What is an HTTP Proxy and How Does it Work for Your Goalsby@strateh76
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What is an HTTP Proxy and How Does it Work for Your Goals

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HTTP proxy is an intermediate server between the Internet user and the servers from which information is requested. HTTP proxy works for encryption or caching of information, or as a web filter. HTTPS proxy encrypts outgoing traffic so that third-party resources cannot know the personal information that the user transmits. Most modern proxies used by ordinary Internet users or companies are forward proxies. The forward proxy handles outgoing requests, transforms them, and then calls the network for information. The majority of websites use several proxy servers for storing information.

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Shariy Ivan | Content marketer & Copywriter HackerNoon profile picture

The role HTTP proxy plays in the life of many people is huge. Almost all Internet users encounter HTTP proxies, even if they do not know about them. Are you employed? Theoretically, your actions on the Internet can be monitored by management with proxies.

Shopping at online stores? Most website owners use proxies to protect themselves from scammers. Regularly visit major web portals? Their owners use proxies to distribute traffic. In this article, we will discuss what an HTTP proxy is and how it works.

What does HTTP proxy mean and how does it differ from HTTPS proxy?

So, what is an HTTP proxy? HTTP proxy is an intermediate server between the Internet user and the servers from which information is requested. In other words, an HTTP proxy is a filter or gateway that stands between a person and the vast (and not always secure) data on the web. HTTP proxies are the most common type of proxy. They surround users almost everywhere, from offices to data centers, being indispensable network assistants. The main functions of HTTP proxies are:

  • File size compression (caching)
  • Websites blocking
  • Ads filtering

The purpose of an HTTP proxy depends on its type and kind. HTTP proxy works for encryption or caching of information, or as a web filter. A modern and properly configured HTTP proxy can perform different tasks:

  • Track information. For example, large companies can keep track of employee requests.
  • Increase speed. By caching files, they load faster.
  • Ensure privacy. HTTP proxy changes IP address and location, making it difficult to track who's making the request.
  • Access blocked websites. The HTTP proxy can tell the Internet that a person is in another country, so he or she has access to websites that are blocked in the territory.
  • Block unwanted sites. The company can set up a proxy so that the user will not receive information from some websites. For example, you install such a proxy at school and prohibit visiting all non-educational websites.

How does HTTP proxy differ from HTTPS one? The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is evident from the definitions. HTTPS is not an independent data transfer protocol. It is an extension of HTTP with an encryption superstructure. This is the key and only difference. If the HTTP protocol transmits data unprotected, HTTPS will provide cryptographic protection. It is often used where authorization is needed: on payment system sites, email services, social networks.

So, the HTTPS proxy encrypts outgoing traffic so that third-party resources cannot know the personal information that the user transmits. It is used when it is necessary to save passwords, logins, plastic cards numbers.

What are the most common types of proxies?

Algorithms on the Internet save outgoing information and form a user's profile: for example, their query history and typical behavior. This knowledge can be used in many ways, the most innocuous being to set up targeted ads. How proxy works and what changes it makes to incoming or outgoing data depends on its type and settings. There are two main types of proxies.

Forward proxy

It is between the user and external websites. The forward proxy handles outgoing requests, transforms them, and then calls the network for information. You can visit blocked websites, hide your location, cache information with such an intermediary. Most modern proxies used by ordinary Internet users or companies are forward proxies.

Reverse proxy

The majority of websites use several servers for storing information. A reverse proxy accepts users' requests and decides what server to request the information from. Therefore such proxies are often used for load balancing. Many users are not even aware that a resource is using a reverse proxy.

HTTP proxy can also be categorized by the level of client anonymity:

Transparent proxy

These do not hide their presence, so websites see that the request does not come directly from the user but the proxy. In addition, the real IP address is also visible - so no anonymity.

Usually, educational institutions use this type of proxies to filter incoming and outgoing content, as well as to cache information. So, the management of the school or university may forbid students to visit YouTube or social networks within the educational institution.

Anonymous proxy

Such proxies do not transmit your real IP address but replace it. That is, it is impossible to determine where you are. This helps prevent leakage of personal data and trace typical behavior, which will make life harder for marketers.

For example, a distorting proxy transmits that the user is in Lagos. Accordingly, he or she will be offered ads and news from that city. But in reality, he or she is chewing gingerbread in Berlin and is not particularly interested in African news.

You can use such an intermediary to bypass the blocking of unwanted websites. For example, many people in China use proxies to overcome the "Great Firewall of China" that blocks websites and even search engine queries.

But there is a disadvantage. Anonymous proxies do not hide the fact that the request is sent through an intermediary. This means that the network sees that the person is using an HTTP proxy.

