN tunnel will lead straight to your selected server, which will decrypt your traffic and send it to its final destination. However, your IP address – which helps determine your location and identity – will now be that of the server. Yours will be hidden from the ’s it – anyone using your IP address to discover your location will now see your location as the location of the server. You can still use the app and change your VPN server to new locations whenever you want. To check if your VPN location changer is working, you can see your online location would I want to change my location? Anyone who knows your public IP can find out a lot about you with just a simple IP lookup. So, there are many ways to take advantage of an IP location mparing prices while shopping: Some sites offer different prices to visitors from different countries. Once you learn how to change VPN location, you can hop around the globe and look for the best your identity from trackers: If you’re connecting from home, your location is an important part of tracking your identity online. By hiding your location, you can throw off annoying online services that keep trying to track your acticing freedom of speech: Hiding your IP address is a necessary step for any privacy-conscious internet user. It’s especially important for journalists working on sensitive topics or anyone else who’s concerned about their location being discoverable are just the benefits when it comes to changing your location. Using a VPN is one of the most important ways to stay secure and private online. Click here to find out more about how VPNs work and why they’re you decide to look for a free IP changer online, keep in mind that most of them will record and sell your data. Maintaining a VPN service is not cheap. So, if a provider is offering you to alter your IP online for free, don’t trust it. They will either scam you or collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder. If you want to stay safe, stay away from free VPNs. Our app makes it easy to change VPN servers quickly – we have servers in 60 countries to change your IP only a VPN change my location? There are a couple of other ways to change your IP address and thus hide your location. Using a proxy service: In general, it works much like a VPN. A proxy acts as a middleman that connects to the website for you and sends it the proxy’s address instead of yours. The most significant difference is that, unlike a VPN, a proxy doesn’t encrypt your connection. By definition, a proxy has to change and modify your IP address, and that’s it. VPN services generally offer more features as Tor (The Onion Router): It works by sending your communications through a number of nodes around the world. Each node only knows the node that came before it and the one after it, so it’s difficult to trace the original connection back to you. It also usually has a strong negative effect on your internet speed, as the Tor network usually sends you through at least three proxy and Tor are alternatives to a VPN IP changer, they also come in the form of VPN features. For example, NordVPN has proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Unlike most proxy services, they also encrypt your browsing data. And you can always use NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN feature to connect to the Tor network. So you can have the best of all worlds just by using a is the best IP changer? A VPN service like NordVPN is the best out there. Not only will your IP address be hidden, but you’ll also get the benefit of placing that protection across 6 devices. It also comes compounded with a lot of other features, meaning you won’t just get an IP blocker, you’ll get a selection of other security benefits, to change your IP address with a VPNWhen you use a virtual private network to hide your physical location, you also change your IP in the process. Here are the steps you need to take to change your IP:Get a VPN subscription. You can find NordVPN subscription plans here. Download the VPN app to your device. Launch the application and enter your credentials to log the “Quick connect” button to connect to the best remote server in seconds. That’s it, you have changed your IP address and location! If you want to change your VPN server to, say, USA, just tap the country pin, and NordVPN’s smart algorithm will find the fastest server available. There are other ways to use NordVPN as a location changer as well. You can install it onto your router or download our proxy extension for Chrome or Firefox. In fact, it supports almost any device, and you can even install NordVPN on your router. Also, check out NordVPN reviews where people share their experiences about our VPN as an IP changer changing your location – it’s easy with NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee.
Daniel is a digital privacy enthusiast and an internet security expert. As the blog editor at NordVPN, Daniel is generous with spreading news, stories, and tips through the power of a well-written word.
How to change your IP address: 4 easy ways – CNET
Changing your IP address is easy, safe and legal.
Don’t worry. Changing your IP address is easy, even if you’ve never done it before. It’s also perfectly safe and — as long as you’re not using it to break other laws — it’s legal. Your computer and phone have several types of IP addresses (short for internet protocol, a unique series of numbers that identify your specific device with your online browsing), but we’ll focus on the type normally changed to protect your privacy as you browse, and those which make you appear like you’re in a different country. There are four simple ways to change your IP address in under 5 minutes. Jumping behind a proxy server or a VPN is the best way to not only temporarily change your IP address, but also protect your privacy. If you just want to change your IP address without the additional privacy boost, you can either enter your preferred IP manually, or you can just force your device to retrieve a new one automatically. Read more: Best VPN service of 2021 Keep in mind, changing your IP address will temporarily disrupt whatever internet-connected services or programs you’re using on your device. There’s no harm done, but it’s going to have the same effect as if you’d momentarily lost your Wi-Fi. Your Spotify might hiccup. Media streaming services will have a momentary brain freeze. If you’re sending or receiving files, you may need to start over. And you might have to log back in to whatever secure site you’re currently using. If you’re tooling around with IP address changes, you might have some other questions. Here are two of the most common questions I’ve been asked.
Which VPN should you pick?
Why should I consider changing my IP address?
Routinely changing your external, or public IP address, can help you improve your overall security and browsing privacy. There are other reasons, too. If you’ve just installed a new home router, you may need to reconfigure your network with a quick IP change. One common problem among home routers is that they sometimes give devices the wrong IP address, so changing your IP manually can solve those glitches. If you want to access a country’s catalog of streaming media services when you’re outside of that country for whatever reason, changing your IP to one based in the right country can get you the catalog you’re looking for. Likewise, if you’re a gamer looking to lower your lag, changing your IP via a gaming proxy server can help improve performance. One neat tech trick for second-language learners is to use an IP address based in another country to generate search results and local publications written in the local language.
Is it even legal to change your IP address?
