A proxy is a an application program that acts as an intermediary for requests from browsers seeking resources from other servers. A browser connects to the proxy server requesting a file, connection, web page, or other resource, available from another server. The proxy server may filter traffic by IP address, port or protocol then it provides the resource by connecting to the destination server and requesting the service on behalf of the client browser. A proxy server may optionally alter the client's request or the server's response.
Most proxies are a web proxy, allowing access to content on the WEB.
A proxy server has a large variety of potential purposes, including:
- To keep machines behind it anonymous
- To bypass security/parental controls
- To circumvent geographical content restrictions.
- To circumvent limitations that online games or websites set on per IP basis.
A proxy server that passes requests and replies unmodified is usually called a gateway.
Bypassing filters and censorship
If the destination server filters content based on the origin of the request, the use of a proxy can remove this filter. For example, a server using IP-based geolocation to restrict its service to a certain country can be accessed using a proxy located in that country to access the service.
Accessing services anonymously
An anonymous proxy server (sometimes called a http proxy) attempts to anonymize web surfing. There are different varieties of anonymizers. The destination server receives requests from the anonymizing proxy server, and thus does not receive information about the end user's address.
Elite or high anonymity proxies
Some anonymizing proxy servers may forward data packets with header lines such as HTTP_VIA, HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR, or HTTP_FORWARDED, which may reveal the IP address of the client. Other anonymizing proxy servers, known as elite or high anonymity proxies, only include the REMOTE_ADDR header with the IP address of the proxy server, making it appear that the proxy server is the client. A website could still suspect a proxy is being used if the client sends packets which include a cookie from a previous visit that did not use the high anonymity proxy server. Clearing cookies, and possibly the cache, would solve this problem.
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