The Functions of a Proxy Server
A server is a combination of one or several hardware and software designed to provide networking service to clients. Individually, it could also refer to any software or dedicated hardware used to provide such service or any system that is running a server operating system.
A proxy server could therefore be described as a firewall mechanism that substitutes the IP address of a protected host network with a temporary address for all data traffic passing through it. It makes decisions to authenticate the user or client IP address’ permission to access the network and establishes connection to any remote computer on behalf of the user.
In essence, it is a computer that acts as an interface or intermediary to connect two or more computers that have different protocols and are placed at various remote locations over the internet.
When a user (computer) attempts to connect to another user to look for any resources such as files, web pages, connections, etc available on their database, it is the proxy server that evaluates if such connection is permitted according to the existing settings on the remote computer. When the proxy server authenticates that these conditions are met, it then makes the request on behalf of the user and establishes the connection.
The proxy server can either modify either the request or response of the user or client or, respond to a request without contacting the server. It does this by using cached similar responses stored on the remote server that the resources are being requested from.
The other functions include:
1. It reduces the time needed to access resources from servers by serving cached responses for similar request to clients.
2. It serves a log to provide information on internet usage for auditing or evaluation purposes.
3. It could be used to over-ride security or parental control
4. It enables access to regionally restricted resources
5. It hides its clients for anonymous browsing and security
6. It could be used to block access to unwanted or unauthorised sites
7. It serves as a scan to filter malware before delivering requested resources
8. It serves as a scan to block certain outgoing data. This is for protected files
Since it is an intermediary that acts on behalf of two or more users or clients, a proxy server can be placed anywhere in-between the users or at destination servers on the internet for it to serve its functions.