With so many technical terms and their endless acronyms, things can sometimes get a little confusing. One such lesser known term that you might have come across before is “HTTP proxy” and it is exactly what we will take an in-depth look at in this article. So let’s get to the matter at hand, starting from some fundamentals.
What is HTTP?
Otherwise known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP is utilized heavily in the current day and age, and has been so for many years due to its significance in regards to the World Wide Web. Allowing files to be transferred over the internet, HTTP essentially instigates the communication between your browser and a server.
Without HTTP, we wouldn’t be able to send and display files such as sound, video, images, and more over the internet. So, it’s easy to see why it has been a crucial aspect of the World Wide Web ever since its inception.
Described as “stateless and connectionless”, HTTP is a widely adopted protocol that is currently available in two different versions – HTTP/1.0, followed by its newer sibling – HTTP/1.1. The benefit of the latter is that a connection can be reused over and over multiple times, while a separate connection is needed each time with the older version.
What is HTTP Proxy?
Proxies in general can be described as a server through which communications are processed. A common use for them is bypassing geo-restrictions or accessing blocked websites, which you’ll be able to do so quickly and easily thanks to a proxy’s ability to save resources. This often means that you’ll experience faster speeds when compared to VPN servers, which need to encrypt your traffic before it is processed.
With regard to the HTTP protocol, it can essentially be described as a high-performance content filter that traffic flows through in order to reach you. In other words, it acts as an intermediary between the client browser and destination web server. Then, any traffic which is processed through the server will appear as though it came from the proxy’s dedicated IP address, as opposed to the one that your device is associated with.
An additional benefit of an HTTP proxy is that it has the potential to save a lot of bandwidth through the compression of web traffic, caching of files and web pages from the internet, and a reduction in the number of ads that reach your computer. This makes it a particularly attractive option for companies which need to access ad-heavy websites such as the ones owned by news corporations.
Furthermore, the HTTP protocol also allows you to benefit from improved privacy and security, preventing privacy and security risks. At the same time, it allows for a large number of users to utilize the connection at any one time, which makes it useful for companies who have a large number of employees.
How does HTTP proxy work?
An unfortunate reality of the current day and age is that cyber-criminals constantly pose a threat to our online lives. This is where an HTTP proxy becomes particularly useful – all thanks to its ability to filter out any suspicious activity over your connection. Constantly examining web traffic to identify any malware, an HTTP proxy acts quickly to block any potential attacks from external networks.
The HTTP protocol also examines the source of the web traffic before it is sent to an internal web client. By doing so, this ensures that potentially harmful content is far less likely to enter your network and buffer overflow attacks can be avoided.
If you need to adjust the ruleset of your HTTP proxy to suit the requirements of your business, you’ll be happy to know that you can do so with ease by having the ability to customise it to your liking. But if you’d like to give your business the most comprehensive protection, you can simply utilise the ruleset template as outlined by your chosen HTTP proxy client.
How to configure HTTP proxy
If you’d like to set up and configure an HTTP proxy on your network, then you’ll find that the steps you need to follow depends on the operating system you are using. By default, Windows devices should automatically detect proxy settings. However, those who are connected to a business network will find that this isn’t always the case.
So, if you need to set up an HTTP proxy on your network automatically, you’ll need to head over to your Network & Internet settings, click on proxy, and then proceed to the automatic proxy setup section where you’ll be able to enter the relevant script address. You can also perform this process manually if you prefer, which you’ll be able to do by filling in the appropriate details in each section under the manual setup option.
If your business uses another operating system such as Mac OS, you also have the option to enter your proxy server settings by entering the network section under the system preferences option on the Apple menu. You can either set everything up automatically by using a proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file, or enter everything manually if that’s your preferred option.
So, that concludes our complete guide on what an HTTP proxy is and how it works. By this point, it should be clear to you that utilising one has the potential to benefit your business in more ways than one – whether it’s filtering out potentially harmful content before it reaches your internal network, allowing you to benefit from faster speeds than using a VPN, or otherwise.
So, if you’re looking to get an HTTP proxy up and running on your company’s network, you’ll now have the knowledge required to get started and make an informed decision as to whether an HTTP proxy is a good option for your business.