Yes, it’s legal to change your IP address in the US. People change their IP addresses routinely when facing direct attacks on their online security, when testing a website before it goes live, or when they simply prefer to protect their privacy. Obviously, this FAQ is in no way offering legal advice and you should consult a licensed attorney for specific questions, but the legal boundaries on IP address changes usually start with what you change your IP to, and what you do with that new IP address. If you’ve changed your IP to impersonate an individual or a business — often called IP spoofing — you could be running afoul of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. You might also run into trouble if you’re changing your IP address to access a website you’ve been banned from. IP spoofing is also a tool used by some cybercriminals to perform a handful of well-known attacks, most commonly those related to identity theft and those aimed at crippling websites with organized distributed denial of service bombardment.
Option 1: Change your IP address with a VPN or proxy server You can use a VPN to change your IP address.
When you use any of the virtual private networks we’ve reviewed in our directory, the service will automatically make you appear as though you have a different IP address originating from whatever country you select. Literally just open your VPN app and connect to any city other than your current one — in less than 30 seconds, you’ve changed your IP so it appears to be from wherever you chose. Browser-based VPNs and proxies are much more lightweight than standalone VPN apps. There are some key privacy differences that I’ve detailed elsewhere, but when you use a proxy, it also changes your visible IP address. Chrome, Firefox and Brave Browser all have their own versions of proxies and browser-based VPNs that you can try for yourself. Setting up a VPN on your iPhone or Android device is as easy as installing any other app on your phone, and I’ve got a step-by-step guide in case you’d like to see how to do it. If you’re gaming from a console, I’ve also got a quick walkthrough for you on setting up a VPN on an Xbox along with a list of the ones that performed best in my tests. If you’ve never toyed with VPNs but are considering one, I’ve got the Cliff’s Notes version of how to pick the right one, which you might find helpful. Whatever you do, just avoid free VPNs. Seriously not worth the malware risk. Instead, pivot to the cheapest ones that I’ve test-driven for you. Option 2: Change your IP address by unplugging the router Changing your IP address is as easy as unplugging your router.
The easiest and quickest way to get a new IP address is to see what your IP address is via an IP-checking site, then walk over to your router and unplug it for at least five minutes. It may take several minutes longer, depending on how long your ISP normally takes to renew IP addresses in general. Once you plug it back in, refresh the website to make sure your IP address has changed. Essentially, what you’re trying to do is make the IP-assigning part of your router “forget” your device so that it treats your device like a newcomer and gives it a new address. This isn’t foolproof, however. Sometimes it takes multiple tries, and in some cases you may have to leave the router off overnight. If you have a router that’s separate from your modem (most are a combination device these days) you may need to unplug the modem and router, leave them off for 5 minutes or so, then first power the modem on, followed by the router. But getting off the couch is overrated. Option 3: Automatically update your IP address on Mac, iOS, Windows and Android Changing your IP address will better protect your browsing.
Here’s how to do this on Mac, iOS, Windows and Android: MacOS: Click your Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen, and click System Preferences then Network then Advanced. At the top of the next screen, click TCP/IP, then click the Renew DHCP Lease button on the right side of the window. iOS: Go to Settings, tap Network and choose the wireless network you’re currently on. Under the IPv4 address section, tap Configure IP then Automatic. Windows 10: Press the Win+R keys at the same time. This opens the Run box dialog. Type cmd, then hit Enter on your keyboard. This opens the command prompt. For those who’ve never seen a Windows command prompt before: This is the part where you will either be immediately terrified something is about to get broken, or you will suddenly feel like you’re about to do something extremely cool. Do not panic; neither of those things is going to happen. The magic black box has that effect on everyone their first time. Type ipconfig /release (including the space) into the command prompt and hit Enter. Some text will zoom by. When it stops, type ipconfig /renew and hit Enter again. Then close your command prompt. You’re done. Android: Go to Settings, tap Connections then tap Wi-Fi. From here, tap on the network you’re currently connected to. Tap the gear-shaped icon to the right of the network. Your IP address will be displayed here, but go to the bottom of the screen and — after making sure you’ve got your Wi-Fi password handy — tap Forget (it’s the trash icon in the bottom-right corner). Your phone will forget the Wi-Fi network and be disconnected. Just reconnect to your network, and you should be issued a new IP address.
Top 5 reasons to use a VPN
Option 4: Manually change your IP address Here’s what to do if you’ve already got a new IP address that you know you want to use. MacOS: Go to System Preferences and click Network. Click Network Connection, then click Configure IPv4. Select Manually and type in whatever IP you’ve chosen. iOS: Go to Settings, tap Wi-Fi, then Network. Under the IPv4 address section, tap Configure IP. Manually type in whatever IP address you’re trying to use. Windows: Make sure you’re working from your Administrator account and click Start, then go to Control Panel. From here, click Network Connection, and then click on your local area connection. Next, click Properties, then click TCP/IP. From here, you can type your new IP address in manually. Your IP address will be displayed here, but go to the bottom of the screen and tap Advanced, then tap IP Settings. Select Static. The next screen will let you manually type in whatever IP address you’ve chosen. For more, check out everything to know about the Tor browser, three browser-based VPNs to try, and the browser privacy settings you should change right away.
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Frequently Asked Questions about use proxy to change ip address
Does a proxy server change your IP address?
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.May 7, 2021
Can you change location with proxy?
There are a couple of other ways to change your IP address and thus hide your location. Using a proxy service: In general, it works much like a VPN. A proxy acts as a middleman that connects to the website for you and sends it the proxy’s address instead of yours.Sep 12, 2021
How do I force an IP address to change?
Option 2: Change your IP address by unplugging the router Changing your IP address is as easy as unplugging your router. The easiest and quickest way to get a new IP address is to see what your IP address is via an IP-checking site, then walk over to your router and unplug it for at least five minutes.Jul 18, 2021