Proxy servers have come a long way since their invention. Today, we know them as privacy-conferring tools. However, they started as a security and bandwidth conservation method.
There are also many different types of proxies nowadays. There are many ways of classifying proxies. Depending on perspective, we can have free or paid proxy servers, private or public proxies, forward or reverse proxies, etc.
This article attempts to cut to the heart of things and delve into the origin and evolution of proxies.
Read on to learn how proxies became what they are today and why different paid proxy servers are the rave.
Features of a Proxy
Web proxies are now a feature in the daily internet life of casual web surfers. That’s partly thanks to the proliferation of free and paid proxy servers and partly due to the increasing need for privacy.
Regardless of the reason, they are a part of the modern digital landscape. Here are some of the features that have helped proxies become so popular:
- Caching and bandwidth control. A web proxy can cache web pages that a user loads regularly. As such, the web pages load faster on subsequent visits. From a user’s perspective, the consequence of this is faster connectivity. However, the web server also benefits from a lesser load on its server. It is a win-win situation for both sides.
- Access control. A proxy firewall is a proxy server that doubles as a security system. This is because it filters the executable requests at the application layer rather than simply altering IP addresses or caching pages. Consequently, it helps control access to resources. Companies can use paid proxy servers of this mound to prevent external networks from accessing their remote resources.
- Anonymity. There are different types of proxies based on the level of anonymity provided. They are transparent proxies, anonymous proxies, and elite proxies. The latter is the most effective proxy as regards privacy. As such, the most expensive paid proxy servers are usually elite proxies. On the other hand, free proxies are more likely to be transparent or anonymous.
Origins of Proxies
With the advent of the internet, most internet-based communication happened over email. However, as with most technology, some saw the benefits, while others saw an opportunity to exploit for bad. As such, the rise of spam, phishing attacks, and data interception soon followed.
The consequence of the abuse of the internet was further technological advancements in the form of proxies. However, there are two different schools of thought regarding the origins of proxies.
One school traces the beginnings of proxy servers to a need for bandwidth conservation. According to this school of thought, the need for efficient communication between devices and websites drove proxy invention. The result was a mechanism that helps load frequently accessed pages faster.
The other school of thought linked proxy developments to a need for security. In other words, the need to protect data transfer and sensitive identifying information led to altering IP addresses. Both ideologies combine to see proxies as originating from a need for efficiency and security.
Evolution of Proxies
Like most digital tools, proxies have relatively humble origins but have come a long way since their invention. Here is a quick rundown of the evolution of proxies from their simplest forms to the common proxy types of today:
- Traditional proxies. The earliest proxies had the conservation of bandwidth as their core function. In some ways, the goal of these early proxies led to the caching functionality in modern proxies. Then, they used individual configurations for every device to connect them to client programs. As such, despite their effects on network efficiency, the setup hindered their popularity. Other than improving efficiency, they offered a measure of protection as well. For starters, they could also control access to the client programs from external networks. This is an echo of the activity of modern proxy firewall servers.
- Paid proxy servers. The next step for proxies was a move from free programs with security functions to commercialized products. Commercialization drives many innovations, including the development of sophisticated firewalls. There was also the development of caching and the improvement of reliability. However, such evolutions saw proxies go in many directions, spawning many types. Some of these types are:
- Datacenter proxies are provided by dedicated data centers housing servers. These types of proxies emphasized reliability in their design. However, their anonymity could be better, as web servers can recognize their lack of authenticity.
- Residential proxies. Such proxies are authentic as their IPs come from actual residential locations (from ISPs). However, without the efficiency of a dedicated datacenter, such proxies are susceptible to variations in speed. The same goes for the reliability of their connections. With that in mind, they provide elite anonymity.
- Mobile proxies. Since IP addresses are unique to every device, mobile devices stand out as very original. As such, these proxies are unlikely to be victims of IP bans.
Other than these, the evolution of proxies has also seen the development of dedicated proxies, rotating proxies, etc. Dedicated proxies offer unshared, exclusive access and may be residential or datacenter based on the source of their IP addresses. Rotating proxies, however, are a proxy type that changes at intervals to prevent bans during request-intensive activity.
History is a fickle thing, and the origin of proxy servers is no different. However, an inability to identify the specific thought that birthed proxies shouldn’t detract from their modern-day functionality.
Today, paid proxy servers are a popular tool for online privacy, and that’s all that matters. After reading up on the history of proxies, shore up your cyber security with a reliable proxy server.