Distorting proxy

A distorting proxy automatically changes the HTTP headers and the user's IP address. It helps to retain personal information, location, browsing history without informing the web that the request is coming through the proxy.

High anonymity proxy

These are the most advanced and secure proxies. They often change the user's IP address, so it is difficult to determine the real location and outgoing traffic. For example, Apple uses proxies to protect user data with a Private relay, hiding the IP address and encrypting the device's traffic. To do this, the company redirects information through two independent proxies.

How to use HTTP proxy?

The way an HTTP proxy is used depends on the organization`s or person`s activity. There are three main reasons why people buy HTTP proxies. So, let's take a closer look at what HTTP proxies are used for.

HTTP proxy is used for bypassing geo-blocking

This is the most important reason for use of HTTP proxy. In some regions, certain services or sites are blocked, but users are still looking for ways to visit them.

For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are blocked in China. If the Chinese want to read the feeds on these social networks and communicate with friends, they have to change their IP address. This is done with the help of an HTTP proxy. Then they can easily access those social networks.

HTTP proxy is used for protection from being banned for multi-accounting

Social networks and websites like Etsy prohibit multi-accounting, i.e. to have several accounts. But multi-accounting is a good way to promote a product and is the fastest way to keep your product on top. The same tactic is used by coupon aggregators that gather information with the help of bots.

Social networks and websites have an algorithm that registers violations. It's called anti-fraud. When the anti-fraud system sees multiple accounts with the same IP address, it starts suspecting these are bots. This could end up in one of two ways:

  • Anti-fraud will automatically ban all profiles.
  • The suspicious accounts will be manually checked by the site/service moderation.

HTTP proxies are used against account blocking. The result is that all the accounts have different IPs, which makes it harder for the systems to identify them as a network of profiles.

HTTP proxy is used for anonymity

Anonymity is the third reason users connect HTTP proxies to their devices. They hide the real IP address and change the location of the user. For example, if a Poland resident connects through data center proxies for India, the website will identify him or her as an Indian.

But remember: HTTP proxies will not make you completely anonymous and will not hide all your data - only your location. To hide all information about yourself, you need to use an anti-detect browser. It will hide your browser fingerprints. HTTP proxies only help you become anonymous on the web, but you need to use other tools in conjunction with them.

What are HTTP proxy benefits?

HTTP proxies are very useful tools in the life of many people. HTTP proxy benefits are often considered when choosing between different types of proxies.


Proxies will hide your real IP address, so nobody will know your whereabouts. This will allow you to visit the resources blocked in your region without restrictions.

Anonymity will also allow you to bypass the bans set in the corporate network. For example, employers often restrict access to social networks and some entertainment sites. HTTP proxy allows you to access any website without any problems.

Security and protection

A proxy plays the role of an intermediary that increases the security of your computer or mobile device. The benefits of using a proxy are information protection from hacker attacks, organization of access control, increased level of security, and ability to encrypt traffic.

Efficiency and performance

Caching your data allows you to increase the page load speed and save bandwidth. How this works in practice: suppose you want to open a page that you have already visited before. In this case, the proxy does not have to re-open it - the server intermediary retrieves the data from the cache it has already received.

Bypassing limits

This is an important point for Social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization(SEO) specialists, as well as entrepreneurs who promote their business in social networks and search engines. Proxies can help avoid blocking when registering accounts in bulk and performing other actions outside of the established limits on Instagram and other social networks.

Proxies are also useful for SEO monitoring. By renting a proxy, you can make a high-quality text audit, analyze external links and site traffic, perform technical and semantic monitoring, and also perform SEO analysis of your competitors.

Query filters

Proxies can be implemented not only to gain access to blocked sites but also to impose restrictions on network users. Company bosses can deny access to sites that may degrade performance or harm the firm. In addition, it is an effective tool for load balancing on the corporate network.

Final Thoughts

  • An HTTP proxy is an intermediary computer that anonymizes traffic and secures the connection. A proxy spoofs the user's IP, encrypting the location and attributes - the website being visited thinks it is another person.
  • HTTP proxies are used to filter network access, provide online privacy, security, and access prohibited or restricted content.
  • Depending on the level of anonymity, there are different types of proxies. The most unreliable are transparent public proxies. The most common are anonymous proxies. The most reliable are the distorting and private ones. They provide not only IP spoofing but also rotation of addresses and proxy attributes themselves.
  • Setting up an HTTP proxy on your device isn't difficult. You just need to get the IP address and port of the proxy, find the necessary settings section on your device, and enter them into the appropriate fields.