Do Proxy Servers Prevent the Spread of Malicious Code?by Kevin Lee
The Internet is a dangerous virtual world consisting of people who attempt to harm computers and other electronic devices. Cybercriminals and hackers also have the ability to steal private information from others by infecting computers with malware. Businesses and individuals have an arsenal of tools to protect them from these Internet threats. Proxy servers, for instance, can help keep malicious code from spreading from one computer to another.
Malicious software consists of computer instructions that attack computers in multiple ways. When you open an email, install a new application or visit a dangerous website, your computer may get a malware infection. If you unknowingly send other people an infected file, the malware may spread to their systems. Computers on a network are also at risk because malicious code may move from one computer to others via network servers. While some malevolent code may simply wipe out important files, other code might steal private information and transmit it to others.
When you surf the Web without using a proxy server, your browser communicates directly with the Web server that hosts the Web page you wish to view. If you use a proxy server to visit a website, the proxy server acts as a gateway between your browser and the website's server. The proxy server receives your requests and forwards them to the site's Web server. In turn, the proxy server also accepts data from a site's Web server and forwards that data to your Web browser.
Proxy Server Protection
Although you may secure your computer using a program such as Norton Antivirus or Avast, you also have the option to use additional security using a firewall. Firewalls protect you by monitoring ingoing and outgoing network traffic. The Missouri Office of Administration Information Technology Services Division notes that Dedicated Proxy Servers can assist firewalls by also monitoring incoming information, logging activity and filtering that information before allowing it to pass to computers. Because a proxy server handles outgoing information that comes from Web browsers, it can also scan that information for malware and prevent it from going out over a network where it might infect other computers.
Schools and businesses often add proxy servers to their networks. People who use those networks to surf the Web may often find that they cannot visit some websites. That happens when administrators configure proxy servers so that they filter certain sites. This type of configuration can help prevent malware from spreading by keeping people away from dangerous sites that may contain malicious software. Administrators have the ability to configure browsers so that a computer user cannot change proxy settings that might enable the user to disable a proxy and surf the Web unprotected.